Markus Jooste may be best known as CEO of Steinhoff International but with his unbounded enthusiasm, passion and love of the racing game he will surely be as well known to the racing public as he is to the business community. From the time Markus owned National Emblem in the early 90’s up until now his involvement in the game has grown to astounding proportions. From being an owner Markus is now heavily involved in a stud farm, Klavervlei, which stands 10 stallions and about 250 mares. He supports the trainers in every province and has nearly 250 horses in training. Despite the fact that he runs his horse racing business like a business it is still very much a labour of love. With South African racing going through a rough patch Markus Jooste is very much the man who can pull it onto high ground.
What is your name and age? Markus Jooste and am 50 years old.
Where do you live? Irene, Pretoria.
Tell us about your family? Am married to Ingrid and we have 3 children – a son and two daughters.
Are any of your family members involved in racing or particularly interested in racing? My son and daughter enjoy going to the big race meetings such as the Met and the July and my one son will be working at Klavervlei learning about the breeding game.
You are best known for your involvement as CEO of Steinhoff International. You are also involved with a number of other well known companies. How easy, or difficult, is it for you to fit in your very hectic schedule of racing acitivities? I am overseas at least one month a year. When overseas I will attend a big meeting if possible while my staff, at home, make videos of my horses racing in SA. I also have Tellytrack on my cell so I can also watch my horses – time permitting.
When did your interest in horse racing begin and was there any particular person who sparked your interest in the game? Growing up at home racing was always a part of my life as my father was a very keen punter. Every raceday he would go to the Bosman Street Tattersalls and have a few bets. In the early 90’s I was approached by Albert Rapp and Colin Fram to be a partner in a horse called National Emblem. The success of National Emblem then, and now, is probably the cornerstone of my involvement in racing.
Your wife, Ingrid, also seems to be very keen on racing. Was it through you that she became interested or did she always like the racing game? Ingrid was not really interested but she now goes to see our horses run. Ingrid designed the colours our horses wear and they have been really good to us.
Is it fair to say that National Emblem was the first top horse that you owned? National Emblem has been a great success all round. He was a lovely racehorse and he has been a very successful stallion. Just last Saturday one of his progeny Shea Shea won the Golden Horse Casino at Maritzburg.
Since then your participation in the game as owner and now breeder appears to have accelerated sharply. What would you say is the reason for this? I run my operation like I do my business. I make the chain of activity a complete cycle. At Steinhoff we grow the trees, cut the wood, make the furniture and sell the furniture. My racing business is modeled on the same lines.
In your early days as an owner Charles Laird was probably your only trainer. In recent times you have given horses to quite a lot of trainers. Is this so that you can have more horses racing in different provinces? My racing business has grown very big and Charles Laird has decided he would like to live in Durban and scale down on the number of horses he trains. For this reason, and to support the industry, I have decided to give more trainers horses to train. My holiday home is in the Cape so I, obviously, like to have horses in the Cape and for the rest I will spread my horses around.
You have now bought a lot of really well bred expensive horses in Australia. Was this done with an eye to building up your stud Klavervlei? I had a 4 year plan to buy stock in Australia in order to improve the blood of mares and to have good racing stock. It was a very expensive exercise but I feel it has been a success.
How many mares and how many stallions do you now run at Klavervlei? All in all there are about 1000 horses at Klavervlei. There are 10 resident stallions and a lot of mares. John Koster, who is a partner at Klavervlei, bred Captain Al who was a great racehorse and is now a very successful stallion.
At this stage how difficult do you think it is to make a profit from breeding horses? No one should ever go into racing to make a profit. We breed our horses to sell and the more successful they are the more chance we have of making a profit.
Is it your intention to race many of the horses you breed especially the fillies? As I said our horses are all for sale. If there are any fillies we would particularly like to breed with we will race them ourselves.
You have now raced many top class racehorses but is there any one of them which you will remember with particular affection? For obvious reasons National Emblem must be mentioned. He was the first horse I owned and still do. He was a great success as a racehorse and now as a stallion. In recent times Bravura has given me exciting moments and Happy Landing was a fairy tale in many ways. Of course there have been many others but I mention those three who stand out right now.
With the July only about a month away which of your horses do you give the most chance? For obvious reasons I think we may all be chasing Igugu home but of mine I am happy that Bravura is coming right at the right time and I have recently given Galileo’s Destiny to Mike de Kock to train.
Which of the stallions you run really take your eye and whose offspring you would like to see in the yards you have horses in? National Emblem is an ongoing success story and Captain Al shown tremendous promise as a stallion.
How many horses do you have racing in your colours at the moment? Between 200 and 250 right now.
You have already had runners in England. How big do you think you would like to be in England? In England my partner is Bernard Kantor and he is the man who is hands on over there. I also have horses with David Payne in Australia and with Patrick Shaw in Singapore.
As a person who appears to be very meticulous about planning his way what are your immediate plans for racing in South Africa? I have made everything very professional and have appointed men I think will be very professional. The late Peter Miller, who I will sadly miss, very much ran my racing business with me and now I have appointed Derek Brugman to do the job. I want to support many trainers and am very excited about the Cape sales which have been a huge success. Of immediate concern is the AHS which must somehow be sorted out. SA is breeding great stock but because of the AHS protocols our breeders, and owners, cannot make the most of this. The sooner this problem can be sorted out the better.
Which horse do you believe is the best you have racing in SA right now? Delago Deluxe.
How do you like to celebrate a big win? A well organized dinner after the big event.
What is it about racing that makes you passionate about the game? I would have to say that I really love most everything about racing. It is a many faceted business and there is lots to be passionate about.
If you have to name the most important lesson you have learnt about racing thus far what would you say that is? Don’t go into racing to make money. Don’t punt as this is the worst way to put pressure on your trainer. Leave it to the trainer – he works with the horses everyday and he knows what is best for the horse.
How do you like to spend your free time, if you have any? I love watching rugby and I could say I have a passion for rugby. My team is the Blue Bulls but I am afraid to say that it doesn’t look as though they will win the Super 15.
Do you ever have time to spend studying form? I get the Sporting Post every week and I do look up the form.
What is your philosophy on the racing game? Love the game. Love the horses and take the wins as well as the defeats.
If you had any advice for your fellow associates in the racing world what would it be? Put aside all the differences. Work together for the good of the game. Have racing under one banner.