DURBAN – It was a magical day for Candice Bass-Robinson, who in her debut season as a fully fledged horse trainer, landed her first Vodacom Durban July Handicap win yesterday.
Long shot Marinaresco, ridden by jockey Bernard Fayd’Herbe, powered to victory in the closing stages of Africa’s premier horse racing event, which drew 55000 spectators to the Greyville Racecourse and a R2.5 million winner’s cheque.
She became the first woman trainer to win this event.
Bass-Robinson took over training duty, at her Cape-based stables, from her father Mike Bass, who is well respected in horse racing circles for his accomplishments over the years, including three previous July winners. He bowed out of racing, due to illness, at the end of last season.
The “colour of magic” was this year’s theme and Fayd’Herbe was wearing the right silks on-board Marinaresco, which carried the top weight of 60kg in the 18-horse field.
In the 2008 running, Fayd’Herbe wore the same colours when he rode Pocket Power which dead-heated with Dancer’s Daughter for a win.
On that occasion, Bass-Robinson was assistant to her father.
But she waved her own magic wand this time around. Interestingly, she is assisted by Fayd’Herbe’s brother Robert.
“I’m so ecstatic,” she said.
Bookmakers had the horse priced at 25-1, at the start of the race.
She said she had “big boots to fill” when she took over from her father, and was upbeat about holding her own.
“It was a daunting task, but I had the best person teaching me that anyone could ask for. I’ve grown up with horses and training them, so I was confident.”
Bass-Robinson said the race went according to plan and Marinaresco loved to come from off the pace in the closing stages. The four-year-old gelding “ran a cracking race to win from that position”.
“He was the smallest horse in the field but has the biggest heart.”
Mike Bass said:“I’m very proud of Candice, Robert and Bernard.”