David Mollett
4 minute read
8 Feb 2017
11:37 am

New chapter in Van Niekerk success story

David Mollett

It would be fair to say the “racing gods” have smiled on popular Gauteng businessman Chris van Niekerk.

STAR. National Colour, one of South Africa’s star sprinters, is among the top horses owned by Chris van Niekerk.

National Colour’s success continues as a dam.

It would be fair to say the “racing gods” have smiled on popular Gauteng businessman Chris van Niekerk.

Many owners plough thou­sands of rand into the sport without getting a winner but Van Niekerk has not only won two Durban Julys but has also had his colours carried to success by two of the best mares to race here in the last 12 years.

Let’s start with National Colour who retired having won seven of her 10 starts including the Com­putaform Sprint, SA Fillies Sprint and Mercury Sprint. She was vot­ed joint “Horse Of The Year” for the 2005/06 season.

She also won in Dubai and finished second in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at Newmar­ket in the UK – the meeting being switched to that track when York became waterlogged due to floods.

The Nunthorpe also saw an unusual move by Van Niekerk. “I never usually go down to the run­ner-up box when I’ve run second – but this was a great run in one of the UK’s most important races so I made the exception and wel­comed her back.”

Trained by Sean Tarry, Nation­al Colour was sold to Australia and her progeny have proved im­mensely popular at major sales.

In 2014 a colt by Redoute’s Choice made A$800,000, the next year a filly by the same stallion realised A$675,000 and last year a colt out of National Colour and also by Redoute’s Choice made third top price of A$1.75 million at the Inglis Easter sale.

The yearling was bought by Shadwell Stud with bloodstock expert, Angus Gold, commenting: “He’s an outstanding individual by a stallion we know very well and his dam was a champion.”

Sean was under bidder on both the second and third of National Colour’s offspring. “We tried our hardest, but were simply outbid.”

The 2017 Inglis Easter sale is just around the corner and some more big bids are on the cards as National Colour has produced a grey filly by Snitzel.

On Sun Met Day, Van Niekerk wrote another chapter in his remarkable success story with champion trainer Sean Tarry as Carry On Alice blitzed her oppo­sition in the Betting World Cape Flying Championship to notch the ninth win of her career. Tarry told reporters after the race: “The great thing about “Alice” is that she’s now won a Group 1 race at the ages of two, three, four and five. “Not many horses can boast a record like that.”

Carry On Alice was bred at Klawervlei and – after she was knocked down to Van Niekerk and Dr JA Warner for R475,000 – the stud retained a share.

Sean speaks fondly about the two female stars he has handled. “Alice is perhaps more versatile and a hardy type, but National Colour came close to making his­tory in the UK of being the first South African-bred Group 1 win­ner. It’s been a privilege to train both.”

The Kenilworth race was Carry On Alice’s 26th start, but if she thinks that’s “game over” she’s in for a surprise. Tarry has ear­marked the forthcoming Com­putaform Sprint (a race National Colour won) as her next objective. Victory at Turffontein would take her earnings close to R5 million.

There’s no doubt that “Alice” has a special place in the hearts of Chris van Niekerk, Sean Tarry and her regular pilot, S’manga Khumalo. There’s likely to be tears in the eyes of all three when she eventually calls it a day.

Other news from the champion trainer is that Legal Eagle’s trip to America has been called off.

“He’s travelled back nicely from the Cape and his objective will be the Champions Challenge (6 May at Turffontein). “I will discuss Durban with Derek (Brugman) af­ter that, but my thinking is for an­other raid on the big Cape races.”

* * * *

I was in picturesque Noord­hoek last Friday but it was a sad day there for well-known Cape owner, Lady Laidlaw. A deci­sion was made to put down her dual Grade 1 winner and stallion, Noordhoek Flyer, following com­plications with his legs.

Lady Laidlaw will be inconsol­able as she takes great care of her horses and ensures they have a happy home on their retirement from the racetrack.