Vaal resident Kobus Roux holds the distinction of being the first trainer to saddle a winner by Wilgerbosdrift’s well-bred young War Front stallion Fire Away.
The consistent Ascot Stud-bred Fire ‘N Flames is now a stakes-placed winner of two of his seven starts and ran a perfect prep on Saturday for the Gr2 SA Nursery at Turffontein on Champions Day.
Fire ‘N Flames, who races in the interests of Willie de Koker and Isabella Lombard, was amongst 15 entries on Monday for the 2yo feature on Saturday 29 April.
A quietly spoken 53 year old, Kobus Roux was chatting to the Sporting Post on the eve of Friday’s BSA National Yearling Sale. He recalled the events at Nationals just a year ago, when his loyal supporter Willie de Koker handed him the pink slip after the hammer had fallen on a handsome chestnut that he rather fancied.
“What a terrific surprise that was and it has worked out well. He is a lovely horse and we are all very excited about his prospects,” adds the man from Nylstroom who became a teacher just to keep his teacher mother happy.
“You know, when you are 19 years old and, particularly in those days, you did what you were told. So I studied, got my qualification and handed it to my mom. Then I went off into racing. It’s been a long road. Good times and tough times. But that applies to all walks of life. It’s what I love, and even today with just eleven horses here at the Vaal, I’m happy and simply looking to train good winners for good owners,” he adds.
There are no frills about Kobus Roux and that emerges as he explains what he means by ‘good owners’.
“I am here to train horses and make the experience of racing them a rewarding one. I am not going to talk nonsense to owners, and I’d like owners that will treat me the same. That way, we enjoy an honest and open relationship, and stay focussed on making the most of this great game.”
The father of two has some interesting thoughts on marketing and social media, and says that he’d rather do business with somebody who can shake his hand and look him in the eye.
“I don’t have a website. I don’t do Facebook or any other modern day platforms. I answer my phone when I hear it. I am here to train horses and my door is always open to my existing and prospective new owners.”
While many of his old owners have moved on, Kobus points out that the new generation are all associates and referrals of former patrons.
He plans a raid or two on KZN during the season, eyeing the speed raceday at Hollywoodbets Scottsville in early June, and then possibly a feature on Hollywoodbets Durban July day. He tells us that he prefers the old style of leaving his base at 2am.
“We travel down and get there a few hours ahead of the race. The horses don’t even have time to feel the effects of the travel. And then we are back on the road straight after. I can recall right back to Geoff Woodruff’s time of El Picha and the like, that the raids worked well.
The former assistant to Johan van Eck and Cliffie Otto has built himself up slowly after the onslaught of the covid pandemic and loves the Vaal as a training HQ.
“The Vaal has it all. Good tracks, great facilities and it’s a happy place for horses. The only people bad-mouthing the Vaal are the guys moving elsewhere!” he smiles.
Kobus Roux heads to the sale this week hopeful of picking up another Fire ‘N Flames ‘or three’, as he puts it.
Bred by Ascot Stud, Fire ‘N Flames is out of the Silvano mare Silvan Jazz. The two-time winner was runner-up in the Listed Storm Bird Stakes in February behind Sean Tarry’s fairer sex first up winner, American Graffiti.
SA NURSERY (Grade 2)
|4||Amber Rock||M G Azzie/A A Azzie||0|
|8||Cullinan Blue||Brett Crawford||0|
|15||Fire ‘N Flames||Kobus Roux||0|
|1||Gimmeanotherchance||Mike de Kock||0|
|11||Guy Gibson||Roy Magner||0|
|10||Imperial Eagle||Kobus Roux||0|
|12||Jerusalema Rain||Ashley Fortune||0|
|13||Leaving Las Vegas||Tony Peter||0|
|6||Lucky Lad||Sean Tarry||0|
|14||Prince Of Kildare||Billy Ruiters||0|
|5||Pure Predator||Fanie Bronkhorst||0|
|9||Rani Of Kittur||Roy Magner||0|
|2||Ripple Effect||Ashley Fortune||0|
|7||Sandringham Summit||David Nieuwenhuizen||0|
He ran a decent 1,75 length third in a Juvenile Stakes over 1200m at Turffontein last Saturday, giving weight to winner Pure Predator and Johan Janse van Vuuren’s Barbaresco – the latter whispered to be a very decent colt.
Fire Away is a half-brother to Gr1 winner and Gr1 sire Mr Speaker and has 11 lots on offer at the sale later this week.