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Mon Aug 29 04:05:07 SAST 2016

Forsake the folly of youth with Abashiri

Mike Moon | 26 February, 2016 07:19

If you're easily upset by vile, racist, derogatory and sexist words stop reading now. My intention is not to offend, but duty calls and I must discuss tomorrow's Guineas Day and Prawn Festival at Turffontein.

That sounds innocent: precocious three-year-old horses being tested head-to-head for the benefit of racing fans stuffing themselves with piles of succulent prawns at a tasty price. But dig deeper and you find a horrid layer of bigotry.

The prawn's a good place to start. I once thought it was just a poncy foodie word for a shrimp, but an Australian enlightened me on another meaning: a shapely woman with an ugly mug. "Eat the bod, chuck away the head, mate," he explained, shamelessly.

I did warn you.

In the brilliant movie District 9 alien invaders are referred to as Prawns. Alien Species Wiki informs us: "Prawns, also known as Poleepkwa, are a spacefaring, sapient species of bipedal insectoids whose ship landed on Earth in the late 20th century. Prawns is the derogatory term...given to them by people of Johannesburg due to their resemblance to the Parktown prawn pest."

Not nice.

So, what are these "guineas" associated with young horses?

They're a form of currency that horse-racing prizes were once paid in. The guinea was a gold coin minted in Britain between the 17th and 20th centuries - worth between 21 and 25 shillings depending on the gold price - and distinct from the 20-shilling pound.

The name came from Africa's Guinea Coast, the source of the gold. But this African connection is where we run into trouble with the word "guinea", for it is the worst racial epithet one can use for an Italian. The very un-PC implication is "a touch of the tarbrush".

I'm sorry. Really.

Let's concentrate on racing.

Guineas races are difficult to assess. Being young and erratic, three-year-olds at this stage of the season "could be anything", as the saying goes. There's some form, but often the early flashy types don't progress while nondescripts suddenly emerge to become champions - as Louis The King did in this very race a few years ago.

Think of these sophomores as hormonally challenged students - witty, clever, excitable, lazy, confused and destructive.

The kids in the students' union who had talent but they turned out differently from how you would have imagined.

Okay, so I'm an ageist.

The best youngsters in the country won't line up tomorrow - colt Noah From Goa and filly Silver Mountain, who are resting up after hard racing during the Cape summer season.

In the male division, the R1-million Grade 2 Gauteng Guineas over 1600m, Brazuca looks a worthy favourite at 28-10, having finished less than a length behind Noah From Goa in the recent Cape Guineas.

However, it's no secret that trainer Mike Azzie regards his charge Abashiri as one of the best horses he's handled in a distinguished career.

And with him having a better draw and a better price (9-2) than Brazuca I incline towards Abashiri.

But anything could surprise. Watch out for New Predator (11-2), Muwaary (10-1) and Lunar Approach (25-1).

At the risk of being sexist, too, the Fillies Guineas looks even more baffling.

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