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Training Stalwart Celebrates 80

A lifetime of training horses

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.

George Uren receives his lifetime achievement award from the NHRA’s Deanthan Moodley (Pic – Pauline Herman)

“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!

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9 comments on “Training Stalwart Celebrates 80

  1. Steve Reid says:

    Ah George all the best for the 80th, and all the best for your retirement, it is well deserved. I had the pleasure of owning horses with George for some time when I was based in PE and had much success with George. As has always been my wont, I prefer to support the smaller stables and had pencilled in Kevin Coetzee, George Uren and Hekkie Strydom as possible victims. As fate would have it I ran into George at a vehicle auction, introduced myself, and arrangements were made to send him a first horse which eventually became my first winner, Thunder Spell. Ironically the horse was bred by the late Terry Silcock, who became a good friend in the years to follow as we spelt out yearlings there and had a mare or two he managed for us. Interestingly and here’s one for the people who think owning is easy, that victory occurred on 13 August 1999. The stake for the race was R27500, The winning cheque amounted to R17 187 and after deductions I banked R14 781.25. In those days deductions were 7% for both owner and trainer. Training fees were R1250 a month – thats not a typo, so winning a maiden paid almost a full years keep. Its not difficult to work out why owners numbers have plummeted since those days.

  2. Steve Reid says:

    Correction – deductions were obviously 7% for both trainer and Jock

  3. Ian Jayes says:

    All the best on turning 80 years old.

  4. bob kistnasamy says:

    Many happy returns of the day George. May you see many many more years of good health and relaxation.
    Thanks also for the wonderful memories.

  5. Sharon Patterson says:

    Happy Birthday George. Have a super day. Remember all the wonderful times we had in Zambia and then Zimbabwe. All the best Peter & Sharon Patterson

  6. Ken van Der Merwe. says:

    Congratulations Mr George Uren on your birthday. Enjoy your day with family and friends. Enjoy your retirement. You certainly have earned it. Stay well.

  7. Janet Badenhorst says:

    Happy birthday George have a wonderful day celebrating your 80th . My have we had so many great times together in Zim and in PE. Enjoy your retirement lots of love Janet, Kleintjie and family.

  8. Prasheen Harrimohan Harrimohan says:

    Mr Ed how many countries in Africa have horseracing

  9. Russell says:

    Happy Georgie have a wonderful day

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