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Bryn Ressell

Bryn Ressell

48 year old BRYN RESSELL could be said to have come a long way from his beloved school, Dale College in King Williams Town, to being managing director of Kepu Trading. Along the way he met and became closely associated with well-known personalities like Marsh Shirtliff and Markus Jooste. This led him into horse racing and he is now the proud owner of What A Winter, Captain’s Secret and the exciting Hammie’s Hooker, amongst others. Hammie’s Hooker, trained by Mike Bass, is setting the racing world alight and with 4 straight wins under her saddle her future looks bright, indeed. There can be no doubt about Bryn’s passion for racing but his love for his old school, Dale College, and his involvement with his rugby club, Hamiltons, also rank high on his list of priorities. It may be said that Bryn is a man for all seasons. At this stage the racing public will be following the exploits of Hammie’s Hooker with bated breath.

What is your star sign and birthdate?  Virgo 27/8/1964.

Where were you born?  City of Gold- Johannesburg.

Where do you live?  Paradise-Cape Town.

Tell us about your family? I am married and we have two young sons eight and five respectively.

Do you have a ‘nickname’?  Fatboy (not sure why) I am just short for my weight.

Favourite food? Italian.

Favourite drink? The one in front of me or, these days, a green tractor.

Favourite music? Neil Diamond, definitely none of the head bashing stuff.

Favourite sport? Rugby.

Are you interested in soccer, if so, which is your favourite soccer team?  Yes my local side is the “Bucs”, Orlando Pirates, and my English side is Liverpool.

Favourite books? The Old Man And The Sea, The Prize and sporting autobiography’s.

What are you currently reading? The King of Oil, Marc Rich.

Favourite movies? Arthur, Kelly’s Heroes.

Do you have any role models, if so, who are they?  A lot of people have been role models in my  life, from parents to coaches, to teachers, to headmasters, to bosses, but I think the best “role model” for me is the poem IF by Rudyard Kipling. I think those words say it all.

Favourite holiday destination?  Port Alfred, Fish River.

Where did you grow up and what school did you attend? Eastern Cape, South Africa’s best kept secret, Dale College, in King Williams Town.

What were your main interests at school?  Sport and more sport. Schoolwork was an unnecessary evil.

While at school were you interested in horse racing? No, I was not even aware of the sport of Kings.

Are any of your family involved in racing in anyway? My grandfather loved the horses and this earned him the nickname Sir Horace horse collar.  Rumour has it he may have lost a cent or two on the gg’s.

You hold a degree as a Bachelor of Commerce and you also majored in Accounting & Economics. Where did you get those degrees?  Started at UCT and completed my degree through Unisa.

Where did you start your working career? My first job, believe it or not, was as a runner at Milnerton racecourse for one of the bookies. I then got a full time job at an oil company, MANY years ago. It was with a company called Mobil Oil as an accounts clerk.

How soon after starting your business career did you become involved in racing particularly as an owner? I only recently became involved with horses. It was due to a long afternoon at  Vasco’s (best pub in Cape Town). They had the horse sales on TV and two mates and I decided to buy some horses. Incapable of getting through to the sales on our cell phones I called Marshy and awoke the next day to be the proud owner of 3 horses…..as they say not so clever in the morning.

Right now you are managing director of Kepu Trading. What does this entail and how much spare time do you get to indulge in racing? Kepu is a trading company so we basically put buyer and seller together. Fortunately, for cellphones I do get the chance to watch the horses now and again.

Kepu Trading imports and exports cargoes for South African oil companies. What does this entail?  Sourcing of the product and getting all the financial instruments in place. Taking care of the logistics and ensuring that you have a happy buyer and seller.

Kepu Trading was formed in 2003. How many employees did it have then? Three.

You are responsible for the Trading and Shipping divisions within the Calulo Group. How are Kepu Trading and the Calulo Group involved with each other?  The Calulo group is the holding company. Kepu is the trading division of Calulo services that provides various services to the Oil sector. Included in Calulo Services is Calulo Shipping, Themba shipping (dry cargo), Sturrocks ships agencies, Stolt Nielsen Africa and Cape Demurrage Services. In a nutshell we supply Logistical services to the oil industry as well as to shipping for Dry Cargo.

Does your business involve much overseas travel and, if so, do you do much racing overseas?  I do travel overseas a lot and would love to see our horses running there but, until all this mess is sorted out preventing our horses to travel, I don’t think I will see any of our horses running overseas. I believe it is a loss to the international racing scene, SA has a lot of true champions that should be seen competing on the world stage.

Calulo is involved with Investec in the petrochemical industry. This is a really big industry. How involved are you, personally, with that side of the business? Chemicals are not one of my strengths. I have a great relationship with Investec who are our partner in Calulo Investments.

Was there any one person who influenced you to become an owner in the racing industry? Definitely Marshy, without him it would not have happened for me, THANK YOU Marsh.

Who was your first trainer? Mike Bass.

Which was the first horse you ever owned and how successful was it? Rose Reserve. She misled us as she won her first two runs, second in her third and won her fourth. It made it look like an easy game BUT reality set in.

How many horses do you own at the moment and are they all in partnership?  As I said I went to Dale so maths and counting is not my strength. One or two I believe.

