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Farewell To A Real Character

Remembering Lenny Taylor

Lenny, his wife Marie and daughter Nicole in a file pic which is about 8 years old (Pic- Thanks to Lorraine de Klerk)

One of the most colourful characters of the game and an ‘alternative horseman’ if there ever was one, former Cape trainer Lenny Taylor passed away suddenly from a  heart attack in Mooi River on Tuesday.

Undated pic of Lenny in the parade ring (Pic courtesy – Sue Botha)

He was working at Roy Moodley’s Stud and also held a trainer’s licence up to recently.

Described by friends and associates as a brilliant and innovatively eccentric character, Lenny Taylor learnt many of his alternative methods during a  stint in New Zealand with his sister in his younger days.

While he trained at Phillipi, he was also based at Hennie Retief’s Vaatjie Stud on the old Darling Road, where Andries and Piet Steyn rode work for him.

Horatius (Do Battle - Lucrece)

Horatius (Do Battle – Lucrece)

“Lenny Taylor was a legend. All his horses raced in drop nosebands and martingales – when they were still allowed. He strapped the saddle further back than most. His horses raced unshod. But there was little anybody could teach him. He had a helluva eye for a horse and I recall riding a lot of winners – and a double up at Turffontein – for him. The Joburg double was two good horses in Free Enterprise and London King. He just had a knack of finding the right horses for the right races. He is a sad loss to the game,”said Garth Puller.

Garth Puller

Garth Puller fondly recalls Lenny

Peter Wrensch rode work for Lenny Taylor forty years ago. He confirmed Garth Puller’s sentiments.

“They don’t make them like Lenny anymore! He was swimming horses long before it was done here. His horses slept on sand – not bedding. They raced barefoot. He had some top horses – Diadem winner Horatius – a champion sprinter was beaten a short head by Bold Tropic in the Cape Guineas. He ran second in the Met behind Queen’s Elect in 1981. He trained Bless My Soul, Arch Abu, Kubla Khan, Free Enterprise and London King. Those names should evoke some memories for the older generation,” said Wrensch, who, much like Garth Puller, has a near enclyclopediac memory and would be a first-class speaker at any racing function.

He went on to say that Lenny was near obsessive in teaching his horses to settle in races.

Peter Wrensch – ‘he was a legend’

“He had this speedball called Prove It. This horse used to bolt at 100 miles per hour for 900m. So Lenny thought he’d try something new. He entered him in a Cape Hunt hurdle race over about 3600m and rode him himself. He said that would teach him to think about settling. I can’t recall where he ran in the end!”

Wrensch recalled that when Lenny raided Johannesburg he would take his shoes and socks off before walking barefoot into the clubhouse to have breakfast with the other trainers.

Lenny leads in Supreme Sovereign (Pic courtesy – Sue Botha)

“That would have them thinking this Capetonian was a bit of a loony. So they didn’t take him too seriously – at their peril. He was the master of the old-fashioned betting coup too. There are so many guys who won big money in the good old days punting his horses and winning big jackpots. Lenny seldom missed. We need more guys like him. Colourful characters and gentlemen with charisma and character. They are a rare breed today.”

  • The Sporting Post invites anybody who may have a pic of Lenny Taylor to email us on [email protected]

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17 comments on “Farewell To A Real Character

  1. Mike Wanklin says:

    Oh dear Lenny. I recall many interesting chats with this intriguing man. When I was new to Cape racing he had a pretty talented horse called Condorman. Ran fifth in the Cape Derby. He then went in to win two legs of the Winter Series. Ridden by Mark Khan. RIP Lenny. Never forgotten.

  2. Reg knight says:

    So sad to hear,,He and his family were great,&friendly people of racing.We(Reggie Knight&family) send our sincere Condolences to the Taylor family

  3. Trevor Smith says:

    Great character of racing. Horatius, Bless My Soul, Arch Abu and Go Gavin were all horses he trained and were owned by a uncle of mine Frank Caietta – Horatius though was a true champ. His 2nd to Bold Tropic was when the guineas was still run at milnerton, ridden by Kenny Michel he was beaten a nose when drawn 16/16, unheard of back then. His 2nd in the Met was behind Foveros, and if i recall correctly Swan Prince was in the same race ridden by Lestor Piggott. Pity they never gelded Horatius he probably would have have won a few more big ones. Rest in peace Mr Taylor.

