Paul Reeves fell in love with horses at the tender age of 4 and has made it his business to be involved on a full time basis. After starting as a jockey Paul is now a trainer in the Western Cape and thoroughly enjoys his life. At the moment he has a relatively small string which gives him time to devote all his energies to his horses. He is confident that he has a number of up and coming young horses who will be racing soon and he has high hopes for them. With the Cape summer season about to start Winning Form will follow Paul Reeves with great interest and with the expectation that he will turn out some very nice horses.
What is your name and age? Paul Reeves, age 44
Where do you live? Cape Town.
Tell us about your family? My wife Charlmain and two daughters Stacey and Claudia.
Where did you spend your youth? Born in UK moved to South Africa at the age of 4.
What is your earliest memory of wanting to be involved with horses? At the tender age of eight.
Were you or your family in any way connected to horses or horse racing? Not at all-I just loved horses from a very young age.
How did you get involved in horseracing? I applied to the jockey academy at the age of 14. Luckily I was the correct size and weight as the requirements stated.
Do you remember your first ride and what it was on? My first ride was on Rum Punch at Scottsville for trainer Mr. Passmore.
You were a jockey before becoming a trainer. What does it feel like going flat out down the track with a pack of horses chasing after you? I don’t believe one can explain the adrenalin of being in a race. It is the most exhilarating feeling one can have.
What was your first winner and what feeling did it give you crossing the line in first place? My first winner was my third ride in a race on Tiffany Street 1600m at Clairwood.Can’t explain the feeling but you never forget your first winner.
Where were you based as a jockey and who did you ride for? Based in Cape Town but travelled around to the various centers Gauteng, Durban, Bloemfontein and Mauritius.
After retiring from race riding you spent time in the UK doing pre training work. Do you find the UK racing industry different to South Africa and what were the most important experiences you brought back with you? The UK Racing is well organized, very different; racing is a very big industry in the UK. Only the wealthy can afford to own a racehorse. Professionalism and how to run a smooth operation is something I brought back with me.
Who did you work for in the UK and how long were you there? I worked for Newsells Park Stud (Newsells Park Stud is the mother Stud to Maine Chance Farm). I worked for Newsells Park Stud for a period of three years where I ran the pre training yard for the likes of Sir Michael Stoute, Mark Johnson, Marco Botti and Patrick Haslem.
You started out training in Philippi and are now based at Milnerton. How do you think the two centers compare? Whilst I was at Philippi I enjoyed my time but my main concern was that I had very little room for growth. Milnerton suits myself and my clients as it has a variety of tracks. I feel I will be more successful at Milnerton now that we are settled in.
Do you feel you get a different perspective on how a horse is working from the saddle as opposed to how you see him from watching on the ground? Absolutely I do think its good to know both-on board and on the ground. It certainly is an advantage working the horse to get the feel as to how they are working.
Some people say they can feel when they are on a good horse. Others have ridden champions and say they feel like plodders. Does a ‘big’ horse give you a different feel to an ‘ordinary’ one? Yes it does as any good rider will tell you but there are the exceptions. Some horses only work well in the sand and don’t put it together on the grass but that is a small percentage.
Racing is no ordinary job and can be very tough. What motivates to get up in the vold and dark and sometimes wet to go to the stables? For me it is all about job satisfaction and having the will to train winners. I worked in the UK for three years so there is no problem with the elements.
What is your favorite aspect of training and what is the best part of your day? No doubt winners. The best part of my day is when I check all my horses after work and see that they are sound and have their heads in the manger.
What is the thing about training that you like least? I have no dislikes and I have job satisfaction. There are the odd days when something unforeseen goes wrong as horses are animals and not machines.
Which is the best horse in your yard and which of your horses do you feel could win their way into the top division? I have a couple of very nice young horses. I’m sure you will see them soon. At this stage there three or four which I cant separate.
Which team assists you to run your stable ? My wife Charlmain and Ramond who is the farrier. Without good feet you have no horse. My loyal and understanding patrons and my grooms make up Reeves Racing team.
The high’s of the game are fantastic but how do you cope with the lows?The lows are just another day just as long as you learn from them and move forward.
Do you find that people treat you differently when you are having success as opposed to when things are not going well? We have a very supportive client base who understand racing. Most people feel you’re as good as your last winner but like a jockey you can’t win without the horse.
What has been the most exciting and satisfactory day you have had as a trainer thus far? My first winner and having a double on a day with both horses being at 100/1.
Have you modeled your training style on any trainer you particularly admire or have you decided to do it ‘your‘way? It’s ‘my way’. All horses are different so there isn’t only one way to train them.
Do you believe there are enough young guys in horseracing at all levels? If not, how do we remedy this? In my opinion we need the youth of today to be brought into racing as they have different ideas and will give racing a fresh feel and a new look to this fantastic sport.
Racing is going through a particularly tough time. Have you any suggestion as to how more interest could be generated in the game? We need to make the public more aware of race days by more advertising for various up and coming events. Generate more people on course through affordable lunches so that the public can make a days outing to the races.
How much do you think your grooms influence the horse’ performance? In my opinion my grooms do play a big part in the performance of a horse as an unhappy horse will not give of its best.
Which stallion’s progeny would you like to see in your yard? I don’t believe it is all about stallions but, obviously, top breeds have an advantage. Not every owner can afford top stallion prices so all are welcome in my yard (horses don’t know what they cost).
Outside of racing what else are you passionate about? I enjoy fishing at the Breede River, and off road driving.
Which horse, Igugu aside, do you rate as the best horse running in South Africa right now? I like to side with horses that have proven themselves Pierre Jourdan and The Apache.
With the Cape summer season just around the corner which horses do you think will be exciting to follow? Princess Victoria, Pierre Jourdan and Past Master will be a few to follow.
If pressed to advise anyone how they should bet in order to make money punting what would you say? All on bets give good value along with the place accumulator.
How much time do you spend studying form? I don’t stop studying form. When you place horses in races you need to know your opposition.
If you had one piece of advice for your fellow associates in the racing world what would it be? Follow your gut feel and what you believe in-don’t be distracted by others.