Apart from What A Winter and Captain’s Secret, which are the best horses running in your colours?  Hammie’s Flyer, Hammie’s Dynasty and I hope and pray Epic Tale soon. Of course let’s not forget Marius.

You are now the proud owner, with Marsh Shirtliff and Markus Jooste, of the brilliant Trippi filly, Hammie’s Hooker. How did it come about that you bought this filly?  A lot of red wine and one or two whiskies and a LOT of luck, she’s a beauty.  Marshy knew this from the start that’s why she runs in his colours.

How soon after getting her did her trainer, Mike Bass, tell you that he thought you had bought something special? Mike is never one to speak too soon but his body language shows that he thinks very highly of her.

She has now won 4 races in succession and appears to have lots more to come. At this stage what plans have been made for her?  Mike, as you know, does not push his horses. She has not left Cape Town so I think probably the big races in our summer season.

Have you been on the course to watch her winning those races and will you be able to always watch her when she races? I have been fortunate to watch all her runs and,  with a bit of good fortune,  I’ll be there to lead her in on many more occasions.

It is still early days but if she continues in her winning ways would you consider breeding with her when that time comes?  I think Marshy and Marcus have got that all taken care of. Maybe one day we get the Hooker and What A Winter together. That could produce a good thing.

Who do you consider to be the best horse you have owned thus far?  What A Winter.

Which of your horses, apart from What A Winter, Captain’s Secret and Hammie’s Hooker, do you think will fare best in the future?  Hammie’s Dynasty, Hammie’s Flyer, Tevez and please please my choice Epic Tale.

Are all your horses with trainer Mike Bass?  No.

Which other trainers do you have horses with?  That mad man in Joburg,  Lucky Houdalakis, Dean Kannemeyer, Mike de Kock, Piet and Andries Steyn, Vaughan Marshall but the majority are with Mike Bass.

Do you ever go to the track to watch your horses working in the morning?  Yes, but not as often as I would like.

Do you enjoy going to the stables to see your horses, and other horses, when they are relaxed and eating or being groomed?  I do enjoy it. It is magic to see how well cared and loved they are. At times a role reversal could be good to let them work and stress and let the owners be pampered.

Do you leave it to your trainer to put up who he considers best for the horse?  That’s always the trainers call. If the jockey wins it was my shout if he loses it’s the trainers fault, you know how it works.

How long did you wait, as an owner, before landing your first big race?  We were very fortunate with Rose Reserve. She won a big race early on in her career.

How interested in racing are the rest of your family?  Very, especially my youngest son. He is a little too interested. He definitely has the horse bug. He is learning to be a commentator as well as re-running the race himself and believe me his horse never loses. Clyde Basel and his team need to be congratulated on what they are doing to get the kids involved in racing. May it go from strength to strength.

How much interest do you take in the breeding side of the game?  Not much at this stage but I think that’s the next move.

Do you like to visit stud farms to see the stallions and mares and to see the ‘babies’ before they come to the various sales?  I leave that to Marshy, Mike and Marcus, they know what they are doing.

When buying yearlings, or older horses, do you get advice from your trainer or any bloodstock agents or do you buy them on your own?  Again its mostly Mike, Marshy and Marcus with a little help, or dutch courage, from the refreshments provided.

What do you look for in a horse before buying it?  Firstly I look for my bank manager (GK), but, honestly, I leave it to those who know.

Racing and business are obviously your main passions in life. Outside of them what else are you really interested in?  My lifelong passion is our rugby club, the oldest and greatest I believe in SA. Hamiltons Sea Point Rugby Football Club and am privileged to have my horses run in Hammies colours. My other passion is my old school, Dale College, King Williams Town. I have been involved with the school and Dale rugby and I am extremely proud that the little school in the Amatola landed up being ranked 6th in the country. It just goes to prove that through hard work you can reach the stars per Ardua adastra. If SA rugby is looking for talent then get off your….and go see pure talent and class, all achieved with very few facilities and the basics such as proper nutrition. Well done to the Amadoda and SA’s own ALL BLACKS!!! Griffy is the man!

When you have spare time what do you like to do?  Watch the re-run of the races or just chill with mates and family.

If any friend or business associate asked your advice about owning horses what would you say to them?  Run like hell. No, I would advise all who can to get involved. It is a wonderful sport with fantastic people and you can have a lot of fun. There are many disappointments along the way but the upside far outweighs the down side. There are so many different formats of becoming an owner that there are options for all. Remember, in life, we regret more often the things we didn’t do rather than the things we did, so do it.

What has been the most exciting day you have experienced in racing?   When What a Winter won his first Grade 1.

From what you have seen and experienced do you think racing is ‘straight’?  MOST DEFINITELY. It is amazing that if a horse loses then the trainer did this, the owner that and the jockey did this. NONSENSE. Every owner, trainer and jockey wants to win all the time but, hey, things go wrong, people and horses have off days so let it be. It actually annoys me when people start that crap. When the horses win I don’t see many people saying ‘thank you’ to the trainer, owner or jockey but if the horse loses then people want heads to roll. It’s nonsense. If you can’t handle losing don’t play the game.

The saying is “Behind every successful man is an equally successful woman”. Does this apply to Bryn Ressell? ABSOLUTELY, without a shadow of doubt. Probably a lot more successful than I am or ever will ever be.

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