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Louis Goosen

louis goosen

Louis Goosen

Since returning from a three year break from training to build up his IT business Louis Goosen has been having great success.  With only a small string he is getting a steady number of winners and most of them are well supported in the betting. He has a number of really promising sorts mainly Waywest Goddess and Variometer and they may be followed with confidence. By his own admission he has learnt a lot from people like late Buddy Maroun, Mike de Kock, Piere Strydom his late dad and he is now putting all this knowledge to great effect. There is no doubt that the Goosen stable is one to follow.

What is your name and age? Louis Goosen, 50 years young.

Where do you live? Three Rivers, Vereeniging.

Tell us about your family? I live with my fiancé’ Lauren Watt who is an amazing person. She shares my passion for horses and is an excellent horsewoman too. My son Christopher (23) is a young, budding entrepreneur. He loves racing, as he was born into it.

How did you become interested in horse racing? I was born into a racing family. My late Dad, Danie, was a successful jockey until his weight got to him. He then went on to become a multiple champion trainer in the Eastern Cape.

Who were the people in racing who had the biggest influence on you in your decision to make racing your career? My upbringing- It was my dream since I was old enough to walk and finally, the urgings of Piere Strydom.

Before making your career in racing were you ever involved in any other businesses? Yes. In my youth, I was told in no uncertain terms that I was not allowed to become a trainer until I had another job or trade, first. I did some time as an apprentice electrician and did really well when I moved into sales. To this day, I can sell you ice in winter. Selling myself, though, I find difficult.

When did you first become an assistant trainer? My upbringing in a brilliantly run racing yard started it. I “officially” became an assistant trainer after the late, great, Chief Stipe, Frank Mc Grath, who knew me since my childhood, insisted that I do some time before applying for my license.

Who did you first work for? I spent 2 years with Chris Erasmus, at Newmarket.

Which was the best horse you worked with in the early part of your career? Deliberation, who won the Grade 2 Protea Stakes, for myself and Lindsay Dollery.

Which trainers were you really friendly with when you got into the game? Buddy Maroun.

Which do you consider to be the best horse you have trained to date? Deliberation (early days in merit rating- He was “killed” at the weights- sold to Mauritius). Capture The Gold – The fastest filly ever! Waywest Goddess- Her best is yet to come.

Do you think there has been a defining moment in your career which has really made a big difference to your life? Yes. The period of time when I stopped training for 3 years, to build my other business. The whole approach since returning, is the defining period, as such.

For a time you worked for the late Buddy Maroun. He was almost a legend when it came to training sprinters. Did you learn much from him that you did not already know and did he train sprinters differently to most other trainers? Like my late Dad, he could look “into” a horse, rather than “at” a horse. On sprinters, yes, there is a rather different way to train a 1000m horse and a 1200m horse. A man of few words, we developed our own “language”. These were one or two words which described a horse’s behavior or action or manners etc. One or two words from Buds and I could write an article! What an absolute horseman, what a privilege!

You have your own security company. How easy it is to fit in running a company completely different from racing to training horses? The company is small in numbers, but has grown into a countrywide company. Our footprint also extends through Botswana, Kenya, and Tanzania. I only spend time there from 11am to 3pm daily. I am slightly hyperactive and enjoy staying busy, so many new developments are planned for LGRS, should the current buyout of the company materialise.

Your brother-in-law and great friend is the mighty Piere Strydom.  How tempted are you to put him on a lot more of your horses than you do? Striker is the greatest of all time in my books. I wish him well, on the lesser fancied Club rides in Hong Kong.

Piere has the reputation for being a great judge of a horse’s ability. Have you found this to be the case? No doubt. Often his honesty is interpreted as negativity, when he calls a spade a spade. And I have learned, as a trainer, to listen when he speaks. He is so good at picking up “niggles” long before they become “problems” with a horse.

Who is your stable jockey and how important to your yard is a stable jockey? Deon Sampson is our stable jockey and he plays a very important role in our stable. Deon is a close friend and fantastic team player. Thank heavens he is so under rated……..

Do you like to tell a jockey how to ride your horse in a race and do you let him ‘ride him as he finds him’? Just the basics about the horse. Plan B,C,D and E are for the jock to work out during the running of the race.

Your father, the late Danie Goosen, was a top trainer in both PE and up on the Rand. What lasting impression about racing and training did he leave you with? Superb horseman. Impeccable stable management. The horse is your “prisoner” as such. He has no say – treat him with kindness. Feed him before you feed yourself. Care for him, always, with the very best of everything available.

Who is the team which assists you in keeping the yard going at such a phenomenal rate? We are “top heavy”, as a small yard. This, more than anything, keeps us competing at fairly high levels. The “culprits” are – Vic Moore, Lauren Watt, Sam Menerha and Deon Sampson, who all have to put up with my eccentricities.

How many horses do you have in your yard right now? 25.

What would you consider to be an ideal number of horses in your yard? 40.

Which do you consider to be the best horse you have in your stable right now? Waywest Goddess.

Which of your horses do you feel would be worth following over the next couple of months? Variometer, Jolly Poppins and Candy Cotton.

As a keen follower of the game which horses  would you advise racegoers and punters to follow over the next couple of months both on the Rand and in KZN? My yard in winter, at Vaal. Watch betting.

