Mike de Kock
Mike de Kock is, undoubtedly, South Africa’s most famous horseracing trainer. Not only has he won the South African Trainer’s Title on 8 occasions, he is also considered one of horseracing’s leading international pioneers – travelling the length and breadth of the globe in search of historic winners.
Surprisingly not from a racing background, he attributes his ability to get horse supremely fit to the two years he served in South Africa’s Defence Force’s Equestrian Unit. He then took a chance to learn how to train race horses from Ormond Ferraris, before working as a stable assistant in a variety of yards. De Kock’s big-break into training came when trainer Ricky Howard-Ginsberg’s death left the then 23-year-old with a 50-strong stable of horses, and he duly saddled his first winner a few weeks later in 1988. Amazingly, he won his first group-1 just 4-months later.
He has now trained over 2,500 winners, with nearly 100 of those being group-1s. He has won races in England, Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong – and now regards Dubai as a second home after enjoying huge success there over the last few years.
Tarry is the new-kid on the block of South African Horse Racing, having won his first trainer’s title in 2014 with a record 25,924, 950 Rand of Prize Money. However, that record lasted just one year as he set a new record in 2015 with 27,999,562 Rand of Prize Money – from an amazing 209 winners. His motto is “Striving for equine excellence without limits” and it’s hard to argue with the 48-year-old who describes himself as hardworking, ambitious and progressive. He’s already trained nearly 1,300 winners, 108 of which have been Stakes Winners, and 37 Grade-1 winners, and he currently leads the South African Trainer’s Title as he bids to notch a hat-trick of titles.
S J Snaith
Snaith has an unbelievable knack of churning out winners season-after-season, with his yearly totals for the last 10-years being 110, 130, 148, 136, 149, 160, 198, 194, 183, 192, and 102 and counting. However, his only Trainer’s Title came in 2013 when he managed to win 19,490,725 Rand of Prize Money, as it’s prize-money on which the Trainer’s Title is judged. If it was judged on winners, he would have more than one title, and he’s also been unlucky to have witnessed the emergence of Sean Tarry in recent seasons.
G V Woodruff
Woodruff remains one of the biggest and most respected trainers in South African Racing, and he won trainer’s titles in 2003, 2004 and 2006. However, unlike the younger trainers like Tarry and Snaith, he prefers to concentrate on quality rather than quantity, an ethos which saw him finish second in the 2013 Trainer’s Title with an impressive prize-money haul of 14,557,600 Rand from just 52 winners.
Mr J A Janse van Vuuren
One trainer who has been catching the eye this season is Mr J A Janse van Vuuren, who has an impressive strike-rate of 18%, the highest of all the South African trainers this season, despite only being in 11th position in the trainer’s title.