Vaal trainer Barend Botes (54) is preparing to relocate to the Summerveld Training Centre in KwaZulu-Natal.
Botes said that he had met with fellow-trainer and Summerveld manager, Tony Rivalland, to discuss his move and that stables will be allocated to accommodate the 20 horses in his care.
The former jockey, who started his training career in 1994, said that his decision carried the backing of his patrons, who include stable stalwarts Willie Coates and Gerald Kalil, also KZN-based Yaseen Ebrahim.
Botes believes he will be more competitive in KZN and noted: “The thoroughbred population has decreased significantly in recent years and it’s become even harder for small stables to have a say against the big guns. There are fewer horses of good calibre and they invariably end up with the top stables in the training ranks.
“The race programme in KZN includes more low merit rated handicaps, which will suit my horses. There are not enough of these races on the Highveld. They also have the polytrack at Hollywoodbets Greyville, which gives moderate horses a few more opportunities to run, and therefore more earning potential.
Botes said that his pending move was also influenced by personal considerations. “I am getting older and I’d like to be as happy as I can in this next phase of my career. My few remaining family members are all in KZN, and I will be competing against some friends from my riding days, including MJ Odendaal, Garth Puller and Robbie Hill. Then I have a young nephew, JC Botes, who lives in the province and hopes to join the South African Jockey Academy soon. I look forward to helping him.”
Botes, who has been dabbling with pedigrees and his own mating software for several years, said that his future will also include part-time breeding as a feeding ground for his stable.
“The Western Cape is getting stronger as a centre and it’s no longer easy to buy weaker horses from trainers in that centre. In the past I could pick up cheapies for racing on the Highveld, but even for outgoing Maidens, the Cape trainers start around R100,000 these days.
“Many of our remaining breeding operations have become spelling farms for owners who are breeding with their own mares, racing their horses and being competitive. For small trainers and owners, it is near impossible to find a decent horse at the big sales. They get snapped up by the major buyers and only the crumbs are left.”
Botes is influenced by pedigree analyst Byron Rogers. He said that his software for hypothetical matings is the ‘Silver Bullet’ for good nicks, and that it was developed in conjunction with a programmer. In his view, his own is better than Tesio, G1 Goldmine and other programmes used by stallion managers and pedigree gurus.
He explained: “I am not joking or overblowing things. Through years of research into sire and sires of broodmares I have fine-tuned a terrific mating method. The few breeders I have showed it to, share my excitement. I plan to go into foal-sharing and other deals with my own and other mares, using my software, and for this to become a solid foundation from which I can retrieve racing stock.”
Botes is approaching 600 career winners.
His top career runners include England Swings, Gr1 Golden Horseshoe winner Port Of London, Thaba’Nnchu Sun winner, Broken Lullaby, Gr3 Sycamore Sprint winner Tzigane and more recently Captain Dizzy, Ivy League and 2021 Summer Cup-placed Golden Pheasant.