IN today’s edition of Turf Talk Time Machine we go back to January 2008.
On the photo, from the left, is leading bloodstock agent John Freeman of the Thoroughbred Group, legendary South African trainer Peter Kannemeyer and Lester Piggott, whom most of racing’s purists regard as the greatest jockey of all time.
Freeman tells: “The photo was taken at my house at the time of the 2008 J&B Met, when UK trainer William Haggas and his wife Maureen visited South Africa and her father Lester came along for dinner that night. ‘PK’ is an old friend of mine, he was also in attendance.
“Lester is hard of hearing, he didn’t say much but of course he is known for being a reserved individual. The gregarious ‘PK’ dragged a few laughs out of him though. William and Maureen have been back since then without Lester, but I did get to say hello to him at the Investec Epsom Derby last year.”
The Derby, of course, put Lester Piggott on the road to great fame. He won the famous race for the first time in 1954 on Never Say Die, when he was aged 18, and chalked up a further eight Derby’s after that, the last of nine on Teenoso in 1983. Among dozens of other features, Piggot also won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe three time, the Irish Derby five times and the Breeders’ Cup Mile on Royal Academy in 1990. He was associated with some of the legendary horses of modern racing, including Roberto, Nijinski, The Minstrel, Alleged and Sir Ivor. He is 80 years old and lives with his family in Newmarket, UK, where he still attends race meetings.
Peter Kannemeyer turned 83 earlier this month. He lives near Milnerton, Cape Town, where he trained the winners of most of South Africa’s major races including the J&B Met (Sunshine Man, Divine Master and Pas De Quoi) and the Durban July (Over The Air).
In a 2010 interview, he advised young trainers of today not to get involved in betting, to focus on training and to invest diligently: “I saved and invested a big proportion of my income and I gave and still give to charity. Today I can sit here at my house without a care in the world. I can watch racing and have a whiskey or work in my garden or play with the dogs. Money doesn’t necessarily bring happiness, but it brings freedom. I can open my front door at any time without being scared of a debt collector.’’