Let’s Help Charlie

The former top jock needs to replace prosthetic eye

Many racing fans will recall the 1000m Match Race between Divine Act and Brainteaser, which took place in front of a capacity crowd at Gosforth Park in July 1990 and if it was before your time, you’ve most certainly heard of it.

Charles van Booma was aboard the powerhouse sprinter Divine Act for the late Cliffie Otto.

Charlie at Vaal trackwork

Piere ‘Striker’ Strydom was riding the Mike Azzie-trained Brainteaser. In 2018 Piere wrote a brief account of the race in his column for The Citizen and recalled how it all played out, including how his mount, Brainteaser, “got whipped by Divine Act”.

“As we jumped out of the starting stalls, I heard Charles van Booma moan that his saddle had slipped slightly as he jumped. My horse was travelling quite comfortably, but at the 300m mark I heard Divine Act cruise up to me and I knew we were in trouble. He went on to win comfortably.”

Piere also paid further homage to Charlie van Booma’s skill and prowess both as a rider and a horseman, when he said, “I found out that being in a match race puts a jockey under massive pressure and one can quite easily get caught up in what turns out to be a tactical race.”

The footage of the race is a little ‘moth eaten’, but this video is well worth a watch:

Unfortunately Charlie lost one of his eyes in an awful accident, when he was kicked in the face by a horse just over 24 years ago. He’s had a few ocular prosthetics since then. But as time goes on, these custom made prosthetics need replacing due to wear and tear and also because of how the body changes shape over the years. Charlie desperately needs to replace the prosthetic eye that he has now, as soon as possible.

Charlie was and still is a hugely respected horseman here in South Africa, but due to his impaired vision, he can no longer ride in races professionally. He does still ride some morning track work for a few trainers at the Vaal Racecourse to keep himself busy and to stay involved in his lifelong passion.

Charlie at bottom in front with the Corrie Lensley Racing Stables team, for whom he rides trackwork some mornings, at the Vaal Racecourse (Pic – JC Photos)

He has been a dedicated and hard-working servant of the game for over four decades and he still has many friends and fans across the country.

Unfortunately Charlie does not have the funds to replace his current prosthetic eye, which is no longer suitable for his needs. He recently went to an ocularist to get a quote for a new ocular prosthetic – the quote is R21 000.

Any extra money raised over the target amount will help him pay for follow-up appointments that he may need with the ocularist. So R21 000 is the minimum amount we need to raise, to help him.

(An official quote is available, should anyone wish or need to see the details.)

The Sporting Post supports the plea to consider donating towards the funding of a new prosthetic eye for Charlie. Let us give back to a man who has given so much to all of us over the years.

If the target amount is reached, then we will not only have raised enough money to enable him to replace the current unsuitable prosthetic eye, but we will also help Charlie regain some dignity. Every single contribution will be immensely appreciated, no matter how small.

You can donate to this worthy cause via the Back-A-Buddy campaign, which has been set up in his name here:


Any inquiries may be directed to Emmie Le Grange – 082 343 2577.

A massive thank you to everyone, in advance, for helping our friend, Charles van Booma.

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