Picture: GETTY IMAGES/HORSEPHOTOS
Picture: GETTY IMAGES/HORSEPHOTOS

In the past 15 months — due to the Covid pandemic — many companies have found themselves up the proverbial creek without a paddle. The exception is Durban-based sports operator Hollywoodbets with their business riding the crest of a wave.

While many companies have tightened their belts and dropped sponsorships — Investec, previous backers of the Epsom Derby, is one example — Hollywoodbets have expanded their brand to include a Premier League club (Brentford), an Irish racecourse (Dundalk) and this week the news they had appointed jockey Daniel Muscutt as their UK ambassador.

Hollywood was established in 2000 but it’s only in the past five years that they've become as recognised as Ladbrokes and William Hill in the UK. Both racecourses in KwaZulu-Natal — at Greyville and Scottsville — have Hollywoodbets in front of their name.

The appointment of 26-year-old Muscutt as Hollywood’s first UK jockey sponsorship may have something to do with the fact that his father Peter is a leading trainer in KwaZulu-Natal with his stable backed by the sports operator.

Devin Heffer, brand and communications manager for Hollywoodbets, told the Sporting Post that Muscutt’s appointment was “an exciting step forward for the Hollywoodbets brand as we look to further extend our footprint in the UK and Ireland”.

“Daniel is a talented and unassuming young man who fits the mould of our culture and we are extremely proud to be associated with both him and his father Peter. We are certain he will assist us in getting a good footing in the UK, and showcasing our brand to the wider racing community,” added Heffer.

Zimbabwe-born Daniel does ride his fair share of winners, but if Mr Heffer entered a UK betting shop he wouldn’t find too many punters asking what Muscutt was riding. Their focus would be on Frankie Dettori, Oisin Murphy and William Buick.

In the last couple of years, Hollywood-owned horses have enjoyed success in the lower divisions of racing, but what would really boost their brand is a grade 1 winner.

Platinum Sky, purchased by Hollywood for R575,000 as a yearling, looks an exciting prospect and the son of Silvano will show whether he’s headed for better things when he contests the sixth race at the Vaal on Thursday.

The three-year-old’s trainer Sean Tarry told Winning Form the colt “may just need” the run as he hasn’t raced since winning his maiden at Turffontein in June.

Hollywood have back-up in the 1,600m race in the form of four-year-old Purple Panther who has already more than recouped his R50,000 purchase price.

Iron Will, a son of Flower Alley trained by Candice Dawson, should go well with S’manga Khumalo in the saddle and the all-conquering partnership of Paul Peter and Warren Kennedy team up with one-time winner Flying Bull.

The most expensive thoroughbred in action at the Free State course on Thursday is four-year-old Track Commander who runs in the third race. The gelding cost R2.4m as a yearling and has earned R10,000.

A first success for the son of Gimmethegreenlight seems unlikely as Muzi Yeni’s mount, Another Level, will start a hot favourite and should exit the maiden ranks.

Opera Glass will be an absentee in the seventh race which makes life easier for Another Level’s stablemate Sultanah.

SELECTIONS

1st Race: No Selection

2nd Race: (2) Alabama Anna (1) Sheldon (6) Mounia (7) Who’s That Star

3rd Race: (7) Another Level (1) Track Commander (4) Arlington Action (8) Duke Of Rain

4th Race: (6) Code Zero (8) Monashada (1) Koopa Troopa (10) Kazanjian

5th Race: (3) Successful Ruler (4) Rosenwind (2) West Coast Lover (1) Letsdoit

6th Race: (5) Platinum Sky (2) Iron Will (4) Flying Bull (1) Purple Panther

7th Race: (2) Sultanah (6) Me Time (9) Lady Calavera (4) Aryaam

8th Race: (1) Sister Light (4) Dark Travel (12) Icy Night (7) Tinder Dry

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