A son of an East Cape champion trainer and a lad from Umzimkhulu in the rolling foothills of the Drakensberg.
That’s a unique friendship and a professional partnership that only horseracing could foster.
And the relationship was cemented at Hollywoodbets Scottsville on Wednesday 29 November when the good-looking Captain Of All gelding Ibhele won on debut.
Some guys have all the luck!
Brand new owner Linda Seja laughs at the suggestion when chatting to the Sporting Post earlier this week after the Louis ‘The Goose’ Goosen-trained Ibhele had romped home to win an 800m Maiden Juvenile Plate at the KZN Capital City track midweek meeting.
The speedy colt also banked the R100 000 BSA Maiden Juvenile Winner’s Bonus.
“I really enjoyed the moment. This was very special for me and my family. You must understand that where I come from, nobody even dreams of owning a racehorse. Not even a car mostly,” adds the 43 year old, a successful businessman in the timber industry, and a man who grew up in abject poverty, herding cattle.
“Owning racehorses was always the preserve of people of the stature of the Oppenheimers and Ruperts to me. I have been punting for 25 years and longed to race my own horse. Fortunately, my success in business, and an introduction to Mr Louis Goosen, has made that possible. We clicked the day we met, and he has been a true helping hand in terms of guiding me through the processes. And on Wednesday it all came together!”
Linda tells us that his love for horses was actually spawned early, when, as a young boy, he herded cattle and loved to ride. Judging from his frame, he clearly was never destined to be a jockey, but is relishing the experience of being an owner.
He enjoys karate and points out that soccer is not his game.
A former EFF councillor in the KZN legislature, and a widely respected former EFF Provincial Treasurer, Linda recalled his days in the stands at Turffontein, Clairwood and Flamingo Park as a punter.
“I have always loved racing and punting teaches about life and about being a good loser. That’s why I arrived last Wednesday without the family and no expectations. I was wearing a sweater and sandals. I was expecting to see Ibhele run a good race. But when he won, wow, what a surprise. I was very emotional and was thrilled too, as I put a R1000 on him at 8-1, as a show of support and belief.”
Linda named Ibhele in honour of his family clan symbol. It means ‘bear’, in Zulu,
A pleased as punch Summerveld veteran Louis Goosen takes up the story.
“Mr Seja was referred to me when he asked someone in the game for a good trainer who would look after him as a new owner, and who would guide him through the processes. I was given his number and then called Linda late last year. Just as we were getting to know each other, he was called to travel overseas for a few months. I again picked up the reins and followed up during this year,” adds the Goose.
The Hollywoodbets-sponsored trainer explains that he bought the colt, now named Ibhele, for R80 000 at the BSA KZN Yearling Sale last year.
“Linda named him. The Chetty family got involved and took a share. I am really pleased to have been able to stay in Ibhele, with both of these really chilled and happy owners. He is a very nice youngster, and if he trains on, as we expect him to, then we can look forward to some real fun with him. He will relax and develop now, as we gently and steadily prep him for his next run over 1200m at Hollywoodbets Scottsville on 18 February 2024.”
When asked how he intends celebrating, Linda tells us that he planned to have a braai with his wife Lunathi Mkonde and their family.
Will he be diving in now and buying more horses?
“I didn’t want to hang myself financially. I decided to spend what I can comfortably afford, and Louis (Goosen) agreed that we enjoy Ibhele and see how things go.”
And will he be expecting a follow-up win?
“Don’t forget – I have been a punter for over 20 years! I am not a novice when it comes to the ups and downs of horseracing. We take the good with the bad. But I will certainly dress up a bit next time!” he laughs.
And being a community leader, we asked him how he feels about the future.
“We have to believe in South Africa and improve life for our people. I feel that after the election next year we could be looking at a coalition government, certainly in KZN and nationally. And that gives us a chance to improve the situation.”
And any advice for new owners?
“Find a trainer like Louis Goosen and stay within your budget. The enjoyment of following your horse’s progress and getting involved at the stables is something unique. The win first time out was a real bonus. Thanks to Louis and all of his staff.”