South Africa

Will Green With Envy become yet another winning colour in horseracing?


The colour green gets a bad rap in horseracing.

If racing was a game of Cluedo then Reverend Green would more often than not be guilty of murdering Dr. Black with any combination ranging from the candlestick in the conservatory to the lead piping in the library.

Green is bad luck they say. Whoever “they” might be.

I’m not superstitious so to me the whole suggestion is utter hogwash.

On Saturday I’ll be backing the ruling favourite in the SplashOut Cape Derby fully aware that when he wins all those superstitious souls will be Green With Envy.

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Colour is such an integral part of the sport of thoroughbred racing and I remember well the hours and hours I spent as a child tracing and colouring in the racing silks of racehorse owners. Nostalgia led me to think about horses who have had a specific colour in their name and I decided to see how many different colours I could match-up with things associated with horseracing.

I began by considering some celebrated racehorses who had saluted in big races such as the Aintree Grand National steeplechase and the Durban July:

  • Red Rum (1973,1974 & 1977 Grand National)
  • Teal (1995 July)
  • Greys Inn (2004)
  • Black Cavier (2012 Ascot Diamond Jubilee & unbeaten in 25 career starts)
  • Silver Charm (1997 Kentucky Derby, 1997 Preakness & 1998 Dubai World Cup)
  • Gimmethegreenlight (2012 LÓrmarins Queen’s Plate)

Of course many of these champions were bred in the purple.

Although not specific to any given hue (not to be confused with Hugh Bowman), I allowed for the inclusion of Winning Colors (1998 Kentucky Derby and one of only three fillies to have ever won the race) and the South African race filly National Colour (2006 Computaform Sprint).

By now I was having so much fun I widened my poetic licence to allow for some more “colourful” combinations.

Imagine the transcendental trio of stallion Big Brown (2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Winner) being ridden by Sherman Brown and trained by either Herman Brown Snr of Jnr, or Gold Onyx being conditioned in Hong Kong by Dougie Whyte and partnered on the flat by Ruby Walsh.

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Some of my favourite racehorses from the past obliged on an ever increasing list.

There was Scarlet Lady, Copper Parade (2014 Computaform Sprint) and Orange Parade. The last of which I seem to remember was trained by Ralph Rixon and who may have been a daughter of or related to the mare Lavender Bag.

There was a dead-heat for the crimson candidate between and Graham Beck’s colt Crimson Waves and Warne Rippon’s Crimson Palace.

I was knocking off colours nicely now. Three trainers helped: Buddy Maroun, Noelene Peech and Brian Cherry.

Remembering jockey Leslie Mustard, who won the 1977 Durban July aboard Lightening Shot, was an unexpected bonus.

Godolphin and Larry Nestadt took care of the colour blue while Jehan Malherbe will never forgive me if I don’t make mention of Ken McKenzie’s “Plum with a Green cap”.

I was on 22 colours and need two more to register two-dozen.

To find a meaningful association with velvet I had to revert back 80 years to a 1944 movie about my favourite race. Starring Mickey Rooney, Angela Lansbury and an adolescent Elizabeth Taylor, the film National Velvet won two Oscars and centred around a 12-year-old girl, Velvet Brown, winning The Grand National steeplechase on her own horse called Pie.

To cross the finishing line I employed some lateral thinking and risked a Stewards inquiry by amalgamating two Durban July winners Jamaican Music (1976) and Bush Telegraph (1987) and submitting Bert Amber-crombie.

Your objection is upheld.

In closing, whilst I am really looking forward to watching Green With Envy at Kenilworth on Saturday there’s one negative about being in Cape Town this weekend. My Senior Producer for European and International Football at SuperSport, Marcelle Jacobs, is herself off to greener pastures and I’m sad that I won’t be able to attend her farewell party.

Marcelle and I have worked together for 18 years. She was my producer for Monday Night Football with Terry Paine, Shaun Bartlett and Andre Arendse.

In addition to working together on multiple FIFA World Cups and Euro Championships she was the driving force behind the popular Euro-Connect show which I anchored every Friday with expert analysis from the likes of Rob Palmer (in England), Adriano Del Monte (Italy) and Paco Polit (Spain).

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Marcelle is THAT good that she is joining Premier League Productions, IMG in the UK as a senior producer.

The cliche “nobody is irreplaceable” is oft quoted but Marcelle Jacobs leaving SuperSport will put that theory to test. She departs for England with love and best wishes from myself and my wife Hlohlo, accompanied with this short poem I penned.

“There once was a true talent at my work
To create TV magic with this star was a perk
It’s gonna be Hell
Coz we’ll all miss Marcelle
And her absence will drive me bezerk!”