UPCOMING RACEDAY MATCHEM STAKES DAY, Saturday 28 September

Vaughan Marshall

Vaughan Marshall saw it coming from a long way out. What he envisaged then, the racing community is seeing now.

It was the morning of 25 October 2022. His long-standing assistant Adele Alsop answered the knock on the door at the stable and informed me that the trainer was expecting me.

On walking into his office he was occupied with the admin side of a trainer’s lot, pen scribbling on paper, and with a blue cap on the desk that he’d worn an hour earlier while watching his string work out on the Milnerton sand.

Written on the cap were two words: One World.

For those who didn’t know, or still don’t, One World was a champion racehorse, the son of a champion sire. Blue blood runs through the veins. His “dad” Captain Al was himself a nine-time winner on the track from 17 starts, and claimed one Grade 1 victory, the 2000 Cape Guineas.

Captain Al retired to Klawervlei Stud and became one of the country’s all-time great sires. He was crowned Champion Sire of Two-Year-Olds on several occasions and in 2003/04 set a freshman sire record that stood for two decades, namely 22 individual juvenile winners in a season. Sadly, he died in 2017 at the age of 20 after suffering from laminitis.

However, his legacy lives on and one of his sons is continuing to add branches to a family tree that is unmatched in South Africa. Almost in a case of “hold my beer”, One World has picked up, and now surpassed what his dad Captain Al achieved.

On the track itself One World won 10 of 14 races, from 1400m to 2000m. He won his first five starts, was never further back than third and captured the Grade 1 Sun Met, in 2020, after which he was retired.

He now stands at the famed Drakenstein Stud farm in Franschhoek and will turn nine on 1st August. When Address The Nation won at Turffontein last December, it represented the first victory from a One World offspring. When One Party won at Turffontein on 22nd June it was his 23rd individual winner as a freshman sire.

 

 

To put the One World cap and the visit to Marshall’s office into context, some 416 days passed before Address The Nation got the ball rolling that has led to One World being a boom sire. Talk about a visionary.

Between winners No1 and record-breaking No23 have been two black-type winners – One Stripe and Lion Rampart – and a clutch of other highly-promising sorts including All Out For Six and Sahara Cat. And, just for emphasis, here’s the connection.

All of Captain Al, One World and now the likes of One Stripe, Lion Rampart, All Out For Six and Sahara Cat have been trained by Marshall. To say that the man has the midas touch would be an understatement.

“I have 20 of One World’s progeny in my stable and a lot of them are very similar in terms of their attitude to racing and the way they work. Most of them look the same and it’s hard to differentiate between the colts and the fillies when it comes to their ability.”

Marshall is one of the stalwarts of the sport and when he speaks people sit up and take notice of what he says. This season he has saddled approaching 60 winners with accumulated stake earnings of R8-million.

It could have been so different. His initial allegiance lay with cricket and had he got his way he might well have been lost to racing.

What has transpired is remarkable. He is now in his 43rd year in racing and has sent out over 2000 winners including numerous Grade 1’s. So, how did cricket’s loss become racing’s gain? Born and raised in KwaZulu-Natal, the now 72-year-old takes up the story.

“I’d been offered a contract to go overseas to play cricket, which, unfortunately my mother wasn’t too keen on, so we had to put that on hold. I then went and worked for them in their bookmaking business for a couple of years. And then I left to take a position with Alistair Gordon as an assistant for a couple of years. And then I went to Tony Furness, also for a couple of years. And then in April 1981, I took out my license, and am still going.”

In 1986 he embarked on the annual trek from KZN to the Cape with 12 horses. “I arrived in the Cape with a small string compared to other trainers. In those days, there used to be around 150 horses that used to come from KZN, and a lot from Gauteng as well. But, I had brought with me Sea Warrior. I pitched up and was really confident. Then Terrance Millard said to me, ‘do you know that I have Ecurie and Potomac in the race and there’s also Model Man?’ I smiled.”

Sea Warrior, an R18 000 purchase as a yearling, produced the goods under a fine ride from Muis Roberts. And Marshall was on the Grade 1 board.

He has managed to find hidden gems at sales, yearlings that have gone on to become champions, all trained on the Milnerton sand track which he says is the best in the country.

The million-dollar question: How does he pick the future champions? He explained his philosophy. “Naturally we all look at a catalog first, but budget plays a huge part. And that’s why, over the years, I’ve never really been a big spender. I’ve bought a lot of horses, a lot of cheap horses. But I think the art in it, for me anyway, with the limited budget, was to go for first season sires. That’s how I landed Sea Warrior for instance; he was a son of Complete Warrior.”

Then, along came Captain Al, in 1996. Despite still being based in Durban, he was asked to look at the yearling by Gary Dos Santos, who was a friend of breeder John Koster. “I liked what I saw and after we bought him John said, ‘I want him back as a stallion’. On the track he won the Cape Guineas and then I took him to the Natal Guineas, but he picked up a lung infection and disappointed in two starts there. He developed a breathing problem and we brought him back to Cape Town and won the Matchem and the Diadem and then as a four-year-old we tried him in the Cape Flying, but it was too short. So, we decided to retire him. He became a revelation at stud.”

Then, along came One World. “I picked him at the 2017 Cape Yearling Sales at the CTICC.” Marshall says. “He was a son of Captain Al, so there was that connection, and he was out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Aquilonia. He just looked like an athlete to me.” At those Sales Marshall acquired three yearlings, but One World was to prove to be a game-changer. “I didn’t have a buyer and spent R425,000 on him. When I got home and told my partner Jenny it’s safe to say she wasn’t too happy with me!

“But, I got on the WhatsApp and within a few hours I had sold him, with lifelong friend Ken Truter taking the majority share and Braam van Huyssteen and Etienne Braun also coming in as owners.”

 

It turned out to be another cheap buy, given that the R425,000 yearling went on to earn R5.6-million on the track in those 14 starts. The ride itself though, for all connected with One World, became priceless. No amount of money could buy the enjoyment and the memories.

It was then obvious, given the history spanning over 20 years, that when One World joined the stallion ranks, he was an attention-grabber for him. Already, before any of One World’s progeny had come under the hammer, Marshall had the belief – and the cap, of course, that there would be no stopping his own offspring.

Marshall is now deservedly basking in the glow of One World’s stud success, with his former champion churning out the winners in as prolific a manner as his dad did. Some of them have already repaid their purchase price, and more. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Of course, racing is a sport of ups and downs and it stands to reason that Marshall has experienced his fair share. There’s a pause and then a steely conviction. “Through it all, I haven’t regretted one day, even with all the tragedies of Face North and Command Control. And that’s the thing, you know, you just got to live with those changes. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”

And that continues to this day because he wouldn’t trade any son, or daughter, of the freshman sire sensation for anything in the, well world. Vaughan Hawkins Marshall, aka VHM, take a bow. You saw it coming.

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Hollywoodbets Durbanville, Saturday 28 September