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Knut Haug

Knut Haug

Knut Haug

It would be fair to say that KNUT HAUG has been involved in racing, one way or another, for most of his life. His father owned horses in the days when Tiger Wright was a trainer and Knut began riding in Gymkhanas when he was 10 years old. Knut won his first Group 1 as an owner in 1994 with Comareen, and since then he has won another 4. While being heavily involved in racing, Knut has built up a successful iron and steel business, Tugela Steel.  His son has attained an honours degree in engineering and has joined him in the business. Knut is ensuring that he is keeping his business and social aspects of his life well-balanced. Right now his racing life is very exciting as he owns the top filly and recent SA Classic winner BAMBINA STRIPES, who contests this Saturday’s Woolavington 2000 at Greyville. The daughter of Equal Stripes dislodged her jockey in her last outing in the KRA Guineas and Knut as well as the in-form Drier yard will be hoping for a change in fortunes this time around. WINNING FORM will be following the filly with keen interest.    

What is your name and age? Knut Haug and I am 58 years old.

What is your star sign and birthdate? Capricorn and I was born on 29 December 1953

Where were you born? Tonsberg in Norway.

Where do you live? Mount Edgecombe in KZN.

Tell us about your family? I’m married to Daniela and have two sons, Bjorn 24 years old and Kristian 13 years old.

Do you have a ‘nickname’? No.

Favourite food? Seafood.

Favourite drink? Fruit juice.

Favourite music? Bob Dylan.

Favourite sport? Horse racing.

What car do you drive? Toyota Land Cruiser.

What is your favourite soccer team? I don’t have one.

What is your favourite holiday destination? Italy and Norway.

How long have you been living in South Africa? Since I was 3 years old, so 55 years.

You have built up a wonderful business in the steel industry. You founded your company, Tugela Steel, in the early eighties. What is the main business of your company? Manufacture and erection of portal frame steel structures.

What size was your business when you founded it? The business was started from scratch.

How quickly did the business grow and who were the people involved with you then? The business took some time to grow as people are always reluctant to give you work when you are unknown.

How many people do you currently employ? Approximately 60 people.

Does your business import and export? We import together with Macsteel with whom we have had a relationship with for over 30 years. Our export side of the business is mainly into Africa.

Are any of your family members involved in the business with you? My son Bjorn joined me at the beginning of 2011 after completing an honours degree in engineering.

What is your business philosophy? Integrity, integrity and integrity!

How do you manage your time between business and your horse racing interests? I spend about an hour every day going through the noms, checking on which horses are running and liaising with Dennis.

How did you become involved in horse racing and when did you get your colours? I started riding in Gymkhanas when I was 10 years old so I guess that is when the bug bit and I have always been fascinated with horse racing. I recall bunking out of boarding school at Estcourt High on some Saturdays and going to the races at Scottsville with the local tea room owners. On one of those days I recall Muis Roberts riding his first winner. My first colours was sometime in the nineties. I have recently changed my colours to the Norwegian flag.

Who was your first trainer? Our family’s first trainer was Tiger Wright with a horse called Fofo. I recall arriving at Greyville with my father and brother when I was about 14 where Tiger promptly told my dad, who was not a punter, to put everything he owned on Fofo. The horse duly won with George Davies in the irons. Fofo was eventually exported to Mauritius where he became the champion of the island.

Tell us about your first big winner? Comareen, bred by Summerhill Stud who won the Group 1 Cape Derby, in 1994. It’s a day I will never forget.

You have teamed up with trainer Dennis Drier to form a formidable combination. Is Dennis the only trainer you currently have horses with? Yes.

How many horses do you have right now? 26, together with the unraced 2 year olds and yearlings.

You own a very exciting prospect in the filly BAMBINA STRIPES. How did it come about that you acquired her? I purchased her from Abolengo in Argentina. In Argentina it is very difficult to buy fillies because they normally keep the well-bred ones to race themselves. I only managed to buy her because her sire, Equal Stripes didn’t have many runners at that stage. Six months later, on Argentina’s equivalent of Breeder’s Cup day, Equal Stripes’ juveniles won both the colts and the fillies Group 1 races over 1600m. After such success I doubt she would have been for sale as she has an unbelievable pedigree. She has 7 group 1 winners close up in her pedigree.

Unfortunately, she clipped heels and dislodged her jockey in the running of the KRA Fillies Guineas at Greyville in early May, where she would have had an outstanding chance. Fortunately, her jockey escaped any serious injury. How is she doing since? Fortunately, she is 100%.

Is she still on track to contest the Woolavington 2000? Yes, and we have booked Kevin Shea to ride her.

Did she show the stable that she is exceptional right from the onset? She always showed Dennis that she had ability, but it was only while she was in Cape Town that Dennis said to me that we might have a racehorse on our hands.

Is she your best horse racing at the moment? Yes.

To date which do you rate as the best horse you have ever owned? BAMBINA STRIPES, but I also had a share in Private Reserve who was unbeaten. She only raced 4 times and won two Group 1’s and a Group 3 and was champion 2 year old filly in 1999.

How many winners have you had as an owner? Between 50 to 60.

How many Graded winners have you had? I have won five Group 1’s and a Group 3.

The KZN Winter season is in full swing. Which of your horses, apart from BAMBINA STRIPES, do you feel could be involved in any of the feature events to come? Sue for Peace.

Do you have any exciting juveniles that should be watched over the winter season? No, because I don’t buy early type horses.

Do you have a punt on your horses when you believe it has a really good winning chance? Occasionally.

Do you find that your racing interests are a good way to relieve the stress of big business? No, I find racing much more stressful.

On a personal note do you think there is any way a big owner can break square on the training costs in the long run? Only if you are lucky enough to crack a ‘Big’ horse.

Do you have a racing manager or do you handle all the racing business on your own? No, because I like to be involved with my horses.

How involved are members of your family in horse racing? They are not involved at all.

As an owner you probably watch racing very keenly especially when one of your horses are racing. From the outside looking in do you think racing is ‘straight’? When there is money involved the alarm bells will always ring, but I believe racing is much more controlled than in days gone by.

Last, but certainly not least. The saying is that “Behind every great man is an accomplished and great woman.” Does that apply to you? Most certainly, my wife Daniela has had a huge influence over the years.

 

 

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