The Sporting Post recently published an interview with Aidan Lithgow appealing for volunteers to help act out recreations for the Legends Of The Turf TV series. They have had an overwhelming response and thought readers might like an update on how the casting is going.
With a total of 83 scenes to be re-enacted for the “Legends” series, which starts filming in and around Johannesburg at the beginning of November, the casting process is proceeding apace. Already confirmed for one of the bigger parts is apprentice jockey, Ryan Munger, who will have his acting chops tested to the full, in the role of David Payne, in the In Full Flight episode.
Jockey Chad Little has agreed to play the role of trainer Herman Brown in the Sea Cottage and Gatecrasher episodes. He will appear in various scenes at the notorious Monaco nightclub, where the plot to shoot Sea Cottage was hatched by bookmaker, Sonny Chislett, to be played by a greatly slimmed down Clinton Binda.
Playing the role of trainer George Azzie will be Grant Maroun, one of the quiet men of the racetrack.
Azzie’s chief patron, in the 1960’s, Charles Engelhard, will be portrayed by South African stage star, Michael Richard.
Journalist Charl Pretorius, the author of the book, “Legends Of The Turf” (not connected with the TV series), will portray Paul Dolt, the owner of the flying filly, Renounce.
Alas, a look-alike is still being sought for Renounce’s trainer, “Cookie” Amos (below), who is pictured with the great filly. Maybe we could dye Terry Paine’s hair?
Playing the flamboyant Martin Schoeman, who rode Elevation to victory in his first two Holiday Inns triumphs, will be another professional actor, Jesse Christelis:-
The producers are also looking for jockeys who bear a resemblance to the former jockeys pictured below, and we invite anyone to suggest possibilities, who must be capable work riders, at the very least.
George Davies, pictured below on Gatecrasher with Herman Brown:-
Fane Tenderini is to be played by Auralia Edwards:-
Anyone with a good suggestion as to who could play Bertie Hayden?
Provisionally cast in the role of master trainer, Syd Garrett is actor/singer/dancer, Byron Lee Olivato, the lead in “Jersey Boys”. Garrett was a former jockey, so we need someone wiry and fairly slight, which Olivato is.
The role of vivacious Anne Upton, the trainer of Furious, has gone to singer/actress, Natalie Chapman, who will go blonde for the part.
Anne Upton’s mentor, Fred Rickaby, is to be played by show jumping commentator, Rogan Asken.
Rodney Clarkin plays a prominent part as the narrator of many of the tales revolving around Sea Cottage, Sledgehammer and Bold Tropic, and he felt he should be played by no less an actor than Leonardo Di Caprio, but the latter proved unaffordable, se we’ve prevailed on professional stage and television actor, Zak Hendrikz to play him. Zak has more hair than Rodney had, but we’ll fix that.
Jockey Stanley Amos, who rode in races until he was 65, will be portrayed as a young man by Craig Zackey
We have not yet found the perfect lookalike for the role of Michael Roberts, but under consideration is the diminutive Jarryd Penney who might need a 1970’s-style hairpiece to pull it off. He certainly doesn’t lack for enthusiasm.
And now for the $64 000 question. Who will play “The Bear” himself, the mighty Syd Laird, trainer of seven Durban July winners?
He has to age from a boy to a teenager, then a man in his early 20’s and eventually someone in his 50’s, so it’s not an easy role to cast. And so we have settled on three performers.
Young Syd will be played by Luke Menzies, aspirant golf professional, Kyle Barker has been chosen to play the handsome teenaged Laird, whilst professional stage and TV actor, Steven Hicks, who played the lead in the stage musical, “The Full Monty”, will be aged to fill the role of the adult Laird.
Very importantly, we are still looking for four ex-jockeys to participate in some of the racetrack and training track scenes, and we have many opportunities for people who would like to play extras in crowd scenes at the racetracks.
We are also busy casting the horses whose stories are told in the series, and are looking for a Renounce, a Sea Cottage, a Numeral, an In Full Flight, an Elevation, a Yataghan, a Sledgehammer, a Gatecrasher, an Archangel, a Politician, a Furious and a Bold Tropic.
In the meantime, if anyone can offer any suggestions for any of the parts which we are still trying to cast, please contact Jimmy Lithgow by email on [email protected] or by phone on 083 228 0791.