Winter School 2015: Wise Men Seek To Understand

Winter School 2015: Wise Men Seek To Understand

Image: School Of Excellence

Those of us who’ve attended the School Of Equine Management Excellence’s annual Winter Workshop will know what it means for the South African racing and breeding industries.

There is no other annual forum like it anywhere in the world, and the calibre of speakers has been simply out of this world. That it’s been a sell-out in all of its inaugural four years is no surprise, yet this year they appear to have assembled a gathering of speakers which in its depth, exceeds even those of its predecessors. Of course, the expense and the effort which the School’s Governors, Judge Alan Magid, Ronnie Napier, Dr May Mkhize and Heather Morkel, and convener Leigh Adams, contribute to its success, can only be justified by the continued support of the fans of our sport, and a glance at this year’s line-up tells us that no self-respecting racing aficionado can afford to miss it.

Here’s an “appetiser” for those who intend putting up their hands for a place at the ringside, embracing five international speakers and an assembly of local contributors who need no introduction.

  • Legendary Australian breeder and current Aushorse chairman, Antony Thompson is here to share the seven generation Widden story, and how it has thrived against the odds presented by the international breeding behemoths. He will also share the secrets to the prosperity of Australian racing and how to farm smart. No self-respecting horseman can afford to miss this one.
  • British Racing Journalist of the Year, Paul Haigh, editor-in-chief at The Racing Post, will speak on “The Battle for World Supremacy”. That should heat up the coals!
  • Those who were fortunate enough to hear Rob Caskie present the lectures which proclaimed him the world’s best story-teller, vowed that if ever he was on the menu again, they wouldn’t miss. Well, he’s back this year to talk about the events that shaped our history, and inasmuch as they signalled the beginning of the end of the British Empire, how they impacted on the world as we know it today. People pay thousands to listen to Rob Caskie at the Royal Geographic Society in London, and you’ll have him here at the School’s expense!
  • The former Fleet Street journalist and renowned television personality, Neil Morrice will talk about “Horses and People he has known” in the style only a raconteur of his class can.
  • Ireland’s Dr. Emmeline Hill is here to assist us in discovering how to isolate the “Speed Gene”, one of racing’s greatest scientific breakthroughs in modern times.
  • Former dean of the Faculty of Business at Cape Town University and senior economic advisor to Investec, Professor Brian Kantor has enthralled us over the years with his predictions on the economy and how these are informed by politics; this year he brings his own peculiar knowledge of the business of racing to the table with his speculation on where the opportunities lie for those with an iron in the fire. No man is better placed to talk to us on these issues. For the culture-vultures, his learned wife, Shirley, will enlighten us on “Horses in Art” pre-dinner on Tuesday.
  • Barry Bowditch, Sales Manager at Australia’s Magic Millions, will remind us that they also once had a “Salesgate”, and how two of the strongest sales companies in the world co-exist with a minimum of fuss for the mutual benefit of vendors and customers alike.
  • South Africa’s acknowledged expert on thoroughbred fertility, Professor Martin Schulman, brings a fresh perspective to one of the most vital topics in breeding: “Predicting reproduction in the thoroughbred”. If you’re in the game to make a living, this is prescribed listening.
  • COO of the Gauteng Gambling board, Edward Lalumbe and several of his counterparts from the other provinces will be in attendance. His vision of the gaming landscape in South Africa and how racing can benefit from it, is pivotal to any strategies we may wish to develop for ourselves in maximising the largesse which accrues as a result.
  • Former attendees will recall the popularity which greeted the talks of our jockeys and trainers over the years. This year Justin Vermaak and Bernard Fayd’Herbe, justifiably renowned for their knowledge and expertise in each of their professions, will talk about bloodstocking, syndicated ownership and race-riding in the modern era.
  • South Africa’s Senior racing programmer, Jay Harilall will talk to us about how the programme is structured and what the underlying purpose behind it is. This is your chance to have your say, and to share it with the most influential man in the country in the process.

Topic headings for the remaining lecturers are still being settled.

The School’s website ( will update these in the next few days.

Readers are advised to book early (Leigh Adams: or Amorette Kramer: and at the same time advise whether they require accommodation, where special concessions have been negotiated at various nearby options in the neighbourhood.

Teas and lunches will be provided by award-winning restaurant Hartford House, while dinners are optional.

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