Strong field for Castle Tankard

HARARE - A field of 10 top-rated horses will line up at Borrowdale Racecourse’s starting stalls next month bidding to claim Africa’s oldest sponsored race — the Castle Tankard whose stake has been set at $50 000.

The country’s only Grade One race will sadly not feature any locally-bred horses due to the high cost of breeding in Zimbabwe.

However, that has not taken the gloss away from the quality field which runs over the classic distance of 10 furlongs, approximately 2 000 metres on May 5.

Bookmakers have pinned Kilrain, who reigns from champion trainer Mike de Kock’s yard, as the favourite.

The top class international campaigner will jump from Gate Two carrying a weight of 59kg ridden by M Byleveld with a price of 2-1.

Jumping out of Gate One is 2017 Castle Tankard winner Comanche Brave, who is bidding to claim a double.

Comanche Brave will shoulder 58,5kg and comes into the race among the front runners at odds of 4-1.

The South African horse, who won the 2017 title ahead of Royal Honour and Mathematician, will this time be under the guidance of Bridget Stidolph.

Stidolph has four other runners in the form of the Leven Point (16-1), Roman Discent (20-1), Mathematician (10-1) and the only filly in the race, Simona (14-1).

Simona could reward brave punters with rich pickings if she can emerge as a dark horse to be among the top three in the Grace One race.

To do that, her trainer will hope she draws inspiration from Equina, who was never a favourite of bookmakers but rose against the odds and became the queen of the double.

Speaking at the 2018 Castle Tankard Final Acceptances Event, Stidolph is hoping one of her five runners will hit the jackpot come race day on May 5.

“With regards to all my horses the preparations are going well at the moment. For Comanche he has only been with me for a couple of months and has a couple of starts and a win.

“He has a good draw and we just have to wait and see what happens on race day,” Stidolph said.

Mashonaland Turf Club maintained that although the line-up is not big, there is a lot of quality with owners investing heavily to try and pull of the 56th edition of local horse racing’s most coveted prize.

Horse trainer Kirk Swanson is pinning his hopes on his two runners Amsterdam (5-1) and rank outsider Phantom Major (16-1).

Delta general manager Munyaradzi Nyandoro said the association of the brand Castle and horse racing started in 1904 and has grown from strength to strength.

He added that Castle Tankard’s rich history was testament of the brand’s timeliness for generations past and present.

“We have therefore spent $1 500 000 in the past five years on the Castle Tankard programme alone at an average spend of $300 000 per year,” Nyandoro said.

“The sponsorship covers consumer promotions, media workshops to ensure basic standards are met in staging an event of this nature. These developments have also been necessitated by our desire to align with one of our Sustainable Development imperatives in Growing Livelihoods. Horse breeding is one important tool to grow livelihoods.

“As Delta, we challenge you all to continue to aspire for bigger and better things. It all starts with identifying your passion and taking steps to develop it.

“We are here today to interact with you, listen to you and hopefully challenge you to take those important bold steps that will determine your future.

“The horse racing event has grown to become an open race where anyone can enter, from humble beginnings of Castle Brewery Invitation Stakes in 1960.”

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