Profile – Gareth Pepper

Gareth Pepper

Gareth Pepper

Gareth Pepper is an ambitious 24 year old with an absolute passion for racing and all it involves. He has already spent time with Robin Bruss getting a thorough grounding in the bloodstock business and persevere in order to get a job with tellytrack learning to be a presenter. He has now started his own bloodstock business and if passion and enthusiasm are anything to go by he should make a big success of it. Whatever happens those in the racing game are sure to hear a lot more about Gareth.

What is your name and age? Gareth Pepper and am 24 years old.

Tell us about your family? My parents are Brett and Barbara Pepper. My younger brother Michael is a 4th year law student at UJ.

How have your family influenced and mentored you in your life? My father influenced my love for the game when I was very young. And my mom has been a successful business owner for the past 26 years. They have always inspired me to be the best I can be.

Were you or your family in any way connected to horses or horse racing? From the early 80’s, my father Brett owned and bred horses. He was the start of this obsession I have with horse racing. He was a continual source of information and guidance. My mom Barbara was and still is one of my biggest supporters. During my teenage years she would take me to the training centre as early as 4am (summer or winter) take me racing and generally run after me and my dream. I always dreamt that I would train horses. That dream is on hold at the moment, but she was a great help.

How did you get involved in horseracing? At school I became friends with the Azzie twins and I eventually started going to Mr. Azzie’s stable’s on weekends and in school holidays. It progressed to me eventually going to The Racing and Equestrian Academy to learn the finer details of training. I made some good friends there and some of the apprentices who were in class with me include Gavin Lerena, Richard Fourie, Raymond Danielson and Muzi Yeni. I must add that it is great to see how well they are all doing! I completed matric in Johannesburg and then four days after my final exam I moved to Durban with just my clothes and my car and started to work for Dave Goss.

You are a Tellytrack presenter. How did you get involved ? Tellytrack ran an advert asking for people to apply as presenters. I applied, did a screen test and then a decision was made that no new presenters were actually needed. I refused to give up and at the time Neil Pretorius was the operations manager there. I would visit the studios at least twice a week, email Neil and always just show that I wanted to present. Eventually he gave me a chance and now I get regular shifts at Tellytrack. I really enjoy presenting and do it because I love this industry and I want to try and promote it as much as possible.

Is the Tellytrack work stressful and does it require a lot of prep? It can get stressful in studio especially when the races are coming every few minutes. I can only speak from my side and say that I study our local race-meeting the night before and I also go through as much of the International racing as I can before I go on air. I feel the more I prepare the less the stressful it is.

Do you find you are recognized in public places as a result to your exposure on TV? This is quite funny because recently people in my complex have started recognizing me.  I must say that on the racetrack and at sales, people have definitely started recognizing me more than usual.

Whilst working at Northfields did you find it exciting and challenging to study bloodlines and the conformation of horses? This aspect really interests me. It is amazing what patterns and nicks you pick up. On the confirmation side it is uncanny to see how certain stallions stamp their progeny and how conformational effects keep coming through.

What did you find the most challenging aspect of being a bloodstock agent? For me the most challenging is to please every client. In saying that, I love sales and also I really enjoy finding the specific horse a client is looking for. All I want is for my clients to be successful but, most importantly, that they must be happy and enjoy their racing.  I will do whatever is needed to make sure this is possible. I will be at the upcoming national two year old sale and I look forward to answering any questions or queries anyone may have for me.

Were there any unsavoury aspects about being a bloodstock agent that you are willing to talk about? There is a stigma attached to bloodstock agents that I feel is not fair. I believe you cannot judge anyone until you have met them and have dealt with them

There have always been suspicions of horse being bid up but did you, personally, know of such things happening? Personally, no, but you do hear of this happening. I feel it is very dishonest and I would never take part in this. It can take someone their whole life to build up a reputable name or business, and one wrong move or bad deal can taint you forever.

You have moved from Northfields to a new place of work. Explain your new role and plans. After two years at Northfields, I felt it was time to try things on my own. I enjoyed working there and Robin Bruss taught me a lot.  I believe that this is the perfect time for me to be independent and put myself out there. I have opened up my own bloodstock company and I’m looking forward to what lies ahead and I have faith that things will go well

Did you find your recent trip to Singapore informative and what impressions did you gain? Singapore is such a beautiful place. But what is even more impressive is how smooth the racing is run. I went as part of the media contingent and I was treated like gold. The turf club looked after us so well it felt as though we had horses running on the big day. It seems the turf club believes the media is very important and also will be marketing their racing all over the world.  I was thoroughly impressed with how we were looked after. I can’t wait to go back as I feel Singapore has been the best overall racing experience from my travels.

What is your most memorable day in racing thus far? The day I had my first winner. It was with a filly called Chastity and she won first time out – That is also probably one the best days I have had in my life-nothing beats the feeling of having a winner!

If you could get a free stallion service anywhere in SA where would you send your mare? This question is a tough one. If I was breeding to sell then I would say Jet Master or Western Winter. If I were breeding to race it would be Western Winter or Horse Chestnut as they are two of my favourites. We have great deal stallions standing in this country !

Outside of racing what else are you passionate about? I enjoy traveling, food, music, sports and spending time with my loved ones.

Which horse, Igugu aside, do you rate as the best horse running in South Africa right now? There are many talented runners at the moment and this would be tough, but I rate Run For It, Solo Traveller and The Apache. I also like the look of the juveniles Gimmethgreenlight and Potala Palace.

With the Cape summer season just around the corner which horses do you think will be exciting to follow? I am looking forward to Gimmethegrenlight’s 3 year old career as I really do rate him and I also can’t wait to see how Ebony Flyer does after her long absence.

If you have to name the most important lesson you have learnt about racing thus far what would you say that is? I have learnt not to take my eye off the prize for even one second because as soon as you think things are done, or close to, they can be even further away.

If pressed to advise anyone how they should bet in order to make money punting what would you say?  Personally, I am not much of a gambler, but I’d say play with your head and try enjoy it.

How much time do you spend studying form? I spend as much time as possible. I enjoy using formgrids – I think it is a website for the future. I can spend hours looking at form lines!

The battle between Anthony Delpech and Anton Marcus for the champion jockey title has really caught the racing public’s imagination. Do you believe there should be more of an incentive by the authorities to get the jockeys to strive for the title from day one of the season? I think Anthony and Anton are both seriously striving for the Championship. Personally it is great to watch and if I could, I would reward them both for the superb showing they are putting on.  I think the biggest prize though is holding that Champion Jockey’s Trophy.

The control of racing is now very strict. Is there anything more, in your opinion, that you think the authorities could or should do to make racing even straighter? I think that the NHRA do a terrific job. It is tough. I know as a presenter when objections happen we do our best to bring info across as best we can and when I work on course I try and get as much info as possible and get it to the studio as soon as I can. I believe racing is straight.

What is your philosophy on the racing game? If I went back in time 100 times, I would always end up in this industry. I am realistic and I pride myself on always being honest and approachable. This is such a wonderful industry and it brings people of all walks of life together. We have proven that our jockeys, trainers, breeders and horses are all world class. I just wish we could raid internationally more easily as I feel that what we have done internationally is just the beginning. Thankfully the right people have now taken this task head on and I am sure a positive outcome will be reached.

If you had one piece of advice for your fellow associates in the racing world what would it be? Don’t forget what it’s all about. Enjoy the game, love the game and embrace it. It’s hard enough to make it out there today so make the best of it. We only get one shot.

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