THE chaotic land reform programme initiated by the Zanu PF-led government has been blamed for the dwindling number of local horses set to take part in the Castle Tankard at Borrowdale Race Course on May 16.
BY HENRY MHARA
Of the 15 horses unveiled yesterday to run in the 53rd edition of the $50 000 stakes race, only two local horses, Killa Man and Mighty Sha, trained by Bridget Stido and Kirk Swanson respectively, made the final field.
Two more horses, including a local thoroughbred Captain’s Tiger, had been nominated, but failed to meet the Grade One requirements needed for this prestigious race, resulting in foreign horses, especially from South Africa, dominating the field.
Captain’s Tiger and Forty One were the only two local horses that took to the field last year. They are both absent from this year’s race.
When asked by journalists why the number of local horses continues to decline at this annual event, hosts Mashonaland Turf Club chairman Brian Black said the drop in numbers was a consequent of the land reform programme of 2000 when predominantly white farm owners were forced off their lands.
“There are very few, if any, breeding farms left in Zimbabwe. The farms have been acquired and to breed, you need resources, you need a lot of ground, you need space and that is what we haven’t got up here. The breeding farms are gone and that is the position,” Black responded.
Black, however, said the stage was set for the country’s prestigious horse race with last year’s winner Equina, from Amy Bronkhors stable in South Africa, leading a field that also has various favourites including Super Trouper who came fourth last year.
Besides winning the Tankard, Equina also won the OK Grand Challenge race and finished second to Lucy Sam in the Republic Cup.
Warcraft has previously been impressive in local races and together with Glorious Jet, they should also be popular with punters.
“The stage is set for the 2015 Castle Tankard race and this is confirmation that we are not looking back. Rated the most prestigious and oldest sponsored horse race in Zimbabwe we draw very exciting parallels between the Castle Tankard and Borrowdale Park, and that is the heritage we ought to endure. I pay respect to Delta Beverages our valued sponsors for the association they afford us with the premier Castle brand.
“Fifty-two years on, the Castle Tankard race endures and through the years, we have witnessed this race become one of the most celebrated races in Zimbabwe and the region. It has gone through the metamorphosis process. In comparison, the inaugural 2 100 pounds in total stakes prizes with today’s $50 000 prize money makes an interesting parallel. That’s a reflection of a level of commitment that has gone into this race and we are enthused to be a part of this historic achievement, a super brand in its own right,” Black said.
Delta Beverages general manager Munyaradzi Nyandoro said Castle Lager consumers, traders and punters were also set to win great on the day, with various prizes including two Nissan NP200 vehicles, one double cab NP300 vehicle, $30 000 cash, $50 000 stake money for the punters and 1 500 cases of Castle Lager all for grabs.