1986 Gr1 Barclays National Hawaii Stakes web (2)Model Man was not the only winner in the R200 000 Barclays National over 1600m at Turffontein, after rain had forced a 72-hour postponement.

Other winners, besides Model Man's connections and followers, were Barclays National Bank, Operation Hunger, and Douglas Taft, who became an instant millionaire.

The Grade One race, inaugurated in 1970 to honour Hawaii, a giant of the South African turf who had been voted US Champion Grass Horse the previous year, marked Barclays National Bank's introduction to horse-racing sponsorship.

In view of the importance of its social image, Barclays would have been reluctant to simply sponsor a horse race, but entrepreneur David Lewis came up with another winner.

Lewis, of Mike's Kitchen fame and ever mindful of big business's responsibility to charity, hit on the idea of a sweepstake to raise money for Operation Hunger that could be linked to a horse race.

Months of planning let to Barclays sponsoring the Hawaii Stakes with an increased stake of R200 000. The sponsorship was linked to a R1.1 million sweepstake aimed at raising R2 million for Operation Hunger with November 29 set down as the big day, when the country's top runners would clash over 1600m and a lucky sweepstake ticketholder would scoop R1 million.

The build-up to the big day went like clockwork. The weight-for-age race attracted a high-class field headed by champions Jungle Rock, Model Man and Enchanted Garden, and sweepstake ticket sales exceeded R3,6 million, raising R2,5 million for Operation Hunger.

Then disaster struck the night before the meeting. Rain fell steadily and the track, already softened by mid-week rain, was unsafe for racing by the Saturday morning.Turffontein officials faced a major dilemma. There was no prospect of being able to race on Monday and there were meetings programmed for the Tuesday and Thursday.

With stewards of the Vereeniging Turf Club adamant that the Thursday meeting go ahead, it was decided to postpone the Turffontein meeting to Tuesday with Newmarket on Wednesday and Vaal on Thursday as planned.

The rain ruined what had promised to be racing's showcase of the year. The sponsors and Turffontein had aimed to create a mining town atmosphere on the big day with a tent town and people dressed in period costume. Sadly, that went down the drain with the rain, although about 4000 fans turned out under leaden skies at a wet Turffontein to watch the gold rush and bet on the race meeting at Greyville.

The gold rush comprised a race for well-known athletes from the 1600m mark, each representing one of 20 finalists in the R1,1 million sweepstake. The winner of the race was unimportant. Each runner simply had to stake a claim for a finalist after the race, one of the claims bearing the big prize and the others prizes of at least R5 000. Sweepstake winner after much excitement was Durbanite Douglas Taft (24), then a R1400-a-month civil servant.

The stars of the show, left standing in damp stables on the Saturday, got their chance three days later when an above-average mid-week attendance of some 12000 was less than half than would have been the case had the race meeting gone ahead as scheduled.

Jungle Rock, riding the crest of a wave after successive wins in the Computaform Champion Stakes, the Keith Hepburn Champion Stakes and the Germiston 100, started favourite at 16/10, with Model Man second favourite at 5/2 in spite of fears that he might have succumbed to the altitude after a five-day enforced stay at Turffontein.

Although racing over a distance short of her best, Enchanted Garden was a popular choice with backers. Left at the Vaal in the care of trainer Russell Laird when trainer Terrance Millard's other raiders returned to the Cape after the OK Gold Bowl, the Sun International heroine started 4/1 third favourite.

Bartie Leisher, trying to save ground from No 12 stall, had Jungle Rock out of the pens in a flash and the combination hit the front racing into the bend at the 1400m. Enchanted Garden, also having come across from a high draw, soon joined Jungle Rock at the head of affairs with Western Wind at her girth. The trio led a compact field into the straight at a sedate gallop followed by Model Man and Sea Warrior with Rule by the Sword running from behind as usual.

That Jungle Rock was not going to post his fourth successive victory was immediately obvious when Felix Coetzee gave Enchanted Garden more rein at the 600m mark. The Sun International heroine kicked away from Jungle Rock and Western Wind in a few strides and, had Model Man not been cruising against the bit a couple of lengths back, would have looked home and dried. Model Man, still on the bridle, joined issue with Enchanted Garden just inside the 400m pole and, although the filly resisted the challenge for a few strides, the writing was on the wall.

Lengthening his stride when jockey Basil Marcus pressed the accelerator 300m from home, Model Man drew off five lengths clear, while the post came just in time for Enchanted Garden to hold second place from fast-finishing outsider Beyond the Pale.

Jungle Rock trailed in 10 ½ lengths behind in seventh place, sparking a shower of criticism for Leisher. Trainer "Spike" Lerena said that Jungle Rock was a much better horse when ridden from behind and Leisher, after weeks of adulation from racing fans, was suddenly as popular as a polecat. Leisher said that he had slowed Jungle Rock after hitting the front. "I was waiting for horses to pass but nobody wanted to go on. The pace was too slow."

Viewed in retrospect, Leisher's biggest crime was not allowing his mount to dictate a good gallop after being trapped in front. Whether the riding tactics were entirely to blame for the poor showing is debatable. The colt was beaten a sizeable margin, raising doubts whether he would have won, even given a fast pace and waiting tactics. Coetzee said the pace had also been too slow for Enchanted Garden, who was outsprinted in the straight.

Coetzee and Leisher were apparently oblivious to the fact that they had been responsible for the pace. Coetzee, particularly, should have had no qualms about speeding up the gallop on Enchanted Garden for his mount was racing of a distance short of her best.

Model Man's time of 1 min 40,6 sec - nearly four seconds outside the course record - was slow even taking the yielding conditions into account and raised doubts about the validity of the form.

Nevertheless, there was no detracting from a first-class performance by Model Man. He was obviously not affected by the five-day stay on the Rand which made nonsense of the belief that coastal-based horses should run within 48 hours of arriving on the Highveld.

The R125.000 first prize took Model Man's bankroll to R457.970 - 12 times his purchase price of R38.000 at the 1984 National Yearling Sales.

Trained by Pat Lunn for his father, brother and Mr A Thompson, Model Man is by Elliodor, a son of the Northern Dancer horse Lyphard. He is the fifth, and easily the best, foal of a five-time winning daughter of Filipepi and was bred at the Odessa Stud in the Cape.

The Barclays was a meeting to remember for Basil Marcus. Besides Model Man he rode three other winners, including Natal challenger Enforce who captured the supporting feature, the R30.000 SA Airways.

Marcus became only the fourth South African jockey to have ridden seven winners at a meeting on the next day, with the winners of all but two races at a Greyville meeting.

Bearing in mind that the Barclays meeting was held on a Tuesday, tote turnover was a highly respectable R5.86 million - up 13 percent on the 1985 meeting. The percentage increase was the highest at a Turffontein meeting this year.

 

1986 Gr1 Barclays National

 

Links:

September 1986 Winner's Circle - The Best of 85-86

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