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Picture: Lunga Gila has been working with horses for over 20 years and the now 39-year-old has been granted his trainer’s license. 


Henk Steenkamp

IT has been a long journey but Lunga Gila finally received the greenlight to start his training career.

“It got my licence and will start with 25 horses based at Randjesfontein.

The tracks and the stables are very nice here,” an excited Gila, eager to get on with the job, said.

The 39-year-old man from the Transkei has been working with racehorses since his teenage days. It was always a dream of his to become a trainer and today he is a respected horseman with a wealth of knowledge.

Gila had a long stint as the right hand man of former trainer Mitch Wiese (now an Australian resident) at the Fairview stables.

He then worked for the Glen Kotzen-stable, running the satellite yard in Gqeberha. When Kotzen closed the satellite yard in 2015, Gila joined him in Cape Town and later ran the Kotzen satellite yard in Durban.

Since last year he was in charge of the satellite yard of KwaZulu-Natal trainer Kom Naidoo at Fairview.

It wasn’t easy for Lunga to leave his beloved Eastern Cape and make the move to Gauteng.

He is not worried about adjusting to Gauteng life because it is all about the horses and his job for him.

“It was an opportunity I had to grab with both hands. I am just concentrating on my work now.

“All I want to know is the way from my house to work and to the races. I am not here for anything else.

“I like to put my head down and do the work. I am a hard worker.

“Those trainers, Glen Kotzen and Mitch Wiese, believe I will succeed because they trust me, they know me.

“Naidoo was very happy with me. They believe in me and I will not let them down.”

Wiese, speaking from Brisbane, was delighted to hear that Gila got his licence.

“I am so proud of him. He deserves every bit of accolade he gets and deserves to be a trainer. I thought it would have happened years ago.

“I know he will succeed and hope he gets the support he needs.

“He is a true horseman and has the personality to communicate with clients, that’s the balance.

“Lunga grew up in my stable. He was a young kid when he walked in, starting as a groom.

“He showed potential to be my assistant-trainer and I promoted him. He picked up

everything, absorbed everything and was never late for work.

“Luna showed signs of a real horseman but also showed he was a good communicator with people.

“People enjoyed his personality which made me realize this is the material to be a good racehorse trainer.

“You need to train but you also need to mix with clients,” Wiese explained.

Over the years Gila built up a good reputation with horses in his care always looking the part and running competitive races.

Known in the industry as a hard worker, Gila will expect the same from anyone working with him.

He also works closely with the jockeys who are involved with his horses.

“I Like it when a jockey does what I tell him to do. It also helps a lot when a jockey gives you feedback after a race.

“Then you know which things you have to work on to get the best out of the horse.

“Jockeys make mistakes sometimes but when they take responsibility for that everyone can work as a team to get things right the next time the horse runs,” Gila explained.

And he is not afraid to get on a horse himself when he feels it is necessary.

For anything thinking of getting involved with Gila’s stable the message is clear that you will be getting a run for your money – this man won’t let you down.