Coenie is a level headed businessman who came into racing quite by chance and has enjoyed every minute of it. His is a no nonsense common sense approach to the game and, despite his great success and the money he has made, still wants to have partners in his horses. JJ’s success in Hong Kong was a fantastic achievement but Coenie realizes that for that to have happened took a lot of luck along the way. The humble manner in which he has accepted his good fortune is a good example to all of us who love this great game. We can rest assured that whether or not Coenie ever gets a horse as good as JJ that he will continue to be part of racing.
What is your name and age? Coenie Strydom – 47 Years of age.
Where do you live? Meyersdal, Alberton.
Tell us about your family? 2 Children: James and Sage.
What is your business? Building contractor.
How did you become interested in horse racing? At the age of 24 while sitting in a pub, I met the late Chris Oberholzer who offered me a share in a horse called One Eyed Jack.
Who were the people in racing who had the biggest influence on you in deciding to buy a racehorse? Darren Kotzen, brother of trainer Glen Kotzen. We went to army together and he always told me the most exciting stories about racehorses.
Who was your first trainer? Ike Bailie.
When did you own your first horse? Way back in 1986.
How successful were you early in your career as an owner? From the start I was a lucky owner, I had a lot of winners but never a champion.
Before becoming involved with Lucky Houdalakis which was the best horse you owned? Hey Miss Jallad.
How did you get involved with Lucky? He bought a cluster home from me and we became friends and started playing golf together.
Have you always had partners in your horses or have you owned any on your own? I owned a few on my own and still do, but to share the feeling of winning with your partners is very special.
When going into a horse with partners how do you decide what percentage of the horse you want to own? I prefer a partnership of 3 people in a horse, and the percentage is dependent on the price we pay for the horse.
You have the high spots with JJ. Is it true that he was a ‘spur of the moment’ buy or did you go into it quite seriously before actually putting your hand up and making the winning bid? My partner Hennie bought JJ and kindly offered me a share.
How long did it take before Lucky told you that you had bought something special in JJ? After JJ’s first gallop Lucky saw something special but never imagined what he would accomplish.
Tell us about the emotions you felt whilst watching JJ winning at Hong Kong? We weren’t sure if he had won, but watching the finish on the big screen I felt as proud as though he was a child of mine.
For those of us watching on TV it seemed he would never get his head in front. What did Piere Strydom say to you coming back to the winners enclosure? His smile was so wide he couldn’t get a word out.
Would you say that, apart from your wedding day and the birth of your children, that this was the high point of your life? Definitely one of the high points of my life.
How did you celebrate that night? We had a party at the racecourse, then at the Royal Park Hotel and ended the night with a few drinks at a local pub in Hong Kong.
Are you, in truth, still celebrating JJ’s great win? Yes, it is still hard to believe what he achieved.
Lucky seemed to be very cool and calm. Was he this calm or did he erupt when you guys got together privately? Yes, it all sunk in a bit later.
Is it true that JJ is Dubai bound? Yes – he is going to Dubai.
Will Lucky go to Dubai to prepare JJ for his race, or races, there? Yes – he really gets on well with JJ and knows exactly how to get him to his best.
Considering that Piere has never been beaten on JJ will he also go to Dubai to ride him there? Yes, we will keep that partnership.
There are those that now say that JJ is the best sprinter in the world. How important, or unimportant do you consider that speculation to be? He has proven himself against the best in the world so there can’t be so much speculation.
Has JJ’s success fired you on to now want to go out and attempt to find another horse in his class? I wish it upon any owner to own a horse like JJ, and I will definitely keep my eyes out for something similar.
When it comes to the buying of horses are you going to stick to buying horses in partnership or will you buy some on your own? I like racing with partners, so I will continue to buy in partnership.
How keen or you on the breeding side of horse racing? Not really my interest.
Do you like to visit stud farms to look at the ‘babies’? Yes it is really interesting to see them as babies and to then see them later as they mature.
Have you any long term ambitions with regard to racing or will you take it as it comes? I take it as it comes.
Apart from your own horses which horse or horses do you think will do really well over the next couple of months? I have always been a fan of Pocket Power, Ebony Flyer, Igugu and Mother Russia should all make their mark.
Do you have a favourite racecourse in SA? It is a pity they closed down Newmarket, but apart from that Greyville is my favourite.
Do you ever have a punt on a horse or do you like to take any of the exotic bets? I try not to punt. I prefer the exotic bets.
For someone determined to punt horses what sort of bet would you advise if pressed to make an answer? I think the jackpot is now a good bet especially as couplings no longer apply.
With racing going through some tough times do you think personal ambitions and politics play too big a part in the administration of racing? S.A still has a lot to learn but things are looking good. We have the right people managing racing now.
Which are your favourite stallions at the moment? Jet Master!!!!!!!! King of Kings and Ford Wood.
You have become close up and personal with some of the big names in South African and overseas racing. Have any of these personalities had a really big influence on you in racing and in your daily life? Peter Gibson’s name must stand out. He is doing a lot of work behind the scenes.
What is your preferred way to celebrate a big win? Spending time with my partners, trainer and jockey after a meeting.
If you have to name the most important lesson you have learnt about racing what would you say that is? No one can become bigger than the game.
You are known to be very keen on your golf .How much time do you spend on the golf course? I don’t play as much as I used to. I have a day time job to attend to…….
Do you like to bet on yourself when playing golf? Yes…..
What is your handicap right now? 14
What is your philosophy on the racing game? Good sportsmanship and it is not about us it’s about the horse.
From what you have observed of racing do you think the game is straight? Yes
If you had one piece of advice for your fellow associates in the racing world what would it be? Be passionate about racing and the animals, and enjoy it!