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Brought up in Benoni, Princess Charlene of Monaco has never forgotten her homeland. Encouraged by her father, she is a generous sponsor in the sport of horse racing.
Charlene, now 44, was born in Bulawayo in Zimbabwe but the family moved to SA in 1989. She is a former Olympic swimmer.
Her father, Mike Wittstock, is a keen racing man, and persuaded Charlene to get involved in horse ownership. She has a few in training with Randjesfontein conditioner Stuart Pettigrew.
One of those horses is the filly Follow Me, which cost the princess R180,000 as a yearling from Varsfontein Stud.
It proved a good buy as the daughter of Gimmethegreenlight is fancied to win the fourth race of her career when she takes on five rivals in the third race at Turffontein on Thursday.
Pettigrew seems to have found an ideal race for Follow Me as the filly is best weighted in the 1,600m contest with only Opera Glass having a higher merit-rating.
Opera Glass is one of two runners from the stable of Steve Moffatt, who also runs his gallant mare Rouge Allure. It was an emotional moment for the Vaal trainer when, making the 100th appearance of her career, the mare notched up her 14th win at Turffontein at the beginning of July.
Gavin Lerena rode the eight-year-old that day, and will be in the saddle again in Thursday’s race. She may find the much younger Follow Me too smart this time, but could fill the runner-up berth.
Roy Magner has his team in good form and his runner, Hollywoodbound, will have her supporters. She overraced in the early stages of her most recent outing when finishing second to Fromheretoeternity.
Pettigrew also trains another daughter of Gimmethegreenlight, Green Bubbles, for Mike Wittstock’s Monte Carlo Syndicate. The two-year-old runs in the second race and needs to step up on two moderate performances.
The finish of this 1,160m sprint is likely to be fought out by Outlaw, Tsitsikamma Pearl, Rose Velvet and Chopsticks. Preference is for the first-named, who has shown good speed in her two races to date.
It is possible the Hollywood Syndicate brought up their 100th winner at HollywoodbetsScottsville on Wednesday, but if not Vengeance Forever could bring up that milestone by winning the fourth race.
Trained by Sean Tarry, the R500,000 son of Futura doesn’t have many miles on the clock and should run well from a favourable draw. Keagan De Melo rides the gelding for the second time.
De Melo will be expecting challenges from Full House (Craig Zackey) and Bey Suyah (JP van der Merwe), who were both placed on their most recent outings.
• Following his gallant second in the Goodwood Cup, Stradivarius may be headed for next month’s Lonsdale Cup at York, a race he has won three times.
Owner Bjorn Nielsen told reporters: “We’re not going to say goodbye after that. It was a great performance. I’m happy to go for at least one more run.”
1st Race: (6) Boisterous (9) Lovers Lane (11) Mr Bodacious (14) Promontory
2nd Race: (11) Outlaw (3) Tsitsikamma Pearl (12) Rose Velvet (1) Chopsticks
3rd Race: (2) Follow Me (4) Hollywoodbound (3) Rouge Allure (1) Opera Glass
4th Race: (12) Vengeance Forever (3) Full House (5) Bey Suyay (9) Mcebisi
5th Race: (3) Spice Market (6) Dancing Arabian (2) Princess Kesh (4) Kiawah
6th Race: (2) Leopold (1) Whafeef (4) Barneys Pride (5) Tyrus Express
7th Race: (3) Lucy English (7) Bequest (2) Lucy In The Sky (5) Benguela Cove
8th Race: (10) Blue Waters (6) Insatiable (5) Samoa (9) Risky Business
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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.