where the horse is always the hero
Article Item
Section sponsored by - Racing Association Posted 2009-02-23 15:44:29  
Race day commemorates Buddy Maroun

The race meeting at Turffontein on Saturday, February 21 is dedicated to the memory of Buddy Maroun, the Highveld racehorse trainer who passed away a year ago.

Buddy’s untimely death shocked South African racing as he was a hugely respected and admired exponent of his craft, and in his prime at 51.

In the year since his passing, he has come to be universally acknowledged as one of the modern legends of the game. He was unquestionably one of the greatest trainers of sprinters this country has seen.

Golden Loom, pictured here with Buddy, was the shining star in his galaxy of racetrack speedsters, but the trainer also demonstrated his all-round ability by preparing Highland Night for victory in the 3200m Gold Cup.

Keith Robert Maroun was born in Johannesburg on February 17 1957, the second of Robert and Lillian Maroun’s six children. He died, on his birthday, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2008.

He got the nickname “Buddy” after being knocked down by a car as a child and having his grandmother pray to the Lebanese Christian Saint Anthony of Padua for his recovery. “Padua” became “Buddy”.

It was also as a boy that he developed a love of horses – unsurprising with his father Robert being a successful trainer. Buddy helped his dad in the yard from a young age, eventually becoming his assistant. He became a very good work rider, key to his later achievements as a trainer.

Buddy was granted his own training licence in the mid-1980s, operating from Randjesfontein Training Centre at Midrand. Later his brother Anthony acquired a farm at Putfontein, near Benoni, and Buddy moved there.

While Anthony built up the training centre – erecting stables, sinking boreholes and planting eragrostis feed grass – Buddy went to work on the horses and training tracks. He brought in thousands of cubic metres of Vaal River sand – and, importantly, a 400m stretch of silicon sand for sprint work. Every day he insisted on driving the tractor to harrow and till the running surface.

Such attention to detail was a Buddy Maroun trademark. He rode work on all his string, often exercising more than 40 horses a morning. He qualified as a farrier and shod all his runners; and he drove the floats carrying his horses to and from race meetings.

Buddy’s horses ran frequently – week in and week out, clearly with little ill effect, but exciting much public comment and debate. This training technique was learnt from father Robert, who believed competition exercise could be more beneficial to horses’ form and soundness than conventional reliance on lengthy training gallops.

The proof of the pudding was in the eating. One of Buddy’s best horses was Follow The Falcon, who thrived for seven seasons and, amazingly, won the Group 1 FNB 1600 in his 110th start.

“He never worked his horses hard, although he raced some of them often,” explains Robert. “Also, his success came from his work riding. He had a very special affinity with horses. He understood them and they understood him; they obeyed him.”

Brother Anthony – a well-known owner with horses trained by another sibling, Bradley – mentions that Buddy himself was a sprinter of note in school athletics. “He studied human sprint training techniques, and applied what worked for him to the horses,” says Anthony.

The undisputed stable champion was the gelding Golden Loom – nicknamed “Goofy” for being rather laid back.

The son of Golden Thatch won 22 races and was placed 37 times in 78 starts over a phenomenal nine racing seasons, delivering R2.85-million in stakes to owners Raymond and Budwa Abrosie. He won 16 black-type contests, including three Group 1s: the Computaform Sprint at Turffontein in 1997 and 1998, and the Golden Spur at Scottsville in 2000.

Other top horses included Fov’s Favourite, with 14 wins from 65 starts, including the Computaform Sprint and Mondi Sprint; and All Will Be Well, with 17 wins in 100 runs, including the Mercury Sprint.

Al Nitak carried Lisa Prestwood to history as the first female jockey to ride a South African Group 1 winner; while Geordoba and Fanyana were among many other notables.

For more than a decade it was common to find Maroun runners filling two or more placings in top division sprints.

The jockeys most associated with this success were Sherman Brown and Anton Marcus, while leading patrons included Andre Macdonald, John Finlayson, Bill Strydom, Joe van Streepen and family, Bob van Vuuren, Savvas Englesakis, Raymond and Budwa Abrosie, Shalito Nassif and Mary Liley.

These owners were fiercely loyal to their trainer, and he reciprocated. Relationships sometimes extended to him simply trusting people to pay him the correct amount owed. More than one owner had to beg Buddy to provide a statement.

A group of Buddy’s owners accompanied him on a horse-buying trip to Argentina early last year. While riding potential purchases, he scratched his upper leg on a saddle and the wound became infected. As the party was due to return home within days, he did not seek immediate medical treatment. When Buddy’s condition rapidly deteriorated, his friends rushed him to hospital where septicemia was diagnosed.

Buddy’s partner Claudia and sister Penny urgently flew to Argentina, but he died before they arrived.

He left his wife Pamela and daughter Leolita, 26; and Claudia and their son Aiden, 4.

Buddy was a quiet, reserved man, who shunned the gossip and politics of racing. “He couldn’t be bothered with argumentative people,” says brother Anthony, “he just wanted to be with his horses. He lived for them, 24 hours a day.

“He didn’t like going out at all; preferred to stay on the farm. He chose his friends carefully and they were very staunch,” says Anthony.

Those friends, and all of racing, miss the special talent that was Buddy Maroun. We salute his memory.

