Pas­sion for rac­ing de­vel­oped in young days

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YOGAS Goven­der started his rac­ing ca­reer in 2001, join­ing Glen Kotzen in Cape Town as a sta­ble em­ployee. He tried of­fice work for a while, but the rac­ing bug would not let go.

He talked his way into a sta­ble em­ployee job (by of­fer­ing to work for free) and spent four years ab­sorb­ing ev­ery­thing he could.

He then spent six months in the US with Michael Dick­in­son.

From that point on­wards, Goven­der has blos­somed into one of the top train­ers.

He was with Kotzen for five years, dur­ing which time he was awarded his as­sis­tant trainer’s li­cence.

He then left and joined Dick­in­son in Mary­land to gain fur­ther ex­pe­ri­ence.

On his re­turn, Goven­der joined Brett Craw­ford as an as­sis­tant trainer in Cape Town from 2006 to 2009.

He later be­came an in­terim trainer at Plat­tner Rac­ing for three months.

“I con­tin­ued in the in­dus­try with Plat­tner Rac­ing for about five years. We en­joyed a very suc­cess­ful pe­riod, hav­ing won close to 350 races in­clud­ing groups 1,2,3 and listed races and nu­mer­ous other group plac­ings.

“In 2015, I made the bold step to go on my own as a trainer and am en­joy­ing it,” said Goven­der, who added that race­horse train­ing was an ex­tremely dif­fi­cult in­dus­try and one’s suc­cess was de­ter­mined by the clien­tele, to­gether with the sup­port from within the in­dus­try.

He is al­most uni­ver­sally well liked and was prob­a­bly summed up best on the podium of the 2013 J&B Met when Stan El­ley called him “one of the nicest peo­ple in rac­ing”.

Goven­der’s fa­ther was a keen race-goer and the young boy de­vel­oped a pas­sion for rac­ing in his young days.

He recorded the big races of his child­hood on video and watched them reg­u­larly.

Goven­der was an avid fan of Bush Tele­graph and was work­ing be­hind the bar at Greyville Race­course when Royal Chal­ice won the July.

His first meet­ing as a ful­lyfledged trainer was on Septem­ber 19, 2009, and his first win­ner ar­rived four days later when Vik­ing Lizzy broke his maiden run by four lengths at a mid­week meet­ing at Dur­banville.

Shortly af­ter, Dan­ish Sil­ver landed the Michael­mas Hand­i­cap at Greyville on Oc­to­ber 9, 2009, and Goven­der had his first fea­ture race win­ner.

Goven­der prefers to train his horses than talk about his ex­ploits. He has al­ways prided him­self on his strike rate.

“Michael Dick­in­son taught me that any­one can train a race­horse, but it’s con­sis­tency that makes a trainer.

“If you look at my stats in the first 10 months, I had a 50% win­ning place rate per­cent­age. I reached 100 winners in 20 months.”

Goven­der says: “We’d been placed at group level and our win and place per­cent­ages were al­ways good, but at the end of the day, it’s the group 1’s that keep you awake at night.

“Un­til you’ve had one, you con­stantly ask your­self ‘Am I do­ing it right?’ ”

He got his an­swer in Jan­uary 2013 when the long-shot 7-year-old Mar­tial Ea­gle with a rookie jockey won the J&B Met.

It’s a story that will be re­told for years to come.

It came about al­most by chance, as Den­nis Drier’s charge had merely stopped at the Ron­de­berg fa­cil­ity en route to be­ing re­tired.

How­ever, with the restora­tive prop­er­ties of the West Coast and the care that was lav­ished on him, the old soldier seemed to find a new lease of life and on Drier’s rec­om­men­da­tion to “try him in the wet, he might like it”.

Goven­der de­cided to give him a chance. He jus­ti­fied their faith and ran a cracker, fin­ish­ing just over two lengths off Va­ri­ety Club. De­spite never be­ing tried beyond 1 600m, they took the bold move and sup­ple­mented him for the Met.

In one of the best fin­ishes at Greyville re­cently, 3-yearold geld­ing Filippo pro­duced a late and well-judged fin­ish to nab free-run­ning Billy Sil­ver on the line.

It’s of­ten near im­pos­si­ble to over­haul Richard Fourie on a strong, front-run­ning type – he had Billy Sil­ver go­ing great guns through the 200m-mark, but Filippo man­aged it un­der a good ride from in-form jockey Gunter Wro­ge­mann.

“Horse rac­ing is go­ing through a very tough pe­riod with dwin­dling pools, and on-course at­ten­dance has not been what it used to be in the gold old days.

“Rac­ing has to com­pete with other forms of gam­bling, es­pe­cially casi­nos, but when you see the huge crowds at the J&B Met, the Dur­ban July, the Post Mer­chants and other big­ger races, you feel good,” quipped Goven­der.

Trainer Yogas Goven­der with one of his win­ning horses.

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