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It’s just over a year since you took over as CEO of Cape Thoroughbred Sales (CTS). Give us a few words on your experience so far?

I was thrown in the deep end and things have been turbulent at times, but exciting and enjoyable all the same.  While bloodstock has always been my passion I’ve learnt to see matters from a breeders’ perspective as opposed to an owners’ perspective which is important in the Kuda business. I’ve had to learn to understand breeders and their specific needs. CTS has confirmed itself as a part of the international sales roster with a growing international client base. It has been great for me to build international relationships, and to also see how things are done elsewhere.

How have you managed to balance your duties at Kuda with your new role at CTS?

In a way it was a blessing in disguise, as I certainly had to learn to delegate better! Fortunately, I’ve always had a rock-solid team behind me at Kuda and they have taken on more responsibilities. We take care and pride in the people we appoint. Kuda is in a healthy space and we’ve built a strong, independent back-office. One of the reasons for my employment at CTS was the potential synergies between the two companies. Selected functions of both could be shared by the back office to the benefit of both and ultimately to the benefit of the industry.

A year ago there were rumours that CTS was on its last legs, that we’d see maybe one more sale before it closed? Are you back on a solid footing?

We were well aware of the rumours, in fact there are still a few doing the rounds, but we’ve had two sales since I took over and we’re fine, things are going well. In the beginning I got upset when I heard people spreading rumours and adding tails to every rumour but in the end it’s always better to focus on what is happening now. We have a good international brand, our directors are committed for the long run, they’ve built the brand at great expense to themselves and we are not going anywhere!. We want to concentrate on doing what we do well, and doing even better.

Tell us about your Ready To Run catalogue for 23 November

We have a strong catalogue with an excellent spread of sires and black type. There are less horses catalogued this year, and this does certainly improve your odds from a buyer’s perspective, given that we will still race for R2.5m come November 2019. From a seller’s perspective this will result in greater competition amongst buyers and I am expecting a strong result.

We’ve seen some positive signs of cooperation in the market, perhaps a greater willingness for the two sales companies to work together?

Well, competition lies at the core of capitalism, and by that I mean healthy competition in which one party doesn’t go out of its way to put one over the other. If that happens, everyone actually loses. We’ve made it our principle to conduct ethical business which benefits all in the breeding and racing industry.

There have been some high-profile resignations and changes in racing recently. Do you have a view on that?

Change is good for any industry, change is necessary at times. Racing is evolving and needs change to survive, to keep evolving. The important thing to remember is that all the codes of racing rely on the top of its organisational structures to remain healthy and function correctly at all levels. We are in an era in which we have to set differences aside, we have to work together for the benefit of the greater sport of racing. It starts at the top.

You are a keen owner and you race mostly in the Cape. How do you feel about the future of Cape racing?

There have been some good initiatives to get people to the track. The way I see Cape racing and racing elsewhere is the same. We have to look after owners, and we have to look after punters. The race day experience is absolutely vital. When a punter comes racing, or he brings his friends, they must enjoy it to the extent that they’d like to increase their participation, perhaps via ownership. As for owning horses, I believe it has to retain an element of exclusivity, the owner of a racehorse has to feel special and have a special experience when he attends a race meeting. I don’t believe in sitting on the sidelines. I believe in making a difference, hence my acceptance of a nomination to the Western Cape RA Board.