In recent times you appear to have come into your own as a trainer. Are you doing anything differently or is it just an accumulation of experience coming to the fore? 1. The very best of everything for the horses.  2.  Owners who allow me the choice in the horses, at Sales.  3. Owners who celebrate every win, whether it’s their own horse or not.  4. Owners who believe in me 100%.  5.  An excellent team!  (Not necessarily in the above order).

What does your working day consist of? After track it’s all about details – lots of details. Spreadsheets, planning, telephone calls, study, research – The same as any normal, competitive trainer.

Has the success of Mike de Kock, in particular, and other SA trainers and jockeys overseas inspired you in any way and do you have any interest in taking a string to race in Dubai for instance? Mike is the very best in the world. I would send my horse, should it be good enough, straight to Mike. I would then fly over to Dubai and irritate him with questions……  For the record, part of Mike’s greatness lies in the fact that he has always been open and honest, when I have asked him for advice. He first advised me, brilliantly, in 1996 on a matter of stable management.

At this stage of your career what are your main ambitions? 1. To get 40 horses. This is not easy, as we do not keep any horses just to fill boxes and collect training fees and we are strict about timeous payment. 2. To vastly revamp the yard’s facilities. 3. To remain competitive in Feature Races and to win my first Grade 1!

What is it about racing that makes you passionate about the game? The equine athlete, in full cry, at full stretch, giving you his or her very best.

How keen are you on the breeding side of horse racing? Not interested at all.

Do you like to study pedigrees? Only certain parts of pedigrees. More often than not, the “good pedigree” is the science or product of hindsight and then it’s too expensive. We don’t like to pay more than R200K for our top lots, so horsemanship and my eye rules over pedigrees, at sales, with our budget. But, to be honest, I rely on Paulo Do Carmo and Eric Joell, as far as pedigrees go. They advise me, whenever necessary. They do the homework.

Which are your favourite stallions? Silvano. Captain Al. Var.

Do you have a favourite racecourse in SA? Vaal, Scottsville.

Do you ever advise friends or family to have a punt on a horse you really like? Sometimes. With a small yard, we have a good punt, about 4 or 5 times a year.  The strike rate is very high, that way.

Which personalities in racing have had a big influence on your career and on your life? In racing – My late Dad, Piere Strydom, the late Buddy Maroun and Mike de Kock. In life – Lindsay Dollery.

What is your preferred way to celebrate a big win? Lots of people, lots of noise, laughter, brandy and Tab (imagine what I would look like on brandy and Coke).

If you have to name the most important lesson you have learnt about racing thus far what would you say that is? Keep thinking; keep “upping your game”. There’s no place for lazy. Rather fail, than not try. Learn to lose so that you appreciate every success.

How do you like to spend your free time? Deep sea fishing in Mozambique. I work 7 days a week, for 8 weeks in a row and then I disappear for a long weekend, from which I return mentally refreshed and physically battered.

How keen are the rest of your family on racing? My fiancé Lauren and my son Christopher both love racing. My sister, Beaty, will always be in racing.

Apart from racing what else are you passionate about? As I mentioned- deep sea fishing. The real passion is being out, in the middle of the ocean, about 10 to 15 kms from dry land, on a jet ski, fighting a gamefish on a 15kg line, all on your own, one on one! I love rugby and am a staunch Blue Bull fan of some 30 years. This Super Rugby season will be tough for us. I also love Moto GP and am a big fan of Valentino Rossi, who is the greatest rider of all time. Ultimately, though, the fishing, rugby and Moto GP are nothing compared to horseracing. If you could not be a trainer what else would you like to do with your life?  Go fishing and when the wind blows- watch racing, rugby and Moto GP.

How much time do you spend studying form in order to give you an edge on your rival trainers? Not enough. But then, that guru, Matthew Lips is only a phone call away…….

What are the physical characteristics you look for in the horse? Power and balance, low risk in legs.

Generally speaking how much time will you give a horse before deciding if it is worthwhile keeping? Not much. Sometimes though, there are reasons to allow some poor runs with a horse. This is the exception. Owners are not ATM’s just because they own a horse or horses.

You have been involved in the game for a long time. In all honesty how straight do you think racing is? Very straight. The little men are all fierce competitors and thus, quite egotistical. They wouldn’t miss a TV interview for the world!

Do you have any pet hates in racing? Besides bad losers, the accolade must go to those who insist on diluting the local product through the invasion of our lives by turnover driven screening of chariot racing and other nondescript and impersonal race meetings from abroad. The local product has to suffer because of this.

You have the reputation of being quite outspoken at times. Has this ever got you into trouble with the powers that be and if so what is your attitude to this? Yes, I have been in hot water a few times. I like to think, though, that overall the powers that be have listened and have acted. I have never represented myself or taken up any issue for self-gain, so I think that this is the reason why I receive a hearing most of the time. And yes, there have been times when I have been wrong or have been misinformed. At all times though, racing and its wellbeing is paramount. This magnificent industry is worth fighting for.

What is your philosophy on the racing game? Cherish every winner. Be obsessed with winning!

If you had one piece of advice for your fellow associates in the racing world what would it be? Respect your owners. Don’t keep poor performing horses a day longer than necessary. Be honest. Enjoy the ride, as nothing on earth compares!

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