While the sporting world rightly applauded Roger Federer’s achievement at Wimbledon, a man twice his age has reached a notable 40-year mile- stone in racing.
Summerveld trainer, Dennis Drier, has maintained his position in the top league of trainers after being granted his licence in 1977.
“I spent nine years with Syd (his famous uncle Syd Laird) and went on my own in 1977. So, yes, I guess it is 40 years in the game,” said Dennis yesterday.
Was he planning a party? “No, it will just be business as usual trying to send out winners.”
He added another three to his seasonal total at Greyville last Saturday to ensure Sean Tarry didn’t steal all the thunder which he’s done for most of the season. First race victor, Lady In Black, a R1,1 million daughter of Dynasty, looks an exciting prospect.
So – looking back – I asked Dennis what had been his most memorable win to date?
“It has to be Spanish Galliard’s July win in ‘92 – every trainer wants to win the July, it’s the highest achievement.”
Then, of course, there has been a number of members of the female sex which he has excelled with, but two stand above the rest. The duo are Beach Beauty and Val De Ra.
“To have had the opportunity to train two fillies like that – you’re blessed,” says Dennis. He gets the credit for making both horses household names.
Sadly, Beach Beauty’s first foal by Duke of Marmalade was still- born but Dennis believes the talented mare is now in foal to Trip- pi. Val De Ra had a mating with the mighty Frankel and produced the filly, Miss Frankel.
Dennis is looking to end the current campaign on a high by winning one of the rich two year- old features scheduled for Greyville’s Gold Cup festival of racing at the end of the month.
One detects he feels he’s housing one of the best juveniles in the country in the Twice Over colt, Sand And Sea.
“He’s an exciting colt, but we’re going to have to decide which feature to go for the mile or the 1200. Either way, Anton (Marcus) will ride him.”
The mile (1600m) race seems likely to be the target of Sean Tarry’s useful Var colt, Purple Diamond, who won the 1400m Golden Horseshoe on Durban July Day. If he clashes with Sand And Sea, we’re in for a great race.
So congrats to Dennis on reaching 40 years of training in the sport.
When he was once asked for his philosophy on the racing game he said: “Take it as it comes – the good and the bad.”
There’s been more good than bad in Dennis’ career.
So nice to see Jimmy Sarkis, who I’ve known for many years, celebrating with his other excited owners following Bull Valley’s win in Saturday’s Mercury Sprint.
Sean praised the four year-old’s owners saying: “They are a great group of guys who are passionate about racing.
“I’m thrilled for them that he’s pulled it off.”
I suggested that backers should “lump on” Bull Valley to follow up his Grade 1 success at Scosville.
I can’t understand how so many pundits could make Trip To Heaven such a good thing. Bull Valley had two important factors in his favour – a good draw and his stablemate’s habit of forfeiting valuable ground at the start.