So, today, be honest. How many times has a Clinton Binda winner stuck you out of the Pick 6?
Maybe, five or six. No, make that between 10 and 15.
Want some recent evidence.
28 Feb Turffontein: Nine year-old (yes, nine) Kapellmeister (at R25-1 on the tote) having his 94th start wins the 11th race of his career in the hands of Calvin Habib. The Pick 6 pays R239,000.
2 March Vaal: De Lujo (20-1 on the tote) is another winner for the Binda stable and there’s a Pick 6 carryover of R981,000.
While the big guns in Gauteng racing like Sean Tarry, Mike de Kock and Geoff Woodruff house choicely-bred thoroughbreds in their strings at Randjesfontein, Clinton’s yard is to be found on his property at Nooitgedacht north of Fourways.
“We’ve got a string of about 72 – mainly younger horses – and Lukas Bester is my assistant. Jockeys don’t come to ride work – that’s the way I like it.”
It’s a formula that clearly works as Clinton has earned a reputation similar to that of Mike Stewart in the Cape – he can revitalise horses who are considered past their sell-by date and get them earning again.
Kapellmeister is the perfect example. “He cost R475,000 as a yearling, but I got him for R50,000 and he’s been a good earner.” That’s no maybe – the latest win took his earnings over R800,000.
Clinton was considering retiring Kapellmeister but has had a rethink so it’s very much on the cards that he’ll reach the milestone of 100 appearances.
The 51 year-old Clinton is no new boy on the block as – with the assistance of his attractive wife Sue – he’s been sending out winners for a number of years. Horses who have excelled include Due And Payable, Mystical Jet, Night Editor (now retired) and, more recently, Al Azraq.
When I first met Clinton many moons ago, my first impression was that he was probably a bit useful on the rugby field in his youth and that I wouldn’t fancy being a burglar caught robbing his house!
It is, unquestionably, his forthright personality which has attracted owners to the yard. In a previous interview he was asked what he thought was important when dealing with patrons and his reply was “honesty and communication”. This is why he’s attracted such big name businessmen as Bernard Kantor and Larry Nestadt.
If you google Clinton’s achievements you’ll find he’s hit the news on a few occasions – at the end of August 2013 he was top of the trainers’ log having saddled 10 winners from 35 runners. Three years previously he had won two races in two days with his horse, Saint Stephen.
These days everyone wants the services of Andrew Fortune, but the country’s most charismatic jockey seems to team up mostly with Clinton and Turffontein trainer, Gary Alexander.
“The big thing about Clinton is his knack of getting older horses right – you think they’ll never win again but under him they come to life again,” said Andrew.
He’s built up a good relationship with the sprinter, Al Azraq, and Clinton can be proud of the Toreador gelding’s achievements as the horse lost an eye in a float accident en route to competing at Greyville.
More recently, Andrew has teamed up successfully with Aussie-bred Flemington and Great Britain’s son, Whorly Whorly.
This one cost R60,000 and Clinton is quick to stress that’s his sort of price range which is why you’ll see him searching for bargains at dispersal sales and Michael Holmes’ Horses-In-Training sales.
So when you’re selecting your horses for the Pick 6, it would be wise to check on those representing the stable of C Binda.
Don’t worry if the horse is wearing shoes or not – that’s another task undertaken at Nooitgedacht as Clinton studied as a farrier in America and does his own shoeing.
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As the barman in Chris van Niekerk’s Turffontein box poured one of his famous “trebles”, I remarked to the chairman of Kenilworth and Cape Thoroughbred Sales that “it had been a long time between drinks since we’d supported one of your top horses in Hong Kong or the UK”.
That could change if – as seems possible – his two year-old Turffontein winner, Barrack Street, lives up to his pedigree and matures into a top performer.
As Sean Tarry kept his seasonal tally ticking over at Saturday’s meeting like an inform batsman, it was the way Barrack Street put to bed some useful rivals – including Vaal winner Alfolk – that was really impressive.
The two year-old son of Dynasty – presumably named after a street in Cape Town’s CBD – races for Chris and Mayfair Speculators and the big mystery is how they managed to buy the colt for just R500,000.
Dynasty was represented by 11 yearlings at the CTS Premier Sale in January and they averaged R1,645,000!