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Candice Robinson

Candice Robinson

CANDICE ROBINSON, the daughter of legendary Cape trainer Mike Bass has been involved with horses from the time she could crawl. It stands to reason that her knowledge of the thoroughbred is vast. Despite the fact that she now has a son, Nicholas, this has not stopped her from going to the stables every day. She has become a familiar figure, or should we say, face on Tellytrack when interviewed about the stables runners. She is a very good judge of a horse and when she expresses confidence in one of her horses, she is seldom far off the mark. She has stated that honesty is one of the main attributes of any trainer or jockey and this is refreshing to know. In the upcoming Vodacom Durban July there is the likely prospect of the stable having two runners in the race and Candice feels that they must be taken very seriously. The Bass yard have two runners in this Friday night’s Post Merchants and Candice feels that CAPTAIN’S SECRET is the better of the pair.

What is your name and age? Candice Leigh Robinson and I am 37 years old.

What is your star sign and birthdate? Leo, 09/08/1974.

Where were you born?  Cape Town.

Where do you live? West Beach, Blouberg.

Tell us about your family? I am married to Connell. We have a son named Nicholas aged 4 years and 6 months.

Do you have a ‘nickname’? I have a few – Floss or Candy.

Favourite food?  Tomato bredie.

Favourite drink? A good glass of wine.

Favourite music? Various, I enjoy most kinds except reggae.

Favourite sport? I enjoy all sport, but to play would be hockey, to watch athletics.

Favourite soccer team? Not really a soccer fan so I don’t have a favourite team.

Favourite holiday destination? In Europe – France, Italy and Holland.

Where did you go to school and did you enjoy it? Rustenburg Girls and yes I did enjoy it.

What were your favourite subjects? Geography, Biology and Home Economics.

Did you do any post-matric studies and if so, where did you study? I did a typing course.

What were your main interests outside of racing whilst growing up? I played a lot of sport at which I excelled at school, especially, high jump, hockey and also horse riding, not racing, of which I still do a fair amount of competitive riding, dressage and showing.

You have been heavily involved in all things connected to racing and training since you were 5 years old. Do you still regularly learn something new about looking after horses these days? I think there are always new things to learn, but I feel I have a fairly solid foundation when it comes to understanding horses and their needs.

Soon after you finished school you worked in sales for about 7 years. You then joined the stable on a full-time basis. Have you ever wondered what your life would have been like doing something other than working with horses?  Not really, as I had the opportunity to experience that. I do enjoy interior decorating so perhaps would have explored those opportunities. One thing I do find very interesting and had I not been involved with horses, I could go back to study medicine.

Your son, Nicholas, is now about 5 years old. Does he love horses as much as you and how often does he come to the stables? He is 4 years and 6 months old and he comes to the stables with me every morning before I drop him at school and then back here in the afternoon. He has pretty much grown up with horses but doesn’t really show a keen interest. He prefers ducks and chickens.

You father Mike Bass is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to horses. Does he teach Nicholas about horses and tell him stories? He tells him a lot but not really about horses. My father is a keen animal lover and could tell you about most animals so they discuss birds a lot and there is not much they don’t know about them I can learn a thing or two from Nicholas about birds!

You have obviously learnt everything you know about horses from your legendary father. How tough was he on you in the early years? My father has never been a tough person. He is actually a very soft person and has never forced anything on me. I have learnt a lot from him over the years and he is always willing to pass on information, especially when looking at yearlings at the sales.

Does he still offer you advice on a daily basis? Yes!

The great Pocket Power had a huge influence on all of your lives. Tell us about the many years you’ll enjoy with him?  Well, what can I say? He was a once in a lifetime horse that was a part of our lives for a good few years. It made racing over that time so exciting and rewarding and it was a privilege to have him in our yard. We certainly do feel the void now that he has gone but we will never forget all those special moments and highs.

What has it been like in the stables without his presence? You tend to move on as we all do in life and cannot dwell on the fact that he is no longer here. Things are definitely quieter-pretty much like they were before Pocket came along!

