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Ralph Rixon Will Be Sadly Missed

A master of the SA training ranks

Ralph Rixon, a legend of the South African training ranks and the man who enjoyed such great success with the grey bomber Jamaican Music, amongst many top horses, passed away at the age of 90 on Saturday – the day that marked one of his many Gr1 triumphs.

In an interview some years ago with the Sporting Post, Ralph said that he still rated Jamaican Music as the best horse he ever trained.

Ralph Rixon – top horseman

“He was an absolute champ – he won the Nursery, the Guineas, the Derby and the July – you can’t ask for more.”

A client by the name of Dr Crohin wanted a grey horse, so Ralph duly visited Granville Gorton and was taken with the son of Jamaico in the paddock.

“We bought him off the farm. Dr Crohin came down from South West Africa with a big suitcase, opened it up in front of Granville and he couldn’t refuse! Crohin was one of the best owners I ever had. When I won the July, he said go and pick a car. I said I’d seen a nice, medium sized car, I’m not sure of the make and he said, ‘you’re not buying that rubbish, go and get a Mercedes!’ So I went and bought a beautiful Mercedes that I had for years and years. Every race the horse ran, he gave me something big. I’ve got a watch on still that he gave me when Jamaican Music won the Hawaii Stakes. I wore it for many years and one day something happened and I had to send it to Johannesburg to be looked at. They phoned and said it had to be insured, so I said insure it then. The man asked whether I knew what it was worth and it turned out to be R24k! It was a gold watch with a gold strap and one of the best makes in the world. He was very good to us.”

Ralph Rixon, Syd Laird, Bert Hayden

Ralph Rixon, Syd Laird, Bert Hayden – a flashback

Ralph was born in Claremont.

“That was right near where all the professional trainers had all their stables. Doncaster Road in Kenilworth was like Milnerton is now – all the trainers, like Gorton and Syd Garett, were along there. My mother was from Holland and came to South Africa as an 18 year old. My father was an RAF aircraft mechanic. After the war they sent a lot of planes out here and were here for 5 or 6 years. Dad was in charge of the mechanical side of them. When they packed up, he said he liked it such a lot, he was staying. He met my mother, got married and that was that.”

Ralph was the second of the couple’s four children. His sister Joyce, his senior by two years, went on to marry Terrance Millard.

“After school we used to toddle down to the stables and look at the horses. Eventually the grooms put us on and lead us around. The horses quietened down once we were on their backs and that’s how it started.”

Ralph started riding work and eventually had a string of amateur racehorses. He was also an accomplished polo player.

He is survived by his wife Val, and sons Gordon and Gary.

Our condolences to all of Ralph’s family and friends.

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5 comments on “Ralph Rixon Will Be Sadly Missed


    …and Mr. Rixon trained champion sprinter Craftsman for Mr Jonathan Pitman & Mr AJ Black.

    RIP Mr. Rixon

  2. Francois van Ghent says:

    I can still remember many years ago when Jamaican Music was running in the Rothmans Durban July, crossing the winning line first but without the jockey……. It was the first horse my late father place a win bet for me, on this fabulous grey….. good memories….”The greatest winning margin was notched up by Riboville in 1974. It was the year Jamaican Music clipped heels with another horse & dumped Tom Ratley 350m from the start. In fact, despite Riboville’s historic winning margin of 4.5 lengths, the unburdened Jamaican Music beat him home with ease! Jamaican Music won the July the following year.”

  3. RAFFIEK HABIB says:

    a champion trainer.
    what a legend.
    he trained ORANGE PARADE.



  4. Mehliss Fowles Lowe says:

    RIP. Great trainer Ralph Rixon remember u well xx So sad such deep fond memories of early racing days Bertie Hayden Snowy Reed Garth Puller Muis Gavin Voster Tickey Carr Gavin van Zyl to name a few Yes RIP Also Terry Lowe my love but the death of our four children too much Terry and my daughter Mishka now 21 ❤️ I wish she would have enjoyed the early days Tessa Travis Malcolm & Michael had a brief glimpse at …even in USA Hollywood park a second Jamaican Justice 1995 Ralph would have know Terrys father Alf Lowe and even his grandfather Ted Lowe from Australia 👍🏻Racing is in your blood once u hooked 🏇and so glad a lot of progeny Candice, Snath is keeping racing going it really is a family that u will always belong to xxx condolences for family & friends 💔💔

  5. Harold Narainsamy says:

    He also trained Wild West to win the J & B Met of 1987.

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