Profile – Deon Visser

Deon Visser

Deon Visser

Deon Visser

Although Deon Visser was born into a family steeped in breeding and racing it is only over the past couple of years that he has become a trainer in his own right. He had some fairly unusual training when he trained horses in the Sudan. In this instance it is fair to say that Deon did something very few, if any other, trainers in this country have experienced. Having had the chance to work outside of racing Deon is only too happy at doing the job he was probably always meant to do. Right now he has about 50 horses in his care and feels that another 20 or so would be ideal. He is patient and thorough with his charges and has already shown that when getting a horse with potential he has the knowhow to get the best out of them. Deon Visser is a name we should be hearing a lot more about.

What is your name and age? Deon Visser, 43 years old

Where do you live? Amanzimtoti, Durban.

Tell us about your family? I have been married to Sandra for 7,5 years and we have a daughter, Samantha, 6 years old and I have a son, Dean, age 13.

Where are you stables? Clairwood Park Racecourse and satellite yard at Ashburton.

How did you get into racing? My father was a breeder and trainer in Zimbabwe, and my step mother was also a trainer in Zimbabwe, so I grew up in a racing family.  Freddie Maisch, champion trainer in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) played a very important role in my interest and passion for horse racing.

Were you ever involved in any other business before you came into racing? I did my military service in the South African Police Mounted Police before joining Johan de Bruin and then Carl Ebb as assistant trainer.  I then worked for a company called Sweets from Heaven, as Area Manager, opening stores countrywide before going back into racing.

Is it true you trained in the Sudan before becoming an assistant trainer in SA? I was an assistant in South Africa to a couple of trainers prior to going to train in Sudan – Johan de Bruin, Carl Ebb and Alec Laird.

Tell us about your experience in the Sudan? Training in Sudan is a lot like training in Kimberley 10 years ago and the experience taught me a lot about adjusting training methods and getting horses very fit.  Training in Sudan was seasonal from November to April and I returned each year to join Alec Laird for the Durban season in SA.

Which trainer did you join when you came back to SA? I briefly worked for Alec Laird again when I returned to SA before taking out my own licence.

How long did you spend with Alec Laird? I was with Alec for about 3 years.

What lasting lessons did you learn with Alec Laird? Alec taught me great stable management and to have a lot of patience with horses and not to rush them.

Which do you consider to be the best horse you were involved with in the Laird stable? Vertical Sport, Bilboa, Lagadima and Malteme as a youngster.

When did you decide to take out your licence? I have always been a very ambitious person and had to wait for the right opportunity in terms of finance and horses to get started.

You lived in Gauteng what decided you to train at Clairwood? There were no boxes available in Gauteng and the waiting lists were very long, so I could only get boxes at Clairwood at that stage, but I am very happy and settled in Durban and the horses seem to enjoy it.

Which was the first horse you trained in your own right? Snuggler, Alif and Solar Eye.

How many horses do you have in your yard at the moment? Approximately 50.

What do you think would be the ideal number of horses for you to train? Between 70 and 75 is manageable.

Which is the best horse in your yard right now? Silent Call (Group 1 placed), and then we have some very promising horses coming through like Assogia Wood, Silent Partner, Hard Rock, Liquid Motion and She’s A Stunner.

Which horses from your yard would you think will be profitable to follow over the winter season? Assogia Wood, Hard Rock, Liquid Motion and She’s A Stunner.

With KZN season about to get into full swing which horses, other than your own, do you think are going to make a big impact? I would say Royal Zulu Warrior, Val de Ra and Igugu.

Do you have a stable jockey and how important do you think it is to have a stable jockey? I don’t currently have a stable jockey as yet, but I think it is very important, so am working towards having a stable jockey once the yard can sustain that. I try and use the best available jockeys that suit specific horses at this stage.

With SA trainers, jockeys and owners doing really well overseas do you have any plans to sometime take a horse overseas? Obviously if the opportunity presented itself, I would love to take horses overseas, but time will tell.

Do you think the success these people are having is doing SA racing any good? Yes, I think it is very positive for SA racing.

How keen are you on the breeding side of horse racing? I am interested in the breeding but feel that each horse is an individual and I like athletic horses.

Do you like to visit stud farms to look at the ‘babies’? Yes, if the opportunity arises, I do.

Do you like to study pedigrees? Yes, I love to know which matings click around the world.

Which stallions do you really like? Du Pont, Captain Al, National Emblem, Stage Call, Trippi and Western Winter to name a few.

What are your long term ambitions with regard to racing or will you take it as it comes? I would like to get into the top 10 Trainers in KZN as the first goal, and secondly to get better quality horses.

Are any other members of your family involved in racing? Yes.

Do you ever advise family members of friends to have a punt on a horse you really think will win? No, only if asked.

Do you ever have a big punt on one of your horses? No (I am a R10 each way man).

Do you have a favourite racecourse in SA? Yes, I have had the most success at Greyville, but I also really like the track at Clairwood.

Some owners and trainers are saying that nowadays it all comes to buying power. How fair do you think this comment is or does it still take a lot of common sense, and a keen eye to have success? I think buying power is important in terms of growing your yard and getting better quality horses, but it does not necessarily mean that the more expensive horses are the one’s that will be the most successful.

It is a well known fact that keeping a horse in training is now a very expensive exercise. Have you managed to keep the costs down in any way? I try to keep the costs down as much as possible and thereby maintain reasonable training fees.

For someone determined to punt horses what sort of bet would you advise if pressed to make an answer? If it was an owner, and the horse could possibly run in the first 3, I would advise them to have a punt with the 3rd or 4th place stakes cheque.  For someone other than an owner, I would advise them to keep their money in their back pocket!

You appear to be very cool and calm after your horse has won but do you feel any nerves before a big race? Yes, I am like an adrenalin junkie before every race!

Was there any particular personality who influenced you to make racing such a big part of your life?
I would say Freddie Maisch, champion trainer in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), and my father.

For you personally what has been the most exciting moment of the past year or two? My first winner and having my very first 2nd place in a Group 1 on July day.

What is your preferred way to celebrate a big win? Enjoy the celebration with the owner and crack on towards the next one.

If you have to name the most important lesson you have learnt about racing what would you say that is? To keep your eyes open, keep your ears to the ground and keep your mouth shut.

How do you spend your free time if you have any?What is that?

What is your philosophy on the racing game? I feel that honesty with each owner in my yard is imperative for everyone.

From what you have observed of racing do you think the game is straight? Yes, with the technology used, how can it not be straight.

If you had one piece of advice for your fellow associates in the racing world what would it be? Opportunity knocks once and patience is a waiting game.

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