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The quote is attributed to Forrest Gump: “My mama always said life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get!”
This is very much the situation top trainer Sean Tarry has found himself in during the past two weeks. Eleven days ago, it was exclusively revealed by Business Day that his chief patron, Chris van Niekerk, was quitting the sport.
In a successful partnership spanning 23 years, the well-known businessperson had supplied the first box of chocolates funding Tarry’s racing operation that has taken him to the pinnacle of the sport.
Tarry admits he was a worried man. “When Chris told me he was withdrawing from the sport, I certainly anticipated turbulent times ahead.”
Then, in the last few days, Tarry has received his second box of chocolates. In an interview with Sporting Post, Durban-based Hollywoodbets — the subject of a story in Business Day last week stating the company had successfully swum against the tide during the pandemic — revealed they had bought 33 horses previously raced by Van Niekerk and that they would remain with Tarry.
The horses include well-known big race performers Eden Roc, Chimichuri Run, Ikigai and Warrior’s Rest as well as promising three-year-olds Indelible, Mounia and Dockofthebay.
Devin Heffer, communications manager at Hollywoodbets, told Sporting Post that “we have always admired the Sean Tarry/Chris van Niekerk combination’s contribution to racing. The acquisition of 33 horses is extremely exciting as we are aware of the meticulous work that Sean and Chris expend in selecting their thoroughbreds.
“The Hollywood Syndicate has long dreamed of a grade 1 winner and we are hopeful that realising that dream will be enhanced with our acquisition,” said Heffer.
Former champion jockey Anthony Delpech, Hollywood’s ambassador, said: “I have ridden many winners for Sean and he is a gentleman to work with. This acquisition means we can begin to compete in feature races and it gives us a great leap forward in our plans.”
Discussing the tie-up, racing scribe Charl Pretorius felt Delpech’s role could be beneficial for punters if he can get Tarry to be more informative about the Hollywood runners.
“Right now, when Sean is asked about a newcomer or horse returning from a rest he may say ‘likely to be green’ or ‘will need the run’, which isn’t sufficient information for a punter to structure a bet.”
The Tarry-Hollywood combination had their first success when the three-year-old filly Wokonda won the fourth race at Turffontein last Saturday. The daughter of Captain Of All has plenty of scope for further improvement.
Nevertheless, the three-year-old that racing fans were talking about at the weekend was Desert Miracle after her nine lengths romp in the fifth race.
With stablemate Clafoutis taken out of the race as had seemed likely, the daughter of deceased champion sire Dynasty was sent off the 1-6 favourite. The forthcoming three-year-old feature races for fillies appear at her mercy.
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.