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Farewell Peter Kannemeyer

Trained through a golden era

A Champion Dynasty. Dean Kannemeyer and his late father Peter

South African horseracing bid a sad farewell on Monday to one of the great characters and a legend of the game.

Peter Grenville Kannemeyer passed away at his Milnerton home earlier today at the age of 85. He had been ill for some time.

Peter Kannemeyer

Peter Kannemeyer-

A retired heavyweight jockey and champion trainer, he celebrated a half century in the sport after handing the reins to his son Dean at the turn of the century.

A man of extraordinary charm and genuine warmth, Peekay, as he was affectionately known, had been around the block in horseracing.

From the trials of life as a heavyweight jockey, to the glamour and success of being a celebrated trainer who hobnobbed with the wealthy and elite, he saw it all and he regaled friends and the media with great stories and tales of the way the game once was.

The Cape Hall Of Famer won many Gr1 races across South Africa but always held his six winners on a day as his most memorable achievement.

Peekay decided at age 16 to become a jockey.

He started with Spike Lerena’s grandfather, Bob Lerena, and over a period of 20 years rode successfully for Stanley Gorton, and then 3 years for Terrance Millard and 11 years for the late Theo de Klerk.

A conversation one day in 1969 changed his life forever.

His mentor Stanley Gorton took him aside and said: “Son, I am going to retire soon and you need a new lifestyle. You can’t go on bringing up your food. You are going to kill yourself. I want you to take over my stable. I will give you 80 years of experience, 40 years from my father and 40 years from me.’’

Peter Kannemeyer

Peter Kannemeyer

Peter’s first runner was a winner and his first smart horse, Prairie Prince, followed not long after that. He was a 1400m specialist and won nine races, including the Cape Flying Championship, the Diadem Stakes twice and the Clairwood Merchants.

He was a close follower of his son Dean’s yard and up to a few years ago would visit the Milnerton stables to chat to the staff.

He once told the Sporting Post how racing had changed.

“In my day the Stipes took no nonsense. Dennis Drier’s Dad Ginger was our starter down here in Cape Town. There were six tapes across the manual start. If you took a chance and jumped early you were hammered with a fifty pound fine then and there. No questions. No nonsense. And you got yourself a few burn marks on your neck for the overzealousness!”

On his colleagues, Peekay and his old friend Alan Higgins, who died in 2014, were the last remnants of a bygone golden era.

Reggie Knight, Peter Kannemeyer

The late Patti and Peter Kannemeyer, with Reggie Knight

He told us that he missed the camaraderie of the early days and said that he was privileged to have trained alongside some of the legends of the game – Terrance Millard, Syd Laird, Cookie Amos, Willie Kleb and Jackie Bell.

He quipped in a  2013 interview with the Sporting Post that his doctor told him he would live to 100.

“That’s good news. But Son, I am not sure that I have budgeted to go that far!”

A salt of the earth gentleman, Peekay will be sadly missed by all in racing.

He is survived by Dean, Mark, Lisa and grandchildren.

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29 comments on “Farewell Peter Kannemeyer

  1. lionel Pfister says:

    A GREAT man Peter . Sad to hear your passing
    Lionel

  2. Knight says:

    So sad to hear ,our condolences goes to Dean and family.”Peekay” a true gentleman of the game will be sorely missed (pictured above with my Dad Reggie Knight).

  3. Mike Wanklin says:

    An absolute gentleman. Peekay I will never forget our chats about golf !!! I truly am privileged to have known this really beautiful man. My condolences to Dean and the family. RIP Peter.

  4. Basil Marcus says:

    What a Wonderful Man.So sad to hear of Mr Kannemeyers passing.
    Rest In Peace.

  5. Eddie Luff says:

    A gentleman who will be sadly missed. RIP Peekay. Condolences to Dean and family. Eddie and Maggie Luff

  6. Editor says:

    A lovely word from John Freeman off his eNewsletter:
    I am sad to share the news that Peter Kannemeyer passed away this morning. Peter suffered two strokes in the past two years, the second one was particularly rough on him. I visited him in hospital a few times and found him extremely emotional and frustrated at being so badly disabled. Peter was always such a happy, fun-to-be-around person until his wife Patti died of cancer. He never quite got out of the rut that her passing put him in. I have very fond memories of many years of friendship and work with PK.

