Picture : A beaming Wendy Whitehead receives the KZN Racing Personality Of The Year trophy (Candiese Lenferna Photography).
Wendy Whitehead was deservedly named KZN Racing Personality Of The Year at the KZN Racing Awards on Friday evening.
Somebody recently said to Wendy, who is coming off her best ever season, “Your horses run for you because you love them. Have you noticed how they look at you?”
Since then Wendy has noticed how the horses come back after their workouts and stop and look at her and she said, “I then give them a pat or give them some grass or something, but it is almost like they want to please you.”
Such is Wendy’s love of animals her yard is like a mini farmyard. Two cats and three dogs accompany her to work everyday and the yard chickens gather around the couch in the barn for their lunch.
The bug bit when as a seven-year-old in Amamzimtoti she managed to persuade her father to send her for riding lessons for her birthday. She had her first pony within three months and a year later moved to the Hillcrest area where she was taught by Gail Page out of Sybil Plummer’s riding school. She had a few ponies but her big breakthrough came when she acquired a polo pony, whose name ironically was Wendy. Wendy and Wendy won may prizes and championships together. Wendy then moved on to horses, including thoroughbreds, and competed in the top grades in “juniors”.
She had her mind set on a career with horses and opted for racing because she knew she would be able to make a living in that environment.
Her first job was at Craig Ramsay’s Golden Acres farm where she learnt pre-training, breaking-in and breeding. She worked there for two years and then moved to Summerveld, which she found a much more exciting environment. She started working with Alan “Snowy” Reid and also rode in some ladies amateur races.
She learnt a lot from “Snowy”, for whom she worked for two years, and she called him “a fine trainer”.
Wendy used to admire the top Tony Furness yard and although “petrified of him because he was a hard taskman” she plucked up the courage one day to ask him for a job.