BREEDING industry stalwart George Rowles of Ivanhoe Stud has passed away. Rowles had progressed through the ranks from a small breeder-owner-trainer to an influential breeder, that of master of a large and consistently successful stud, a successful owner, and a man who served the industry in his capacity as council member of the Thoroughbred Breeders Association of South Africa, committee member of the Natal Owners’ and Trainers’ Association and a steward of the Clairwood Turf Club.
George had been successful and his Ivanhoe stud was long regarded as one of the leading nurseries in the country. At one point he occupied fifth spot on the national breeders’ log – no mean achievement when one considered the calibre of the competition.
Elected to the Council of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association of South Africa in 1980, one of George Rowles’s main platforms on this committee had been equal treatment for all.
After completing his schooling, he didn’t immediately become involved with horses, electing instead to become a dairy farmer in the Transvaal. But racing was in his blood and it wasn’t long before he acquired two mares and that was the start of what is today his breeding and racing enterprise.
One of his first acquisitions was the twice successful Colchis II mare Sophie, who, when bred to the very good sprinter Black Cap, gave George his first winner as an owner-trainer when the filly Shanghai, ridden by Charlie Barends, opening her winning account as a juvenile at Newmarket in 1957. The filly went on to win a further four races the following season.
George, who has been a colour holder for more than 30 years, decided to move back to Natal, and in 1959 bought a tract of land at Waterfall, close to Hillcrest, where he had lived ever since. He soon set about establishing a training track on the property, a facility which boasts a 1100m sand and grass track still in use today. A unique feature of the track is that the rails are irrigation pipes making for easy watering of the surfaces.
The stud struck gold with the acquisition of the imported English horse Caerdeon, a brother to One Thousand Guineas winner Caergwrle, by Epsom Derby and Two Thousand Guineas winner Crepello out of Caerphilly, a daughter of sprinting Abernant with a Timeform rating of 129.
Sabre, a Classic winner of 12 races, was also used as one of the resident sires.He also stood another successful sire in Rocky Marriage, whose reach went beyond racing and a few years ago, was represented at the highest levels in the world and aimed at the Olympics by an Eventing horse named Heartbreak Hill with rider Paul Hart.
The KZN Breeders Club recognised George Rowles for his outstanding lifetime achievements and contribution to the Thoroughbred industry at the KZN Breeders Awards in 2014 with the Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to him by lifelong friends Robin Scott and Bill Lambert.
*A memorial service for Rowles will be held at Highbury Chapel, in Hillcrest, KZN at 15H00 on Thursday 31 January 2019. No flowers by request – in lieu thereof, the family has suggested that a donation be made to the Coastal Horse Care Unit in Cato Ridge, KZN. Info from Sally Ann (Rowles) Hyatt – 0836541159.
Photo: George Rowles (middle) with Robin Scott (left) and Bill Lambert.