A man who trained horses for over half a century, George Uren celebrates his 80th birthday today.
He told the Sporting Post that he would be spending it ‘quietly’ at his home in Port Elizabeth.
George Uren called it a day and relinquished his licence at the end of the last season.
He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the industry – all of fifty two years after he started training horses in Zambia.
“The game has changed a lot in the decades that I trained horses. It has evolved. I miss it but I am frankly happy to be on the other side of the fence and relaxing. I will leave it to the youngsters. It’s a complicated industry today with so many facets to it,” he mused as he recalled that he grew up in Johannesburg but moved with his parents to Zambia in November 1953.
“I remember the move well. I turned 14 the next day. Those were good years. I have been involved with horses all my life. I showjumped and won a few races as an amateur jockey. But I was always a bit heavy. My brother was a better rider,” he recalls modestly.
George started training in 1967 and then moved to Zimbabwe in January 1970.
In a rare training feat, he won the Castle Tankard twice – in 1978 and 1979 – with Taranaki. He had many good horses in Zimbabwe and says they were great days.
He moved to South Africa in 1984 and initially spent two years in PE.
“I took a while to settle down. I tried KZN – it wasn’t for me. And then I moved to Cape Town. I liked that less. So I went back to PE in the late 80’s. That has been my home ever since. It’s a wonderful place to race and to live,” he says.
George’s memory is good and he says that he was fortunate to train many good horses in his thirty odd years in the Eastern Cape.
We asked him which one would ranks amongst the best of them.
“It’s difficult to say! But probably Central Pacific was one of my best. WillIe Uys won the East Cape Derby on him in 2004. The horse that won the July the next year – Dunford – was third. So it was a good year and it is always an honour to keep the silverware at home,” he said.
Happy birthday Uncle George. And many more!