Laff – ‘Ivan Was A Great Racing Man And Friend’

He loved his cigars and reminiscing

One of the true-blue characters of the South African turf, retired trainer and former jockey Ivan ‘Picks’ Pickering passed away this week at the age of 87.

Ivan Pickering (centre with party hat) seen at his 86th birthday celebration last year with friends Harold Crawford, Nic Shearer and Colin Aitken

Ivan was resident in Bloubergstrand on the Cape West Coast and had been suffering for some time from emphysema.

Known in his later years for doing a Charlie Chaplin impersonation with his walking stick, Ivan Pickering came to South Africa from Banstead in the UK as a young man and was apprenticed to the Passmores.

His lifelong friend and present day KZN trainer Paul ‘Laff’ Lafferty remembered Ivan Pickering as a true gentleman and wonderful friend.

“When my professional football career was over, Ivan gave me a chance to learn the ropes, along with guys like Tony Rivalland and Mark Daley. Everybody loved Ivan. He was a kind and generous man to a fault. We stayed close forever and we’d be together on our visits to the Met every year, along with Phil Georgiou, who also helped him a lot. I recall delivering the eulogy at his late wife Desiree’s funeral.”

On a lighter note, Laff recounted how the Passmores played a joke on the young Apprentice Pickering at his first ride at the old Clairwood.

“Ivan was being led out of the chute and, as you know, one turns left and then canters to the sprint start. The Passmores told the wide-eyed Ivan in the parade ring to shout ‘Bamba’ when he was ready to go. Bamba actually means ‘hold on’ in Zulu, and they should have said he must shout ‘yekela’, which means ‘let go!’ So when Ivan was out the chute and ready to roll, he shook the reins and shouted  ‘bamba’. The Groom leading the horse naturally held on for dear life. It was very funny at the time – and Ivan never forgot to tell the story!”

A cigar smoker of Churchillian proportions, Ivan smoked ‘like they were going out of fashion’, according to a friend.

His favourite distraction was reminiscing about the old days of racing in Mauritius and KZN.

“Ivan was a genuine good friend and a dyed-in-the-wool racing man of immense love and empathy for everybody. He will be very sadly missed,” concluded Laff.

The Sporting Post extends condolences to Ivan Pickering’s family and friends.

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5 comments on “Laff – ‘Ivan Was A Great Racing Man And Friend’

  1. Barbara Byrnes says:

    RIP Mr Pick a true legend of the turf . Condolences to his family .

  2. Russell Parkinson says:

    Don’t you normally deliver a eulogy at a funeral ?

    1. Editor says:

      100% Russell. 🙁

  3. Eric Fordred says:

    My Condolences to his family and friends, RIP Mr Pickering

  4. Chantal hogg says:

    RIP Darling Ivan you will be dancing 💃 and singing with Des…..condolences to the family 👪

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