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Byron Forster

Byron Foster

Byron Forster has all the hallmarks of a future successful trainer.  Having started as a stable hand in the Paul Lafferty yard, he rose to become the stable’s assistant trainer before leaving to take over the running of Mrs Sabine Plattner’s Kwazulu-Natal string.  A successful stint in that job was followed by his current position running the Port Elizabeth branch of Sean Miller’s string, where he looks after leading owners Markus and Ingrid Jooste’s Eastern Cape horses.   He regularly sends out winners in Port Elizabeth and it is only because of the stable allocation policy applicable in PE that Byron is not yet training under his own name, but the day will come.  A hard-working, knowledgeable and dedicated horseman who has already worked for some of the biggest owners in South Africa, Byron is without doubt a star of the future and a man to watch.

 

What is your name and age? Byron Forster and I am 31 yrs old.

What is your star sign and birthdate? Virgo and I was born on the 7th September 1980.

Where were you born? Durban.

Where do you live? Lovemore Heights, Port Elizabeth.

Tell us about your family? I am married to Kelly and we have been married for nearly 2 years now.

Do you have a ‘nickname’? “B”.

Favourite food? I enjoy a good burger.

Favourite drink? A cold Amstel.

Favourite music? David Guetta, Parlotones, Goldfish.

Favourite sport? Cricket, golf, rugby.

Favourite soccer team? Man. United.

What is your favourite holiday destination? Wild Coast. Umngazi River Bungalows is one of my favourites.

How did your interest in horse racing come about? I definitely would say my dad had a huge influence. I was exposed to the game very early through his love of racing. In the early days my dad would often take me to the course. In those days children weren’t allowed on the course and we would watch from the infield with our cooler box. I suppose always having a race card lying around the house and studying form, colours etc. contributed as well.

What was your first job in horse racing? I worked for Paul Lafferty as a stable hand.

You were with Paul Lafferty for 12 years. Which were some of the better horses you were involved with at the time? Also, it must have been a difficult decision to leave Paul after all that time? It was a difficult decision at the time as Paul gave me an opportunity to start off my racing career right out of school. He gave me a great foundation and I owe him a lot for all he did. I got to know him more than just as a boss in those 12 years. However, I felt that at that time in my life I needed a change. In my time with Paul we had some useful horses like SHINING ROCK, QUEEN OF KIWI, PINERO, ELEGANT BLUSH, ORACLE NEWS and GOAT.

What was the most exciting day you experienced while with Paul? Definitely winning the Oaks with Goat. A short head 2nd must be an evening at Laff’s famous wines night!

After leaving Paul Lafferty you joined Plattner Racing. How did this come about and describe your time at the yard? Yogas Govender contacted me asking if I was interested in running the satellite yard in Durban due to some changes that had happened. It was a good experience and the stable is run very professionally. Yogas was a pleasure to work with and you won’t meet a more humble and approachable person in racing.

It has been rumored that the Plattner yard have great training facilities. Tell us about this? Mrs. Plattner is very passionate about her horses and her facilities. In Durban we had the advantage of a treadmill, pool and many paddocks. Cape Town also has a similar set up with 2 wonderful tracks and access to the beach.

What was the best horse you were involved with whilst at Plattner Racing? DANISH SILVER is one of those horses that has a great heart for such a small individual.

You then moved on to join the Markus Jooste set-up in P.E. How did this come about? I received a call from Mr. Jooste one night asking if I was interested in running his PE operation which the late Peter Miller was in the early phases of developing. It came very much out of left field.

It was generally believed that you would now be training for Mr. Markus Jooste in P.E. As it turns out you are the assistant to Sean Miller in P.E. What transpired for this to be the position? Yes. Unfortunately, Phumelela has a box allocation policy which we have to wait on.  It has been frustrating but hopefully it can be resolved in the near future.

How many horses are in your care in PE and mention some of the horses that can be followed with confidence during the season ? We have 32 horses. I would keep an eye on FIGURE EIGHT KNOT and PARCEVAL.

You have now successfully worked in three of South Africa’s nine provinces as an assistant trainer. What are the differences between the provinces and which is your preferred province? All 3 provinces have their pros and cons but Durban would be ideal because of a training set up like Summerveld. For one you have more track options to work your horses on and because it is such a horse friendly environment.

What has been your highest achievement thus far as an assistant trainer? Being offered to run Mr. Jooste’s set up here.

What are your short-term ambitions in horseracing? Firstly to get my licence approved and continue to train winners wherever it may be.

Is becoming a fully-fledged trainer part of your long-term ambition? Definitely.  It was not only the privilege of being offered to work for Mr Jooste that inspired me to make the move to P.E, but also the offer of being a trainer and training in my own name.

Handling a satellite yard is a huge responsibility and a tough job. What gives you the most satisfaction about the job? I think it’s very rewarding when a horse that you have had to put in a little bit of extra effort wins…it just makes those early mornings all the more worthwhile.

Since you started training some great ‘helps’ for trainers have been introduced such as treadmills and more use is being made of swimming pools. How important do you think these things are to enable a trainer to get the most out of a horse? There is definitely a place for all these aids. Every trainer is looking to find that extra length just like any other athlete does in his or her sport. It can be time consuming and not well looked upon by the old school trainers but if it can keep a horse sound and fitter then it can only be valued.

How long does it take you to decide whether a horse has the ability to win or not? It really depends on the individual. Some are poor work horses that shine at races and others are completely the opposite which makes this game so unpredictable.

How difficult is it for you to tell an owner that his horse is not worth keeping? Hopefully easy. Trainers should have some sort of good relationship with the client to express his professional views which will be respected.

Are you involved in acquiring new horses for the stable? If so, what are the qualities you look for in a horse before recommending the horse? Derek Brugman is Mr.Jooste’s racing manager and he is responsible for Mr. Jooste’s horse’s movements around the country. Besides a handful of the young horses we currently have, we get the majority of our horses from stronger centres that are not cutting the grade.

With the cost of keeping a horse in training becoming really tough do you have any ideas on how to keep the costs in check? Overall it is difficult to cut corners in this industry. Having horses owned in partnerships obviously helps but you do cut your profit margin.

The Summerhill Ready-To-Run Sale is doing extremely well. How much of an advantage do you think it is to be able to see the youngsters gallop before buying them? It is a huge benefit as you get to see the horse’s action and what type of horse you could be getting involved in.

It is not easy for any woman to be married to a trainer. How does your wife, Kelly, enjoy being the wife of a trainer? Not coming from a racing background she was a little green initially. She now understands the strains of the game and is always there offering support which is appreciated.

Outside of racing do you have anything else you are passionate about? I enjoy a round of golf and a good braai.

If you had any advice for your fellow associates in the racing game what would it be? You never stop learning in this game so don’t be quick to ignore advice and don’t be scared to put in the hours.

Do you think horseracing is well-policed? I believe so. There are always going to be the few that think racing is fixed but those are the ignorant ones who don’t know the system.

What is your philosophy on the racing game? It is a tough game but I am passionate about my job. Success is always a huge goal for me. Generally racing can still improve in some facets but fortunately there are a lot of people higher up that are striving to keep racing thriving.

What do you think could be done to create excitement into racing to create more enthusiasm for the game by the public? We probably need more Igugu’s to help sell a dream of owning a star. The international jockey day concept seemed to create some sort of vibe so maybe more of those types of invitational days might create something. The younger generation is also a market that should be exploited more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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