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Rikesh Sewgoolam – One World Of Passion

Enjoying a purple patch

Eighteen years after a relatively modest National Emblem gelding sealed his interest in horseracing, Pietermaritzburg-based attorney Rikesh Sewgoolam is enjoying a purple patch.

Leading owner and breeder, and an NHA board member, Rikesh Sewgoolam is enjoying a great run (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

He owns last Saturday’s Cape Of Good Hope Nursery winner One Stripe, bred Sunday’s joint sales-topper, and has some serious runners on Classic Day at Turffontein, and Super Saturday at Meydan.

It’s been a cracking start to 2024 after a very fruitful 2023 for the quietly spoken Rikesh, who was recently nominated for a second three-year stint as a director on the National Horseracing Authority Board.

A practising attorney and qualified CA, the University Of Melbourne and University Of Pietermaritzburg graduate specializes in business rescue, turnarounds and liquidations.

While we are there to discuss his extraordinary run of success on the racetrack and in the sales ring, we could not resist the chance of the icebreaker of asking him whether he had ever regretted getting involved in serving on a board tasked with steering our racing regulator through some turbulent seas, in what has been a testing time for the industry.

“I was originally nominated as the KZN representative on the NHA board by Rodney Trotter, who felt that my professional qualifications and experience, as well as my passion for the sport, would add value. I have honestly never regretted accepting the responsibility. It’s a labour of love and the reality is that the challenges we face in racing are not dissimilar to what I deal with in the course of my daily work. Running away from challenges is not the answer either, as there is always somebody else that would have to step into the breach, anyway,” he reflects.

Born in Pietermaritzburg some 49 years ago, Rikesh was a talented soccer and tennis player and the all-round sportsman was also far too interested in his academics to be distracted by his Dad Ranjith’s love of horseracing.

One Stripe charges clear under Bernard Fayd’herbe in the Sewgoolam silks to win the COCT Gr3 Cape Of Good Hope Nursery (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

“Dad, who is a life member of the NHA and has emigrated to Australia, was mad about horseracing and owned some nice horses from 1988 onwards. I recall Melting, who was one of the few gallopers to lower champion Empress Club’s colours when she won the Firstcorp Sprint under Jeff Lloyd at Turffontein in November 1991. I don’t think my Dad slept for a week! Strangely, despite the enthusiastic racing buzz at home, I had very little interest in the horses as a young man.”

But that all changed in 2006 when Rikesh was persuaded by a colleague to get involved in a National Emblem gelding called Silas Marner.

“Fate struck, as it were. Kom Naidoo trained him and he ran fourth, and then won for us next time out. I was hooked. The bug had bitten. Eighteen years later, I have got the t-shirt, seen the movie, paid the school fees! And reflecting back, there are some things I may have done differently. But I can’t complain. Things are going well.”

That’s frankly an understatement!

A low-key personality, and a man who prefers to spend his down-time over weekends at home with his wife and daughter, Rikesh hasn’t attended a feature race since his first ‘big’ horse Seeking The Stars won the Byerley Turk for Vaughan Marshall at Hollywoodbets Scottsville in 2021.

“I really love the horses, the people and the racing, but find that enjoying the racing at home with the family gives me so much more pleasure than going to the track. Maybe I’m a lazy guy, who needs the weekend to unwind? I’m not sure!” he laughs.

When One Stripe became his sire One World’s maiden stakes winner on clinching the City Of Cape Town Gr3 Cape Nursery under Bernard Fayd’herbe at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth on Saturday, Rikesh’s good friend and former NHA Chairman Ken Truter was on course to represent him.

“Ken has won many Gr1 races and raced One World – so it was a very emotional moment for him. I was moved to hear him say that One World’s exploits on the track, and now in the stallion barn, had rekindled his own passion and love of the game. I appreciate him representing me and am thrilled that I could step back and give him that very special moment to enjoy.”

Flashback to Hollywoodbets Scottsville in 2021 – Rikesh and trainer Vaughan Marshall lead Seeking The Stars in after his Byerley Turk win

On Sunday, Rikesh enjoyed the honour of breeding one of the joint Cape Yearling Sale One World sales-toppers, Godric Gryffindor (#113), who was consigned by Julia Pilbeam’s Soetendal Estate and purchased by the Hollywood Syndicate for R900 000.

The athletic colt is a first foal for Rikesh’s Master Of My Fate daughter Preferential, a six time winning three-parts sister to the stakes placed Berlinetta. She is one of only two mares that he owns.

Rikesh bred the beautiful join sales-topper by One World (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

“He was a lovely colt and the intention was that we would buy him back if we didn’t get our valuation. But when he went higher, I decided it was time to let him go. I am not sure we should have let him go, but discipline and setting boundaries is important in everything we do in life. I wish the Hollywood Syndicate every success and I sincerely hope he wins many Gr1’s for them.”

This coming Saturday, he has two runners in the TAB Gr1 SA Classic at Turffontein.

“I bought a share in Sandringham Summit, who will eventually stand at Varsfontein and Laurence Wernars and I are partners in the very progressive Barbaresco. So, it’s an exciting race for me!”

Rikesh also has a runner on Super Saturday at Meydan.

The Argentinian-bred Athan is trained by Fawzi Nass and is likely to line up in the AED800 000 Listed Jumeirah Classic over 1800m.

“Laurence and myself race Athan with trainer Fawzi Naas under the Gulf Racing Club banner. He has really smart form since winning his maiden back in June 2023. We have to beat Godolphin’s Legend Of Time, who has had our measure in the past. But it’s an honour to be competing in Dubai on such an auspicious raceday.”

We asked Rikesh to compare the financial dynamics of racing in South Africa versus Dubai.

“It’s very difficult to say that A is better than B. It’s all relative at the end of the day. What I can say, is that it’s great racing anywhere, when one’s horses are winning!”

So, after so many years, what is his secret to racing horses successfully?

“Somebody said over the weekend that there are no experts in racing. That’s so true. I think I have been lucky in recent years and have also found my own balance and a structure that works for me. I have one trainer in each province where I race. Vaughan Marshall is my Cape trainer, and a true friend. I don’t think I could find a more loyal man anywhere. Alyson and Kevin Wright train my KZN string, while Johan Janse van Vuuren is my trainer on the Highveld. I could not be happier with my aforementioned three trainers and look forward to a long and successful relationship with them.”

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2 comments on “Rikesh Sewgoolam – One World Of Passion

  1. Elvis Munsami says:

    Amazing achievement in the sport of kings. God richest blessings upon your success in a very competitive sport that is dominated by Big stables n Big owners. All da best brother.I am Racing since 1979 as a punter seen some top horses in my time. Make it happen 🐎🐎🐎

  2. Chris Wiles says:

    A really humble and loyal supporter of the game who has contributed so much to the sport and is currently reaping the benefit of his wise investments. We looking forward to your champions running on your home soil, Scottsville, for the Winter Season. God bless you in abundance

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