Paul Gadsby first became an apprentice in 1971 and since then has been a successful jockey, trainer, riding master and now, again, a trainer. All the experience he has gained down the years will now stand him in good stead as he has a horse, Black Wing, which has the potential to reach the top. Paul admits he has a few problems but up until now Black Wing has not put a foot wrong and exciting times lie ahead for him. With only 18 horses in his string Paul has room for quite a few more and for those looking for someone keen and eager to do the best he can Paul fits the bill.
What is your name and age? Paul Michael Gadsby, 53.
Where do you live? Pietermaritzburg.
Tell us about your family? I live in PMB with my wife Beth and have 3 sons from previous marriages.
How did you originally get into racing? A family friend suggested I become a jockey because at 13/14 I was very small.
When did you become an apprentice jockey? 1971.
You are quite tall to be a jockey. What decided you to become a jockey? I was a small apprentice and only grew tall at 18 yrs, I was lucky not to have a weight problem.
What was the first horse you won on and where and when was that? Xander over 3200 meters at Clairwood racecourse on my second ride ever. I rode 2 winners in my first 4 rides.
Which trainers did you ride for and who did you have your first success with? I was apprentice to Fred Rickaby who also gave me my first winner.
You mainly rode in KZN. Where else did you ride and which was your favourite course to ride on? I rode winners in the Cape, Transvaal, Zim and Mauritius. Scottsville was my lucky track.
Which do you consider to be the best you ever won on? Taima Bluff, Scarlet Lady, Brer Rabbit, Extra Cover, The Maltster, Ace Of Spades were all very good horses that I won on but probably Scarlet Lady.
Which do you consider to be the best horse you ever rode in race with? Sledgehammer.
Did you stop riding because you became too big? No, I decided to take up training as I had quite a selection of horses to start with.
You then became a trainer. Which was the best horse you trained at that time? San Carlos who won 16 races (disqualified once) including the Star Sprint Group 1 and the Frank Lambert 3 times although disqualified once.
For how long were you a trainer before becoming a riding master? Almost 5 years when a virus wiped out almost my whole string. I then decided to go back to riding while I was still young enough to. I rode 9 winners in my first 6 weeks back but the success did not last too long. I was then offered a position at the South African Jockeys Academy and was riding master and later senior riding master for about 5 years. Being a senior riding master showed me a totally different angle to horse racing apart from being an official on race day the responsibility of teaching, transporting and being a parent to these youngsters is enormous. During my time at the academy some talented apprentices passed through my hands including: Karis Teetan, Richard Fourie, Raymond Danielson, Gavin Lerena, Smanga Khumalo, Muzi Yeni, Ian Sturgeon, Sean Veal, Keagan Latham and Brandon Lerena to name but a few.
Pretty early on since going back to training you appears to have a very good sort in Black Wing. What plans do you have for him and do you hold high hopes for him? We do have high hopes for this horse, he has just won his 3rd race in a row and has shown that 2000m is not a problem for him. At this stage we will aim him at the Daily News 2000 on June 4th.
Apart from Black Wing what other horse or horses do you think are worth following from your yard? Black Wing is our best horse but we have a couple of youngsters that have the looks and we are hopeful but it is too early to tell as we don’t push our 2 year olds. Others that should win races are Pay Packet, Flush The Funds, Front Runner and Maropeng.
As a good judge and a keen student of form which KZN horses would you advise racegoers to follow over the winter season? I am very impressed with the fillies Dancewiththedevil and Igugu. With the males Past Master, English Garden and, hopefully, Black Wing.
What is the team which assists you to keep your yard going at full tilt? Our stable is named GADSBY TEAM RACING and the yard is run very well by my wife Beth and her team of grooms including 2 excellent work riders Phumzile Kweqela, Seven Mbhele and our ‘induna’ Thabane Kahlolo.
How many horses do you train at present? 18.
How many horses do you think it would be ideal to train?In order to be competitive one needs at least a string of 40.
Do you have a stable jockey and how important do you feel it is to have a stable jockey? I think a stable jockey is a huge asset to a stable but we are not big enough yet to warrant having one.
Who were the people in racing who had the biggest influence on you in your decision to make racing your career?A friend of my late father Jules Mazzoni was the one who put the idea in our minds.
Before making your career in racing was there anything else which interested you? At 13 years of age I hadn’t thought much about it.
Who were the people who took an interest in you and mentored you in the early part of your career? Fred Rickaby, Michael Roberts, Rodney Clarkin, Alistair Gordon.
Which trainers befriended you and encouraged you when you started in the game? Back in the 70s it was totally different compared with the friendly relationships of today. It was more boss – employee relationships although myself and Alistair Gordon became close friends.
What is it about training which gives you the most satisfaction? Selecting and purchasing a really good horse.
Which do you consider to be the best horses you seen in your career? Sledgehammer, Horse Chestnut, Dynasty.
Do you think there has been a defining moment in your career which has really made a big difference to your life?I have come across many crossroads.
Are any other members of your family involved in racing? My wife Beth has always been involved with horses including doing her apprenticeship at the academy and my oldest son Julien is also a jockey presently workriding in Hong Kong. My sister Lynn Clarkin and my brother in-law Rodney Clarkin are involved in breeding in the midlands and they bred that very good horse Magical trained by Ormond Ferraris. Harold Taylor also a brother in law was chief stipe in KZN before relocating to Perth, Australia.
What does your working day consist of? We are up at 03:45 am and work in the yard or other training related jobs for most of the day.
Has the success of Mike de Kock, in particular, and other SA trainers and jockeys overseas inspired you in any way and do you have any interest in perhaps training overseas? What Mike has achieved is almost unbelievable and if I had a horse good enough to race overseas or in Dubai I would ask Mike to train it there.
At this stage of your career what are your main ambitions? Our aim is to get quality horses in our stable as opposed to having great numbers and to have as many winners as possible.
What is it about racing that makes you passionate about the game? The love of the thoroughbred, especially the good ones.
Which are your favourite stallions? Kahal, Silvano, Muhtafal, Mogok.
Do you have a favourite racecourse in SA? Scottsville was my lucky track.
Do you ever advise friends or family to have a punt on a horse you really like? Not often.
Which personalities in racing have had a big influence on your career and on your life? Fred Rickaby, Terrance Millard, Alistair Gordon, Patrick Salvage, Anne Upton, Robert Mauvis.
What is your preferred way to celebrate a big win? A double Famous Grouse at home with my wife and in laws followed by a good supper.
If you have to name the most important lesson you have learnt about racing and your job thus far what would you say that is? In training a race horse you especially need to have loads of patience!
Racing in SA is going through troubled times. In your opinion do you think that some of those in authority are too involved in politics and not giving enough thought to the good of racing? It is not only in SA but worldwide. I think speaking locally (KZN) I am very positive regarding the future, the new team of Robert Mauvis, Steve Sturlese, Neil Butcher and Tony Rivalland is in my opinion a very strong one with really good ideas and most importantly with the good of horseracing first and foremost.
How do you like to spend your free time? At the berg when possible.
Apart from racing what else are you passionate about? Racing consumes almost all of my energy.
How much time do you spend studying form? Not enough.
You have been involved in the game for a long time. In all honesty how straight do you think racing is? There is always a lot of talk but really and truly racing is very well regulated and policed and there is very little room for dishonesty.
What is your philosophy on the racing game? Win races, buy good horses and get rid of the bad ones as quickly as possible your owners will appreciate that.
If you had one piece of advice for your fellow associates in the racing world what would it be? I think the world has seen that there are many talented horseman and women in SA. South Africans are generally hard working people so I say Keep it up!