EQUUS Champion Breeder John Koster of Klawervlei Stud has called for unity in the South African horse racing community.
Koster, in his acceptance speech delivered at the Equus Banquet last week, started with a short tribute to his late friend, Nick Columb, former Chairman of the Australian Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners Association (TROA) and until recently bloodstock consultant for the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
He congratulated the Equus winners and nominees and shared his belief that the breeders’ log will be even more competitive in years to come.
“This could be our last year as Champion Breeders. Jess and Mary (Slack) are surging up the log – and Mick Goss (of Summerhill) is always there.”
Koster praised the majestic animal that serves us: “Horses are mighty, noble, beautiful and spiritual. William Shakespeare described their majesty as follows: ‘When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk. He trots the air, the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipes of Hermes…’ “
He added: “Accepting this honour makes me realise just how many hands are involved who each thoroughly deserve the recognition.
“My team withstood the ultimate test with panache, pride and total professionalism. I will walk a 1000 miles with you and then a 1000 more. We have a revised vision and path looking forward, but one thing we will never change, living each day as if someone left the gate open! Tracey, Caroline, Grant and the team at home, you guys and girls are beyond awesome.”
With the industry in turmoil, Koster urged everyone to conduct themselves following the highest examples.
He said: “We have so many examples to live by to improve our situation. Madiba said, “A child is born to love, it takes a community to raise a child. A community shows humility, kindness, and empathy to one another. Reconciliation is the only path to happiness.
“Horses are great examples of how to live life. They are willing to give their all to win a Maiden or a Grade 1 race, similarly we need to go the extra mile for each other. Let us have the courage, like a horse, to change things for the better.
“Let us be gregarious, like a horse, who is a herd animal, like we are in our communities. Let’s build our own working community from Chairman to groom, one is as important as the other. With trust and belief, we need to do good things for each other. Ours is an industry of many beautiful people, people with beauty and spirit.
“Antonius Pius, the great Roman Emperor, enjoyed 23 years of peaceful rule. He would never put anything aside without first looking closely into it and understanding it clearly. He would tolerate those who unfairly blamed him without returning the blame to them and was never rushed in anything that he did.
“Also, Pius would not listen to malicious gossip. He was slow to criticise, immune to rumour, devoid of pretence, constant and fair in his friendships, tolerant of frank opposition to his own views and delighted to be shown a better way. He was God fearing, but not superstitious.
“Our industry is ripe for change. Within the industry we have brilliant minds, passionate beings, brave and courageous people, intense horse lovers.
“If we package these people together, work as a team and have the combined attitude of Madiba, Antonius Pius and the Horse, we will build a better thoroughbred community for all.”