Have you spotted any younger horses in the yard that could come remotely close to replacing him?  No, not at this stage I think one would struggle to find another Pocket but then we all live in hope.

The stable have CAPTAIN’S SECRET and MONSIEUR DUPONT running in the Post Merchants this Friday night. How well have they been working and what chance do you give them in the race?  CAPTAIN’S SECRET has been a really honest horse and has done really well. He is getting on a little now and probably isn’t as sound as he used to be. He is working well and always has a chance. MONSIEUR DUPONT is a small little horse that has done really well in the handicaps. He has surprised us at times. He is drawn wide which is never a plus factor at Greyville so may have a tough task.

Is it safe to say that CHESALON is your big July hopeful? His two runs in KZN have been impressive. How is he doing and will his next race be the July? Have you earmarked a jockey to ride him and how do you rate his chances in the race? He is doing well and his 2 prep runs have been very good. He will be a live runner in the July especially as the field is quite open this year. He has a good turn of foot so will be suited to the Greyville track. ENGLISH GARDEN had a very good prep run in the Cup Trial, last Saturday and he took his run very well. He finished 3rd in this race last year. We have not confirmed jockeys yet but depending on ENGLISH GARDEN’s weight we will probably use Bernard on one and Karl on the other but nothing is confirmed yet.

HAMMIE’S HOOKER has now won 5 in a row and looks like one of the country’s best juvenile fillies. How highly does the stable rate her and will we be seeing her in KZN before the end of the Champions Season?  We rate her very highly and we think her last win was particularly impressive at the weights over the distance. We have not decided if we will send her to Natal for the end of the season but the probability of her staying here and coming out for the summer season is fairly strong.

CASTLETHORPE was a bit disappointing in the Golden Horse Casino Sprint. What do you think is his best trip and will he take his place in the Vodacom Durban July? He had the worst of the draws in the Golden Horse Casino Sprint, so didn’t run too badly under the circumstances, Karl felt he would have finished closer had he been drawn inside. He ran a cracker on Saturday and has come out of his run well. It all depends on what they do with him for the July, if he gets in he may well take his chances there, if not he will probably run in the Mercury Sprint or the Champions Cup. I think he is quite a versatile horse when it comes to distance.

Your top sprinter, WHAT A WINTER has been slightly disappointing recently but has his issues. What are his issues and do you’ll expect him to ever get back to his best? He hasn’t been that disappointing. He was beaten a head by Val De Ra in the Cape Flying championship and then ran a creditable 3rd in the Computaform sprint after a break and no comeback run. His run at Scottsville was a disappointing one and we have no real explanation for that. He did, however, have 2 swollen eyes the next day from mud clods so whether or not that affected him or it was just the Scottsville track we are not sure. He is also still a colt and has had a few problems with him haemo concentrating but we have to just try and manage it. He pulled up fine after his last run in the Gold Challenge. I don’t think he has been at his best his last two runs so will have to go back to the drawing board with him. His next run will be the Mercury Sprint.

Which of your younger horses do you think are worth following in the upcoming Cape season? ABERCROMBIE is a very nice up and coming Trippi colt, along with PATERFAMILIAS, also by Trippi. TEVEZ (Val De Ra’s half brother) also won his maiden very impressively and then we have another 2 unraced colts that we feel are nice-a half-brother to EBONY FLYER by Captain Al and a Western Winter colt.

How many horses does the stable have right now? About 130.

Your dad purchased some really expensive horses at the Cape Premier Yearling Sale and at the National Yearling Sale. Who were your main buyers and how many horses did you buy at the sales? Our main buyers are Marsh Shirtliff, Bryn Ressell and Markus Jooste who are always in partnership in all the horses they buy.

What is the procedure with babies after the sales. Do most go to spelling farms and then come to the yard or do most come straight to the stables? They all go to spelling farms and only start coming into the yard from September onwards after they have been broken in.

