JACK Ramsay, a doyen of racing journalism through much of the 20th century, will be watching his 69th Vodacom Durban July on Saturday and fancies the favourite Igugu very strongly.
Ramsay will turn 90 about a week after Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event event and racing has been in his blood for his whole life.
Jack Ramsay. (Gold Circle).
He said, “Next to Dynasty (the 2003 winner) Igugu has the best characteristics I’ve seen to win the July. I think she is something special. She has a magnificent stride and just wants to win. She has that ‘come and get me’ presence about her. I felt as confident before Dynasty’s win. People tried to find fault with him even though, like Igugu, he had done everything. What did they want him and what do they want her to do – sit up and sing?!”
Ramsay views The Apache and Run For It as Igugu’s main dangers.
He said, “Seldom does a bad horse win the Dingaans and The Apache won it very easily. Then, considering he had come back from a long break, his win in the Daily News was excellent. Run For It’s J&B Met run (third place) was very good. He has done nothing wrong and I think he is only now coming to his peak.”
Regarding the pace, Ramsay said, “I don’t think the pace will affect Igugu. She has the speed to be up there and has the stamina to stay all day. She also has a very good jockey (Anthony Delpech).”
Ramsay said that two July’s stood out as his most memorable.
“Sea Cottage’s dead-heat with Jollify in 1967 and when Mowgli beat Radlington in 1952 were the best,” he said.
He was working for the Rand Daily Mail in 1952 and The Mercury in 1967 and tipped both of those great horses to win.
Ramsay’s parents both owned horses and as a fifteen-year-old he worked on the racecourse counting money.
“I also used to punt illegally at that age,” he laughed. “I grew up with racing and loved it. I rode work and have been racing all around the world. I saw Secretariat winning the Belmont by 31 lengths. He was the greatest horse I’ve seen. I also saw Brigadier Gerard, Mill Reef, Nijinsky and Blue Peter. I rode in amateur races at Scottsville and in England.”
Ramsay was a racing journalist for 52 years and said, “My work has been my life and I’ve loved it. I have met very nice people all over the world and have made lots of friends.”
He reckoned the July was a “great race.”
“It is one of those races that has something about it and it hasn’t lost anything over the years,” he said.
Ramsay belies his age very noticeably.
He rides his bicycle everyday for about two hours along the beach front and follows this by swimming 10 lengths at the local baths.
Ramsay is likely the longest standing member of Gold Circle, having joined the Durban Turf club in 1946.
He has earned the respect of many generations with his immense racing knowledge and his July views are sure to be taken note of.