Interview With Trainer Yogas Govender

Interview With Trainer Yogas Govender

Yogas Govender. Image: Gold Circle

Yogas Govender is a trainer who is taking the racing world by storm. The first impression you get from him is his friendliness and enthusiasm, with lots of positivity. He is currently lying in tenth position on the NHRA National Trainers log, and fourth in KZN. His place percentage nationally is 50%, which is more then some prolific trainers lying above him on the log.

“I wanted to be a trainer from a very young age and was fortunate that Glen Kotzen offered me a job as a stable employee in 2001. I joined him and worked there for four years, however I have been in the industry for 12 years. It was something that was I always fixated on from a young age.

“It is only my second season as a trainer so I am a relatively new trainer in the industry and the 2012 Emperors Palace National Yearling Sale was the first time that I bought horses on my own using an independent assessment. I didn’t use any bloodstock agents this year, I went to the sale on my own and I bought two horses for Mrs Plattner, two colts. They weren’t expensive, one was R180 000, the other R300 000 – one was an Argonaut who is a new stallion, the other was by Stronghold.”

The Stronghold colt Yogas purchased on behalf of Sabine Plattner from Summerhill Stud was Marino Casino (out of Winning Glory by Gallic League), the highest price ever paid for a Stronghold. He is also a half-brother to Hear The Drums, the horse with the most wins in South African racing history with 35 wins to his name. Stronghold, now deceased, is having a lot of success with his first crop just beginning to race and winning already. He left just two crops of foals in total.

He has done remarkably well in a short space of time, surrounded by trainers who have been in the business for years. He attributes his success to the guidance and help of many people.

“I have been very fortunate and have a lot of people to thank. Firstly I have the support of Mrs Sabine Plattner which is a very important part of my success and to have the backing of an owner. Secondly I have surrounded myself with a very young positive team. Bernard Fayd’ Herbe is my stable jockey, I have Byron Foster as my assistant in Durban and I have Nicky Van Kraayenburg who is a young girl managing my yard in Cape Town. My key element is surrounding myself with young, positive people who want to succeed.

Marino Casino, a son of Stronghold and half-brother to Hear The Drums, bought by Yogas Govender for Sabine Plattner. Image: Summerhill Stud

“Having worked in America for Michael Dickinson one of the things he told me is that his philosophy is that anyone can train a racehorse, but it’s the consistency that makes a trainer. And having a consistant yard is a progressive yard.”

“This is my second season as a trainer and I have tried to maintain a high consistency. If you look at my stats in the first 10 months, I had a 50% winning place rate percentage. That’s good for a young trainer. Also, remember I don’t have a big yard and secondly I have owner bred horses. It’s really good to train that percentage when you have an owner-based breeder. I get horses straight from the farm regardless of their conformation. I don’t have the privilege of being one of those trainers who has 100 horses in my yard, and have had the opportunity to go to sales and buy what they like. I train what I am given to train, so that makes it a bit difficult and that’s what I try to put to my team as well.

“You have to be realistic in this game, you can’t be running in big races just for the sake of running. We try to place our horses in the best company to try and increase their ratings.”

He adds that a good diet is vitally important. “We spare no cost when it comes to feeding the horses,” he explains. “They get oat hay and very good bedding. We have all our horses in Durban and Cape Town. We ship our lucerne at our cost to our horses in Durban because we believe that is the fuel for the racehorse.

“We use the Mike de Kock Epol racing mix and I also use Equifeed.” Yogas praises Mike de Kock for his assistance and advice. “Mike de Kock, what a gentleman. He is very helpful with regards to my feeding. For him to take the time out to give me advice, I was absolutely humbled. For Mike de Kock to take the time to phone me and speak to me and tell me about the feeding, I was absolutely humbled, he is one of the great trainers of the world. I use his feed, and I am very happy with the feed and the results we have achieved.”

Maliyakhe winning for Sabine Plattner, trained by Yogas Govender. Image: Gold Circle

He doesn’t have a lot of KZN-breds, but rates Maliyakhe (Muhtafal – Snooty Lady by Northern Guest) as his top KZN-bred. “We bought him from Summerhill Stud and he is an 8-time winner, he is my best KZN-bred at the moment.”

Maliyakhe, a R500 000 yearling purchase from Summerhill Stud, won his second to last start from The Shark and Delago Deluxe, and he was recently narrowly defeated by Castlethorpe. He has placed 10 times to date.

With three horses entered into the upcoming Vodacom Durban July, his expecations are realistic. “We never came into the season expecting to have a July runner, if we get a run we will over the moon, but we want to get a run based on a horse winning a build-up race to the July and not because there are 16 horses and they are trying to fill the field.”

His words of encouragement for anyone wanting to get involved in the horse-racing industry are simple: “It’s a very hard game but a rewarding and very exciting career. I work really hard and the pressure is a 24 hour thing. It’s a very big position but I still wouldn’t change it for anything in the world!”

KZN Breeders wish Yogas and his team all the best for the future!

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