VETERAN trainer Stanley Ferreira has died at the age of 66. He was said by many knowledgeable racing people to be one of the best horsemen South Africa has produced.
During the 1980s, Ferreira regularly had 70-plus winners a season from three separate yards on the Highveld. In the 1985-86 season he saddled the most winners in the country – as Terrence Millard took the championship on total prize money.
In recent years, Ferreira has been based at the Vaal, with a smallish string mainly made up of horses owned by his long-time patron and good friend Roland Bouwer.
He had two breaks from training over the course of his career, admitting that he had burnt himself out trying to cope with large numbers of horses and frequent partying.
Born and schooled in Johannesburg, Ferreira was introduced to racing by his cousin Bruce Phillips, who was a jockey.
In 1974, at the age of 22, he landed a job with leading Highveld trainer Michael Roberts, getting his own training licence in 1978 when he took over Lennie Howe’s yard at Roseacre, 7km from Turffontein. His first winner was Steel Whistle, with Stephen Jupp aboard.
The best runners in his first training stint were Nakajima, Frederiko, sprinter Blue Rhapsody, the grey Busby, 11-time winner King Of The Roses and top handicapper Brutus.
Among his prominent owners was Syd Gervis, while jockeys who developed their careers with him included Christie Blom, Gavin van Zyl, Jeff Freedman and Nicholas Shearer.
He took over extra stable yards as they were vacated by John Breval at Newmarket and the Azzies at Woodippen House. Success bred popularity and he ended up with 150 horses – the largest string in South Africa.
In an interview with Tabnews in 2009, Ferreira said: “It put a lot of pressure on me, especially because people stopped paying and I was socialising far too much. It got out of control.”
He went on holiday to Tzaneen and didn’t come back for a while, taking a job running a spa.
“But once racing’s in your blood, you don’t stop yearning for it,” he reflected.
In 1991 he took over Jim Brady’s stables with a handful of horses to look after, but when word got out that Stan was back horses started arriving by the float-load from owners keen to tap into the Ferreira magic.
That training stint lasted four years, before he decamped to Tzaneen again – to sell paint for 13 years.
The third return started in 2009 when Bouwer promised him a small string and took him to yearling sales to pick out a few gems. Ferreira made a pact with himself to handle things more circumspectly.
He told Turf Talk in 2016: “Things have changed, training is not the same as it used to be, so I’m not sure if I need the aggravation of running a massive stable again. Things can become unpleasant and I don’t want that. The cost of training is higher than ever and you’re competing with big championship stables with satellite yards and they are hard to beat wherever you go.”
It wasn’t long before the winners started flowing again – notably his first Grade 1 triumph, courtesy of Juxtapose, who landed the 2016 SA Oaks.
In the current 2018/2019 season, he has 12 winners to his name, with a winners-torunners rate of 9%. In the previous few seasons he had 20, 18, 32 and 22 winners – from a yard of about 40 horses.
Bouwer, his faithful friend, told Turf Talk on a trip to Dubai in 2015: “There is nobody like Stan Ferreira, he is my friend, my trainer. When I talk about Stan I want to start crying!” And then the big man started crying.
Among those who learned the training ropes under Ferreira were James Butterworth, Scott Kenny and Erico Verdonese.
-extracts from TAB News.