THE accusation that “men struggle with communication” can sometimes be a bit harsh, and then something like this lands in your lap, writes KATHRYN RALPHS.

Editor of Turf Talk – Charl Pretorius, sent a message through my boyfriend (not assistant) last Saturday requesting an article from me for Monday’s issue of the TT Newsletter.

The message was copied at about midday today. So if this arrived in your inbox a bit late, or if this ‘article’ seems a little under-prepared, I’ll leave it with the reader as to whose fault that is.

In the meantime, To: Mr Pretorius, To: Toffa Santos – my gorgeous boyfriend on his birthday, and To: the TT readers: Calm your racing minds and rest your weary hearts, because I am here to save you.

It’s a new week, in a new season, and its finally getting a bit warmer… so generally, the people employed in the horse racing industry are in pretty good spirits. A few of them even kindly obliged to answer a question for me today, and so this ‘article’ started to take some shape.

Horse Racing in SA is a small and close knit industry. One that has long hours and no breaks throughout the year Everyone knows everyone, and purely based on the amount of time that is spent together, colleagues start feeling a bit like extended family. No doubt there is enough love, hate and skinner to at least make the comparison to relatives.

Horse racing people talk about horse racing, A LOT. I say this with a lot of affection. I’m madly in love with a man who gets really bummed if he ends up at a party with a bunch of people who don’t follow the sport, and uses horse racing terms in everyday life, even changing lanes when he’s driving has become: “the inside” and “the outside.”

I get it. However to change it up slightly while still appeasing the die-hard racing fans, I have come up with a few “GET TO KNOW YOU” questions, all asked and answered by well-known people in the horse racing industry… the questions themselves just have nothing to do with racing… Enjoy.

The always helpful and energetic, Grant Knowles was asked: “If your entire life was a movie, what title would fit it best?”

His answer was direct and all encompassing: “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.”

After spending this last week in France at the ARQANA Sales, I’m guessing its currently not bad and not at all ugly.

I had to ask ALEC LAIRD this question.. he always seems like he’s got a tune bopping away in his head.

“What are the titles of your 3 favourite songs of all time?”

Pretty badass answers with:

Band on the Run – Paul McCartney and Wings
Brothers In Arms – Dire Straits
and Space Oddity by David Bowie”

RESPECT to Mr Laird. (I hope “ground control to major Tom” gets stuck in all your heads)

Jockey and newly expectant father, Craig Zackey, was asked: “If you had to have a different career, what would you be?” His answer was still in the athletic field as “a soccer player”… we’re thinking the Striker for Beirut FC would be perfect.

I’m sure John Koster was expecting my call to be about the upcoming breeding season, but we asked him: “Which one of your racing friends would make the best President of South Africa?”

After a little chuckle he said: “Lindsay Ralphs.” He very sweetly followed up with the reasoning saying; “He is forward thinking and embraces Ubuntu, successful in the corporate world and loyal to his country and its people.”

I love John Koster and I love my big dad, but, I’m still very much in the camp that believes my dad is a little too unfiltered for his own Twitter account at this time.

P.E’s resident, fierce, lady trainer, Tara Laing was next on my list to inconvenience, but she too was a delight. I asked: “What is your spirit animal/the animal that best represents you?”

“An Elephant. I’m very gracious, but you’ll need to run if you are charged!”
I would compare myself to a well-raised pit-bull, so Tara and I might be each other’s spirit animals.

I asked Adam Azzie, “What is your most unusual talent?” He reckons it’s his “Formidable Water Polo backhand.” I’ll take his word for that, and in addition I’ll admit that Addy has a pretty spectacular talent for trends and style.

I knew I would get an interesting answer from Bernard Fay’d Herbe when asking: “If you could take ANY 3 things with you to a deserted island, what would they be?”

His answer was surprisingly practical and champagnefree: “A lighter, a knife and MJ BYLEVELD to do the work.”

Of course this prompted a question to MJ Byleveld, affectionately known to my family as Mess (which needs no explanation.) “If you could change one law what would it be?” And the witty, back and forth continued, answering: “I wouldn’t allow Madagascan people into South Africa.”

I asked Mike De Kock: “What is something that youngsters think makes them look cool, but actually makes them look ridiculous?”

His answer was: “Baggy Pants.” I laughed at that.

I went off South African soil to get an answer from Aldo Domeyer. I thought it would be well worth it considering Aldo’s side-splitting comments on facebook. I asked: “Would you rather be the best player on a horrible team or the worst player on a great team?”

Aldo sent me this answer: “ Tricky question – I’m used to leading from the front, so to be the best player in a mediocre team wouldn’t be anything new. I would rather start off as the worst player in a great team and recognise that I have enough quality to have made the team and make sure I constantly grow as a player. After all being the worst player doesn’t mean you have to remain the worst player, improvement is boundless.”

Despite my immediate response to Aldo being: “That is very serious and professional Aldo, if you are being held against your will, blink twice..” I was pretty impressed with his answer. #aldoisadulting

I asked Julz Alexander “What’s your worst superstition?” She said “I never walk under a ladder.” I was careful not to ask a trainer this question.

I called Callan Murray (the kid who hit the SA ground running on Saturday) and asked him: “What is the most unpleasant sounding word?” He said: “Moist.” Why is that word so horrid?

Alistair Cohen, who is taking a well-deserved week away in the UK this week (and managing to catch a live Aston Villa game on the weekend) was asked: “What is something that people are obsessed with, but you just don’t see the point of? He answered: “Gin.”

Thanks to everyone for being such good sports, and a special shout out to Ray Danielson who couldn’t answer my call while on the golf course.

Peace and Love x

Photo: Kathryn Ralphs and Chris “Toffa” Santos. (Facebook).


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