Profile – Terrence Millard

Terence Millard - champion

At the time of his retirement he had trained about 2500 winners. He won 117 Grade 1 races; 44 Grade 2 races; 37 Grade 3 races. He won the July no less than 6 times and twice finished 1,2,3 ! He won the Met 6 times; the Gold Cup 6 times. He practically owned the Paddock Stakes taking first place no less than 16 times and the Fillies Guineas 9 times. In one year when there were 30 Grade 1 races run in South Africa he won an unprecedented 16 of them. It is no wonder that even today, long after he has retired, he is spoken of with awe by long time racegoers and trainers alike. The name Terrance Millard will never be forgotten in SA racing and all involved in this great game would like to wish Terrance a long, healthy and happy retirement. Thanks for the memories Mr Millard.

What is your name and age? Terrance Millard and I am 81 years old.

Where do you live? I live in Kloof Road, Clifton, Cape Town.

Your wife, and lifelong companion Joyce, recently died. How old were you when you met and for how many years were you married? I was 13 years old when we met and we were married for 54 years.

You had no equals as a trainer. Did Joyce become very clued up on training, and horses, because of her relationship with you? Joyce was always a very accomplished horsewoman from a young age.

Was there ever a time when racegoers, and especially punters, attempted to get stable information through Joyce? Joyce was adamant that she would not interfere in my training business.

Your son Tony and your son in law Geoff Woodruff have both done very well as trainers in their own right. Did you teach them a lot about training before they took out their licenses? Tony was my assistant for 6 years. Geoff and I were close and I left it up to them what they learned from me.

You and your brother in law, Ralph Rixon, were both very involved in racing with the old Cape Hunt Club. Did you find that this gave you a good grounding for when you became a professional trainer at the age of 24 years? If it had not been for the Hunt Club and amateur racing at Durbanville I would not have become a trainer.

Who were the people in racing who had the biggest influence on you in your days as a trainer? I was never apprenticed or assistant trainer. I watched all the leading trainers and especially Syd Garret who was a supreme trainer.

When did you get your trainers licence? In 1954 at the age of 24 years.

You normally trained about 80 horses although you did, at one time, have 100 horses in your yard. You had phenomenal success with that number and thinking about it now do you consider that, maybe, trainers have too many horses in their yards? It is impossible to compare one era with another. We had no cell phones or computers. No sattelite yards and very few assistant trainers.

Do you have any idea just how many winners you had trained when you retired? Approximately 2500.

Which do you consider to be the best horse you ever trained? Empress Club was in a class of her own. She was taken over by my son Tony when I retired.

With Tony and Geoff fully involved in training how much do you think training methods have changed since your heyday? In SA trainers are hampered by poor training facilities and crowded training areas.

The feed you helped manufacture became famous amongst trainers. How much help to trainers do you believe your feed was? It is a very balanced feed with consistent quality throughout the year. Using it horses could take much harder work.

Although you do not now see as much racing as used to which horse has impressed you most over the past season? Pocket Power is a true champion.

Is there any way you could compare past champions to the best of today? All multiple grade one winners are top class.

You had many great successes with Felix Coetzee. Would you say that you had the most success with Felix in the saddle? Yes we had a great run together.

If you had the chance to start over as a trainer is there anything you would do differently? I would start over by becoming an assistant to a top trainer and then start with a good string of horses.

As a shrewd observer of the racing game do you think the game is straight or is there room for improvement? Racing in SA today is very straight.

What is it about racing that kept you so passionate about the game? I love horses. I love all types, breeds and most horse sports.

You always had a very keen eye when buying yearlings. Did you do it all yourself or did you enlist the aid of anyone else? I picked all my own horses and I was often accompanied by my wife Joyce.

Did you visit stud farms to look at the ‘babies’ so that you could mark their progress before buying them? Yes that was part of my routine.

Do you like to study pedigrees? Yes the more you know about the breeding and background of the horse the more chance you have of choosing well.

When picking yearlings what are the characteristics you most like in a horse? Good conformation, head, shoulders, deep girth, big barrel hip to tail, good gullet, clean hocks close to ground.

Did you ever advise friends or family to have a punt on a horse you really liked? Not if possible.

For someone determined to punt horses what sort of bet would you advise if pressed to make an answer? My only advice would be not to bet more than you can afford to lose.

With racing going through some tough times do you think personal ambitions and politics play too big a part in the administration of racing? I would have to say yes.

If asked to give your opinion how would you say racing in SA can pull itself out of the doldrums it finds itself in? We must have a tote monopoly as in France, Hong Kong etc. The middlemen take too much out of racing.

Which personalities in racing had a big influence on your career and on your life? I have generally liked associating with successful people.

What was your preferred way to celebrate a big win? Supper with my wife.

If you have to name the most important lesson you have learnt about racing what would you say that is? Keep an enquiring mind. Never stop trying to learn and KEEP OUT OF TROUBLE!

How do you like to spend your free time? It has varied over the years. At one time it was playing polo. Lately hacking harness horses and travelling.

What is your philosophy on the racing game? Try to be successful. Mix yourself in the best company and your horses in the worst. Remember the bigger the pot the better for racing.

If you had one piece of advice for your fellow associates in the racing world what would it be? Run your finances correctly. Control your gambling. Pray for decent overall stake money to balance expenses.

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