Still The Power Of The Wolf!

Abandons Mauritius in search of Cape's green pastures

Veteran trainer Ricky Maingard saddles longshot Al Muthana in the R2 million L’Ormarins King’s Plate on Saturday.

This will be his first Gr1 runner since returning to the fairest Cape.

Vastly experienced and well-travelled horseman Ricky Maingard has recently set up stables at Milnerton, attracted by better prospects in the ‘Mother City’ as the process of revitalising Cape Racing gathers momentum.

Al Muthana – no slouch but it looks tough (Pic -Chase Liebenberg)

It may be a modest start – just ten horses in total, including six babies, but Maingard is up for giving it a try. “There are five huge stables here, but I see a gap for other trainers too, as it’s all happening in the Cape, now.”

Maingard has a colourful background. Born in Mauritius and exposed to horses as a youngster; an engineer by professional qualification in England; then transferred by an oil company to South Africa before switching into marketing as a motor trade executive for Peugeot, Maingard started dabbling in training racehorses on a neighbour’s expansive plot of land in, then undeveloped, Midrand in 1974.

He proved a natural – early on, doing great work with star fillies, Run For Lily, Rhapsody’s Footstep, Fairy Ring and Dancer’s Choice whilst honing his craft as a deft horseman.

Be they for premier sprints or Graded stayers’ races – Maingard could get horses to peak for big Gr1 occasions – for example winning the 1200m Gilbeys Sprint at Scottsville, 2200m Durban July and 3200m Gold Cup amongst a host of other Feature races.

Ricky Maingard – a familiar face is back! (Pic – Cape Racing)

Still sprightly and with a sparkle in his eye, the quietly spoken, distinguished gentleman has been in the training game for nearly five decades. Old time horseplayers will recall with reverence his exemplary handling of one of South Africa’s legends of the turf way back in the 80’s – the grey, course- record- setting champion, Wolf Power.

After leaving SA, Maingard went back to his roots in 2007 to ply his trade on the Indian Ocean Island of Mauritius. He loves the languid lifestyle, had considerable success there winning premier races and was constantly perched at the upper rungs of the training ladder.

Unfortunately, despite a long and proud history dating back to 1812, racing in Mauritius has become beset by troubles and political disputes, leading to Maingard, together with many of his owners, gradually becoming disenchanted.

“Costs were going up and stakes, already poor, were going down. Unfortunately, with all the fighting between the two racing clubs, I’ve decided to move and try out here.” he explained.

He is under no illusions about the rigours of relocating, aware of just how hard it is to attract new patrons to an expensive indulgence in such a tough economy, coupled with the propensity of bigger spending owners to support the “Big Five “ – firmly established, larger yards. “Let’s see how it goes…” he says philosophically of his latest challenge.

  • Mark van Deventer for Cape Racing.

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