    Within a week of moving to the Cape just over 30 years ago PK called me to ask me to come to his stable for a drink that Friday night. That was the first of many Friday drinks parties in PK’s stable and the beginning of a great friendship. PK’s Friday party grew in popularity to such an extent that the office area had to be extended and even then people spilled into the barn. International visitors made it their first port of call. I was the doorman while he showed patrons and visitors around the yard. Going into every horse’s stable to adjust the night-sheet and spend time discussing form and the horse’s well-being. Putting his hands over the knees and joints as he checked for signs of heat. He would also stick his fingers into the horses’ mouths to check on the teeth “no teeth, no horse my boy”. I even saw him pull a wayward tooth out with the buckle of his belt in the early days (I don’t think we had horse dentists in those days) – PK was a full-on, all-round, real hands-on horseman and a very good eye in horse selection.

    PK and I travelled overseas together quite a few times to race or just to see friends and clients – they were always fun times. We were quite a formidable team at sales and had an incredible run of success as yearling selectors. If we both liked a horse it was as good as bought. We really enjoyed the time we spent looking at horses. If we didn’t have a buyer when we bought the horse PK would always reassure me that we’d find a buyer eventually – and we did. We were inseparable from that first call until he retired. We’d think nothing about jumping in the car and driving all the way from Cape Town to the sales in Jhb non-stop – and we were never short of conversation on the way, even if we repeated old memories again and again. We both agreed that we’d shared the best years of our lives in racing and as pals.

    PK was the life and soul of every dinner party – and we had many. He could turn a run-of-the-mill dinner into a dance party in a flash. He had this wonderful way of running himself down to draw compliments and then would glow in the praise. What a character he was.

    My condolences to Irene, his children Dean, Mark and Lisa and their children.

  7. Dan Katz says:

    To dean and family, condolences to you and your family on the sad passing of your beloved father. What a legend of the game. Mhdsrip. Sincerely DAN KATZ and all at HASSAN ADAMS racing.

  8. Mike Frankham says:

    A very sad day once again for Cape Racing. I was privileged beyond belief to have met and raced against Peter Kannemeyer.
    Always ‘the gentleman’.
    My condolences to Dean and the Kannemeyer family.

  9. Jeffrey Peter Hughes Ex owner Of the late Take Wings horse says:

    Had many a happy beer or more with Peter after racing was over and had a good laugh with him Great Guy. Rest in peace Peter. J P Hughes Ex SA and race horse owner in the 1980-‘s

  10. Gina Buckmaster says:

    RIP racing has lost a great character. Gina Buckmaster formerly Rogers.

  11. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Mr Kannemeyer did train in the golden Era. I had the pleasure to meet him, what a Gentleman. To Dean and Family, heartfelt condolences, and it’s not just empty words. My beloved Mother, a Place Accumulator ( PA ) Queen, passed away on this day a few years ago. Sad, but the Circle of Life – R.I.P Peter Kannemeyer.

  12. David Payne says:

    RIP peter a true gentleman ,condolences to Dean and the family.

  13. Chris Swart says:

    Over the Air wouldn’t stay 2200m

    Not only did he prove them wrong

    He won the July and placed in it twice

    Horses from the Cape couldn’t win in Johannesburg

    He went and won the Hawaii Stakes.

    One of the most beautiful horses I ever saw was Reign Supreme
    He looked stunning and won the Merchants in 1984.

    No better classic plan could a man pass down than he did to Dean.

    Without doubt a Hall of Fame legend of the turf

  14. GERALD G says:

    Rest in peace. Condolences to Dean and Family

  15. Tony Naicker says:

    A great horseman with a great eye for a horse RIP peekeey

  16. Anita Maeder says:

    Rest in peace Peter. Condolences to the family.

