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Kom’s On His Way Back

Kom is bullish about making a go of it again

Training racehorses is not for the faint of heart. A rollercoaster ride of fast and slow horses, good and bad days, economic challenges, spiralling overheads, pressured owners, labour handcuffs, jockeys. The list is endless.

No wonder there aren’t too many youngsters coming through the ranks, bar the sons and daughters of some established racing families.

Kom Naidoo and his very supportive sister, Roxanne (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

This week we bumped into something of a forgotten man of the racehorse training ranks.

At age 42, Kumaran Naidoo is a textbook case of the inherent dangers and risks of subconsciously believing that a relatively successful racehorse training business built up over 17 years of blood, sweat and tears, is worth anything beyond a few second-hand saddles, when one is man down.

‘Kom’, as the lifetime Hayfields Pietermaritzburg resident is affectionately known, suffered a stroke in January 2023 and was in hospital for eight months.

At his peak, he had 100 horses in his yard. At the time of the health setback, he had 80 horses and was capably assisted by Tessa Rich.

Eleven months later, he woke up and his Summerveld yard was eerily empty. The last Kumaran Naidoo runner was sent out on Christmas Eve 2023.

Radio silence thereafter.

Today, slowly finding his feet, and determined to live his passion in the game that his Dad taught him to love, he has filled two of his boxes with horses acquired from owner Preggie Somasundram, who recently announced a rationalisation of his string.

“Two horses are not going to be gamechangers – but it’s a start and I have a great reason to get up in the morning again and enjoy what I most want to do in life!” adds Kom, as he explains the wake-up call that was his illness.

“Before I got sick, I didn’t realise that I was essentially the business. And I can’t blame any of my owners for moving on as I lay in hospital. Horses have limited careers. They eat while the owner sleeps. They cost money. I was the trainer. I was the personality. I was the reason that they supported Kom Naidoo racing,” he laments as he reflects on something he didn’t worry too much about.

The racing bug bit when Kom worked part-time for Bertie Hayden at the age of 18.

2003 Vodacom Durban July

Bertie Hayden (far right) is seen in this Durban July flashback to 2003 – from left to right, Sherman Brown, Mary Hammond, Andy Hammond

His Dad had horses and was proud that his son was learning from the trainer who is best known as the former stable jockey to the legendary Syd Laird, for whom he rode three Durban July winners, including the great Politician.

Ironically, all those years ago Bertie Hayden was also dealt a bad card when he suffered a stroke and was forced to retire.

Kom landed a position in Selvan Moodley’s yard where he worked with the experienced Steve Lodge, who was Moodley’s assistant at the time.

Later, former top jockey Rhys van Wyk replaced Lodge, and together with the knowledge he had acquired from his three-month stint with stalwart Tony Rivalland, the knowledge thirsty Kom ventured out on his own in 2006, chiefly with the encouragement of his long-time friend and patron, Seelan Chetty.

Ten years ago, Kom saddled the Gr2 Charity Mile winner and Australian bred Royal Zulu Warrior in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and the Met. He saddled 58 winners in his best season.

Royal Zulu Warrior wins Charity Mile

Royal Zulu Warrior wins the Charity Mile in 2013

Today, he makes use of a wheelchair, although he is mobile and can drive, as he does every day from Pietermaritzburg.

“I battle to stand up from low chairs, and my Doctor recommended I utilise my wheelchair in the course of the day. My sister Roxanne has been a pillar of strength and support to me through this ordeal, and I cannot thank her enough for always being there for me. Hollywoodbets also continue to loyally sponsor me, and there are some other exciting possibilities on the horizon, including discussions with some of my former patrons,” he added positively.

The last winner under the Kom Naidoo banner was Teerex at Hollywoodbets Greyville on 8 November 2023.

In an economically challenging post-covid environment, where does trainer Kom Naidoo go from here?

“Life is all about challenges. Starting all over is not necessarily a bad thing. Covid was a gamechanger all over the globe. So I am not alone. I just want to build my string slowly and am so looking forward to training a winner again soon. Until then I am inviting anybody looking for a dedicated and committed trainer to give me a call, or email me. I promise – I won’t be full of nonsense, or too fussy!” he laughs.

 

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14 comments on “Kom’s On His Way Back

  1. Yusuf Fattal says:

    Hope u well mr kom ull get there soon

  2. Dan Maniram says:

    Dear Ed,

    Wishing Kom a speedy recovery and may his resurgence of health continue steadfastly.

  3. Shaun ramkissoon says:

    Everybody deserves a second chance in life,all the luck

  4. Thevan Pillay says:

    Great fight back Kom

  5. Cliff Miller says:

    You will bounce back Kommie it is very hard ask me with no support it is an uphill battle my friend. But you will survive and i wish you all the best and i hope you fill your stables quickly boeta.
    God Speed

  6. Teddy Naidoo says:

    Well done Kom for not giving up your dream in training race horses.
    Be patient God will make a plan for you.
    Owners will support you because you have trained many winners and that is proof in itself.

  7. Hassan Mohammed says:

    Keep going Bro…never give up 🙏

  8. Magesh Naidoo says:

    All the best

  9. Raymond Murray says:

    Stay strong brother.welcome back.
    All will be well .God Blesd

  10. Chris Naidoo says:

    God Bless Kom on his remarkable recovery. This is definitely a second chance. I believe you will get the support to bounce back into the winners enclosure.

  11. Poobie Moodley says:

    · “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou
    All the best keep on keeping it on Kom.
    God bless 🙏

  12. Kesi Govender says:

    Continue your Faith in your ability to train winners as well as in God and your success in your vocation will revisit you abundantly.
    May you continue to recover to the best of health.🙏🙏🙏

  13. Raveen Deeplall says:

    Hi Kumaran, sorry to hear about the stroke you had. I have had a stroke in November 2020. I have recovered significantly since then.Thanks to all my specialists and physiotherapist who treated me . I am eighty percent recovered for the past 12 months. Doctors have told me that the twenty percent will always be there. This could also lead to another severe stroke. As much as I love to return to work, but I cannot I still have numbness , unbalance , double vision, dizzyness and disorientation. Personally I think you should consider your health and dependacy on others , before considering going back to training horses, to Satisfy other people who have good health and wealth.

  14. James Goodman says:

    All the best Kom, horses will arrive

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