Ten-times East Cape Champion jockey Greg Cheyne was not the only man to bid a fond farewell to Fairview on Friday. Long-time Maintenance Manager John Loftie-Eaton, a familiar, albeit unheralded, character on the Eastern Cape’s only racecourse, rode off into the proverbial sunset on a well-earned retirement.
“I’m 65 and retirement is mandatory. I’m in excellent health, loving my work and don’t know what I’m going to do at home every day – so I would have stayed on if they would have wanted me,” an upbeat John told the Sporting Post on Monday.
John, who started out on the old SARS (that’s rails not taxes), joined the then Phumelela in 2007 after 11 years at the St Georges Hospital.
“I have had a great time with some wonderful people the daily highlights. On the negative side, the covid-19 pandemic and the Fairview riots of 2020 were terrible. I think many have not recovered from the impact of the pandemic, while the riots were traumatic and a dark shadow on Fairview’s proud history.”
John’s passion is Formula 1 racing, and he admits to not being a punter and is not too interested in horseracing.
He lives with his wife and daughter in Lorraine, his son having moved to Johannesburg.
So what next?
“Maintenance is like a box of chocolates. Every day is a different challenge. I cannot sit still at home ,so will be looking to keep busy. I would like to thank the racecourse staff, and the trainers and their personnel, for all the support,” he said in closing.