During these times of Covid-19 the thoroughbred racing media is understandably full of concerns, challenges and negativity regarding the industry coming from some stakeholders.
As I read all the gloomy stuff my thoughts always return to my horses and their trainers, Barend Botes and his partner in life and training Yolandie Vosloo, writes owner Willi Coates in the Sporting Post Mailbag.
When the lockdown scare started to loom large, Barend pro-actively offered me advice.
His advice has proven to be sage in that he said reduce the numbers in training, which I did by sending some to my cousin’s farm, and he said keep the good young one here and give him a break and let’s bring him back in the summer.
Much was my further amazement when Yolandi and Barend said they were sending their grooms home with pay during the lockdown and they were going to care for the horses themselves.
Further was my amazement when they built an additional paddock on unused ground, with the operator’s permission, at their own cost to give the remaining horses a space to move freely!
One month into lockdown I received the monthly invoice and my monthly keep per horse was halved. Well you could bowl me over with a feather.
All I could think was how these committed marvelous people are on a daily basis selflessly looking after our horses, the good advice I received and the looking after my cash flow as an owner in order to keep me in racing in the long term.
What an amazing feeling it was to know that these super people put my horses and my interest before their own self-interest.
If racing had started again in early May, I suppose I would have been a bit disappointed as I would not immediately be able to race.
However when my chargers return they will be fresh, stronger and I would not have to risk injury on hard tracks in the cold winter months.
I was reminded again of a time some years ago when Barend and Yolandi stayed for five days and nights in the stable with a horse of mine that developed anterior enteritis. Their dedication simply astounds me from time to time.
I now know that my horses and racing interests are with two people who always put their owners interest first. How refreshingly rare is that in these trying times?
Racing times are still uncertain and tough in that I do not know when I will experience the thrill and excitement of watching my chargers run and again experience both the highs and the lows of competitive racing.
I miss the excitement greatly because I live vicariously through my chargers’ trials and tribulations and when success comes it is such an emotional high.
I also miss being able to drive out to the Vaal on a Saturday, watch my horses gallop and debate with Barend about my horses’ welfare, performance and debate about which horse we should try to get at the next sale.
I can only publically give a sincere thank you to Yolandie and Barend for their care and commitment to putting our horses first and foremost as well as ensuring that I can stay in the game on a sustainable basis going forward.
I am grateful for their friendship way beyond the cold measure of stake winnings.
May the good Lord bless them in their journey forward in these tough times.