Karl Neisius and Bernard Fayd’herbe ride the majority of your horses. Do you’ll have a stable jockey and who does the majority of the work riding? Bernard and Karl have the pick of most of the rides. We also use Aldo Domeyer, Christopher Puller, Grant Van Niekerk and Gareth Wright. Most of them are here riding work every day along with the apprentices. Belinda Haytread rides a lot of our work and we really are extremely lucky to have her.  Bernard is in Natal most of the time working our string there.

You and Justin Snaith have been friends for a very long time. As a great friend of his, do you feel a part of the great success he is having?  Yes, we have been friends for a long time and it is great to see him succeeding.

Previously you said that your husband is not all that keen on racing. Has his interest grown in the time you guys have been married?  He follows the yard and attends the big race meetings but he is not involved on a day-to-day basis and only really follows our stable’s doings. He loves his golf and is the manager at Audi N1 city so he is kept busy with his business.

Do you own any horses in partnership with your husband or family members? No, only my own personal horse which I compete on.

Generally speaking what are the changes you would like to see in South African racing as soon as possible? I think we need to try and attract more outside people to racing and there should also be an increase in our stakes. There are so many things that needs to be improved, including our training tracks etc. I could go on forever but the bottom line is money I suppose!

Do you ever have a punt on a horse and if so, what is your favourite way to punt horses? I am not a big gambler at all, but I like to take a small pick 6.

It is obvious from your interviews about your stables horses that your knowledge is vast on all aspects of racing. Do you have many people approaching you for advice about buying and racing horses? I have the odd people asking me but not that many, mostly our existing clients.

Which is your early July fancy? I feel JACKSON is a big runner despite the big weight as the field is not strong this year. He looks to be a really special horse but has a big task at the weights. I must go with my own 2 horses for outside chances.

Have you ever attended any ‘big’ races around the world? If so, how would you compare the atmosphere to the July? Not any big races no. I still think the Met gives any race meeting a run for their money.

What is your favourite raceday to attend in South Africa? The Queen’s Plate and Met.

Which of your horses will be worth following for the latter part of the KZN season? Hard to say as we don’t have too much in Durban this year.

How much interest do you have in the breeding side of the game? Racing takes up a lot of my time but do enjoy the breeding side.

Do you ever visit stud farms to see the stallions and look at the ‘babies’ before they come up for sale? Yes, I do.

Outside of racing what else are you passionate about?  My riding. I love riding and although it is still horses it is horses away from racing and the mental stress. I have a very competitive nature and like to succeed at what I do. I have recently bought myself a warm blood for dressage and showing and hope to produce him to do well.

If you had any advice for your fellow associates in the racing game what would it be? Racing is a long game. It doesn’t help to take short cuts and one thing I have learnt in racing is that honesty is the best policy and it will get you far. We take pride in being very hard workers. I always take a feather out of my father’s cap in that he never misses a day’s work after all these years and is very much hands-on all the time. There is no other way. It is not the easiest of industry’s and can be very pressurized but we need to take the good with the bad. Horses are not machines unfortunately!

Do you think enough is being done to keep racing ‘straight’?  I think it’s a very hard thing to try and monitor strictly. I do however think that the stipendiary stewards are not strict enough with rough/dangerous riding and jockeys get away with murder.

What do you think could be done to create excitement and enthusiasm for the game by the public? For me going to the races is part of my job, but if I was an outsider coming to enjoy racing for the day I certainly wouldn’t be champing at the bit to come to our racecourses and the facilities they offer. I think they could do a lot more upgrading and make the racecourse somewhere for people to want to go to!

Could you nominate one particular moment in your racing life which stands out above all others? Pocket Power winning his 4th Queen’s Plate in a row and his 3rd Met, amazing!!

What is your opinion on the NHA’s decision to stop betting operators from sponsoring trainers? I think it’s a little harsh seeing as the whole racing industry is based on gambling and betting so I don’t see the reason why they should not be able to advertise through the trainers, can understand a jockey not being able to have them as a sponsor.









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