Top Equine Family Departs SA

Farewell to the Blakes

Estelle and Gavin Blake are UK bound

Estelle and Gavin Blake are UK bound

South African horseracing will shortly bid farewell to two highly respected professionals who will be taking up employment at one of the world’s leading embryo transfer centres based in the United Kingdom.

The vastly experienced husband and wife team of Gavin and Estelle Blake are a popular and successful duo in Eastern Cape racing circles, where Estelle runs the powerful Justin Snaith satellite string and Gavin heads up the Mike Bass Racing operation.

Speaking to the Sporting Post, they confirmed that they will be leaving South Africa in January. Their daughter Gabby will be flying out with their much-loved dogs in March.

“We are sad but also excited to be leaving South Africa. The limited opportunities locally coupled with the excellent positions offered to us in the United Kingdom have made the move a ‘no brainer’. Estelle was doing very well at Justin Snaith, but the Mike Bass operation has not really taken off here for a variety of reasons. I had the option to take out my own licence but it is difficult to make it viable with just 18 boxes. I also had an opportunity to run a powerful yard in Johannesburg but commuting is not ideal for family life and the budget!” said Gavin.

The Blakes are well accustomed to intercontinental moves.

Gavin trained in Phillipi in the 1990’s and he and Estelle were offered a top position by the Chinese via Hilda Podlas’ Quarantine Station in Milnerton.

An AHS outbreak saw the Chinese withdraw and the Blakes packed up and moved to the UK, where they stayed for over a decade.

The economic slump coupled with difficulties in, amongst other things attracting owners, saw them move back to sunny South Africa, where they have family.

Gavin joined Glen Kotzen out at Woodhill in Paarl and then took over the Bass PE operation in 2013. Estelle also quickly established herself, first working with Gavin at the Kotzens, and then churned out the winners for Justin Snaith in PE. Snaith narrowly missed the local championship this year.

“We will now be getting out of horseracing as we will deal only with competition horses. We will both miss the competitive aspect of this game and the great camaraderie we enjoyed in Port Elizabeth,” they said.

The Beaufort Embry Transfer centre

The Beaufort Embryo Transfer centre

The Beaufort Embryo Transfer, situated in the Cotswolds, is the established leader in the field of UK equine embryo transfer.

It is Europe’s largest and most up to date Embryo Transfer Centre with 200 mares, a full team of specialist vets, stallion handlers and other, all-important, equine staff.

Beaufort Embryo Transfer was established in 2002 and operate out of their purpose-built facilities at Elmleaze near Westonbirt, Gloucestershire, where the Blakes will reside.

We wish them well.

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