  17. David Mollett says:

    Over the years, I have had the honour to have been in contact with – and report on – some of the doyens of the training ranks including (in no particular order) Terrance Millard, Syd Laird, George Azzie, John Breval, Jean Heming, Pat Shaw and, more recently, Geoff Woodruff, Mike De Kock and Sean Tarry.
    To that impressive list you can add Peter Kannemeyer who I was sad to hear had passed away.
    I got to know Peter well because Gerald Jaffee – brother of Laurie – was one of his chief patrons. Gerald used to say”my brother likes the limelight, I like the cash.”
    Soon after my appointment (at the age of 27) as racing editor of the Rand Daiy Mail, Gerald Jaffee took me under his wing and we made numerous trips to Peter’s stables. I was grateful for Gerald’s kindness – young pommies weren’t exactly flavour-of-the-month in those days.
    Gerald, who later moved to Sydney and has passed on, loved nothing better than a tilt at the bookies and – in Peter K – he found the perfect man for the job.
    Once – at Gerald’s Bishopscourt home – Peter said: “Gerald, the six-month wait is over – on Saturday you can fire both barrels.” The horse won by five lengths.
    In his latter years, nothing will have delighted Peter more than the success of his son, Dean. He left knowing the family dynasty is in safe hands.
    Molly

  18. Mohamed says:

    Legend!!!

  19. Riaan. says:

    Who can forget Over the Air–RIP Mr Kannemeyer.

  20. Geraldine says:

    Condolences to Dean and family. RIP Mr Kannemeyer. A true gentleman.

  21. Kay says:

    Sad to hear the passing of a legend of Cape racing. RIP Mr Kannemeyer. Over the Air, Sunshine Man, Reign Supreme, Man of Property, Grey Phantom, Calvados, Young Captain, Hot Corn, Foreign Ambassador, Sun Tracks.

  22. Cathy says:

    So sorry…He was great ….

  23. Ike says:

    R.I.p. Mr Kannemeyer. A true Man of Property, a Sunshine Man, your horses over the years gave us such enjoyment.

  24. alan says:

    WHAT A GENTLEMAN. i met mr kannemeyer in the seventies and had many chats together. this man had a eye for a horse at the sales and did not have bloodstock agents picking his yearlings until close to his retirement when mr freeman came along. every year he would buy classic horses. he once told me ” son you must buy the blood to win classic races” he could set them up for the punt and most times they won. i remember him setting up a horse called american eagle first time out in a nursary in durban. it won( garth puller can confirm what a feat this was).all the fundis (other than charles faull) told him over the air would not stay the july distance he said it would and it duly won. he was the most loyal man you could find. when some of his owners wanted to replace his jockey he told them to move there horses out of his yard. one can write a book about this legend of a man and trainer. condolences to mark ,dean, lisa and families RIP MR KANNEMEYER LEGENDS NEVER DIE.

  25. Cheryl Blom says:

    RIP Peter Kannemeyer. You were a Phenomenonal Trainer. There was no one, at that time, that could come close to you. Condolences to all his family.

  26. Patrick Wynne says:

    RIP Mr Kannemeyer,You were one of a kind.,It was a privilege to ride for you Thanks for been a good mentor to me as an apprentice and later as a jockey.
    Condolences to the family.

  27. jEFF hUGHES says:

    LAST OF THE ALL TIME GREATS!!! WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN PETER!!

  28. Domingos Branquinho says:

    Sad to hear of the passing of a Racing legend
    A true honest gentleman of always even temperament .
    People always felt comfortable in his company and conversation.
    RIP Peter . Condolences to Dean and all family

    Domingos Branquinho

  29. bob kistnasamy says:

    Truly sad to hear the passing away of Mr. Kannemeyer. The duo of Garth Puller and the Kannemeyer stable brought us lot to cheer and cherish. Racing was most exciting and brought the crowd to the courses.
    Your wonderful character has obviously rubbed on to Dean. RIP, with the knowledge that your dynasty shall be extended.
    deepest condolences to the Kannemeyer family.

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