  4. Eric Fordred says:

    It was indeed a privilege and most times a pleasure to ride for Lenny Taylor a horseman with very few equals in his day, although his methods were unorthodox and mostly ignored by his peers, he produced some amazing results, and when the money went down they usually arrived. I was fortunate enough to have been able to be Lenny’s stable jockey for a number of years, along with other wonderful trainers such as Alec Nicholas and Alan Higgins to name but a few and without a doubt he contributed hugely to my success as a Jockey, in the Western Cape, giving opportunities on horses such as Horatius, Bless my Soul Arch Abu, and many others, there are so many colorful stories to be told, half of which most people, would probably never believe, rest in peace Lenny Taylor ,and to his family my warmest condolences. I will miss him greatly.
    Eric Fordred

    1. Editor says:

      Welcome Eric – your name was mentioned when we spoke to Peter Wrensch earlier today about Lenny.
      The colourful stories would take a movie to tell.
      He was a legend, alright.

  5. Philip says:

    Rode a winner for Len in the early ’70’s. Still joked about every time we spoke. Will miss the raceday chats. Sleep soft Len.

  6. Mike Frankham says:

    This is truly sad news…Lenny Taylor was A great horseman…and a super trainer. My sincere condolences to the Taylor family and to all who were at one time or another associated with this remarkable man. Yes, I soon learned too that if you had a difficult or headstrong horse, Lenny was your first port of call for advice. Rest In Peace Lenny.
    Lovely words from Garth and Eric.

  7. perd says:

    very good horseman horatius lost to bold tropic had a bad draw kenny michel up if my memory serves me lenny had to race against many top yards in the early eighties top man RIP

  8. Lenny was a master of the betting coup, waited as long as necessary for the right race , the right moment. If it took 3 months or a year, no problem, but when the money went down, they came home smoking. I learnt a lot about pulling off betting coups from him. RIP my mate

  9. Leonie says:

    I will always remember Lenny. My late husband Peter ride in a feature A grey . for him Sovereign . Something cant recall last name He told me how he never put shoes on his horses and what a eccentric character he was.it was his way or no way He was one of a kind He loved going into the sea with his horses… And had his own ideas… I recall seeing his name awhile ago in the race card and thought wow Lenny…. I’m sad to hear of his passing may he RIP

  10. Manny Testa says:

    A great horseman who always put the horse first. I used to enjoy spending hours with him discussimg pedigrees. RIP Lenny.

  11. alesh Naidoo says:

    fun loving guy we often sat and ate togather at scotsville racecourse. always with jokes. kept me smiling all day even if it was a bad day at the races. often threw me a couple of rands to give him a percentage in pick 6.Lennie will surely b missed. RIP MATE

  12. stevie395 says:

    Len Taylor…Kenny Michel…Eric Fordred…Horatius…Bless My Soul.
    Good memories.
    Sympathies to the Taylor family..

  13. MICHAEL Azzie says:

    So sad to here of Lenny’s passing, he was always like a breath of fresh air when in ones company always jovial and upbeat about life.
    Len stayed with me and my family when he got back from NZ for about three months we shared so many memorable stories. R I P my friend you will always be remembered fondly by myself and family 🙏🙏🙏

  14. Gordon Taylor says:

    Thank you to everyone for the kind words about my brother, Lenny. Although he was 17yrs older than me he had a huge impact on my life. My brother later on in his life gave his life to Jesus Christ which had a big influence on me making the same committment. I will miss our chats terribly but I know that he is safe in the arms of Jesus.
    Eric Fordred, do you remember how he got Horatius to jump clear of the field in the Guiness?

  15. Eric says:

    Hi Gordon
    Firstly my deepest condolences, to you and yours, on the sad parting of your brother Lenny. He took Horatius to the starting gates , time and time again and taught him to bounce out the gate as soon as he heard the “click” of the front electroinc latch on the starting gate, this of course was a rather lengthy process, luckily Horatius was not only intelligent but very speedy as well, I won the 1200m Diadem on him beating, Over the Air, Tuscon in a tight finish.
    Warmest Regards

  16. Jesse Naidoo says:

    R I P dear Lenny; you have left your mark in this uncertain game of Kings. I HAVE FOND MEMORIES OF YOU POINTING OUT A LONG SHOT IN THE PARADE RING,WITH A RATIONAL R EASON AS TO WHY IT WOULD ARRIVE. YOUR honesty and forthrightly nature would surely be missed by me and fellow owners

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