Email link to a friend | Printable Version
  • Similar Articles
    Displaying 20 ResultsSee All
    nooresh juglall dies in horrific mauritius fall2021-05-15

    Top jock Nooresh Juglall has succumbed to injuries from a fall at Champ De Mars in Port Louis Maurit...

    View | Add Comment
    eyes wide open’s july odds slashed2019-05-20

    Both firms left the market leaders unchanged. Betting World has Hawwaam favourite at 7-2 with Do It ...

    View | Add Comment
    general franco’s poor run probed2019-05-20

    The R4 million supposed future superstar General Franco served up one of the shocks of the season wh...

    View | Add Comment
    general franco ready to take the salute2019-05-17

    General Franco took the breath away with the sustained acceleration he produced to power through the...

    View | Add Comment
    rockin russian primed for victory2019-05-17

    The side on view of that incident showed Rockin Russian moving up to win but then having her momentu...

    View | Add Comment
    snaith holds aces2019-05-16

    Asked on whether his trio would need it on Saturday, Snaith replied, “No they have all had a g...

    View | Add Comment
    fiorella to up her game2019-05-16

    He said, “She is exceptionally well in herself. It was hard to find races for her over this so...

    View | Add Comment
    wright, whitehead on a mission2019-05-16

    Whitehead was pleased with Twice As Smart, who tries the trip for the first time. She pointed out sh...

    View | Add Comment
    turffontein preview saturday september 3rd 2016-09-03

     Turffontein 3/9/2016 Race 1 1-8-9-7 1# Bubbly Reply: Is in very good nick at the momen...

    View | Add Comment
    j j included in cosmopolitan entry for darley july cup2009-05-06

    The £400,000 Group One Darley July Cup, the highlight of the three-day Newmarket July Fes...

    View | Add Comment
    gladiatorus storms to dubai duty free victory2009-03-28

    The Dubai Duty Free was a truly Emirati victory with apprentice rider Ahmed Ajtebi completing a rema...

    View | Add Comment
    forest path back on winning trail in s.a classic2009-03-28

    Forest Path (SAF) bounced back to his best which a gritty victory in the grade 1 S.A Classic over 18...

    View | Add Comment
    gold circle head resigns2009-03-13

    Gold Circle has completed its independent assessment of the financial sustainability of th...

    View | Add Comment
    oracy, zirconeum head classic day nominations2009-03-09

    The first four past the post in the Gauteng Guineas could square up yet again at Turffontein on 28 M...

    View | Add Comment
    captain looks to turn the tables in open guineas2009-02-26

    The Gr 2 Gauteng Guineas over 1600m is one of the highlights of an exciting card at Turffontein on...

    View | Add Comment
    dancer's daughter faces gypsy's warning2009-02-26

    Dancer's Daughter has deadheated with Pocket Power in the Vodacom Durban July, beaten him in the G...

    View | Add Comment
    lloyd to ride in hong kong2009-02-25

    After a recent move to Australia from South Africa, Jockey Jeff Lloyd is moving again. The Hong Kon...

    View | Add Comment
    stage colony euthanized at age 222009-02-24

    Multiple Grade 3 winner Stage Colony was euthanized on February 15 due to complications from colic. ...

    View | Add Comment
    kwazulu-natal 2009 feature season2009-02-24

    The forthcoming new look KwaZulu-Natal feature race season, which incorporates Champions Season, lau...

    View | Add Comment
    race day commemorates buddy maroun2009-02-23

    The race meeting at Turffontein on Saturday, February 21 is dedicated to the memory of Buddy Maroun,...

    View | Add Comment
  • South Africa
    Displaying 10 ResultsSee All
    july favourite gets plum draw 5 hours ago

    Green With Envy has got most likely the best draw possible at 5 for the Durban July. The event atte...

    View | Add Comment
    tco2 update for the last two weeks including fairview's latest odds on shot 7 hours ago

    Fairview on Monday, experienced a quiet day, relatively speaking, following on from Saturday's 'Keni...

    View | Add Comment
    frances ethel out of the july1 days ago

    Frances Ethel won't take her place in Africa's great race. The Team Valor owned filly whose claim...

    View | Add Comment
    another odds on shot scratched due to tc021 days ago

    Scottsville saw another victim of TC02 on Sunday as racing switched from Cape Town and Johannesburg ...

    View | Add Comment
    kinda wonderul takes irridescence2 days ago

    Craig Zackey is having an outstanding season with numerous feature wins, most notably on Rascova wit...

    View | Add Comment
    drakenstein record in controversial langerman2 days ago

    Drakenstein Stud achieved a remarkable milestone with a record-breaking 21 stakes winners in a singl...

    View | Add Comment
    kenilworth's tc02 devastation2 days ago

    It was a TC02 bloodbath at Kenilworth as no less than 7 horses tested as over the limit and were scr...

    View | Add Comment
    rose at ascot: a south african angle to the great week3 days ago

    Is there any other race meeting in the world that can evoke the same thrill as Royal Ascot? It truly...

    View | Add Comment
    sandringham summit retired - but he may not have been in south africa at all5 days ago

    Grade 1 winner and Champion 2 year old colt of last season, Sandringham Summit has been retired to s...

    View | Add Comment
    kzn derby winner goes up big time in ratings5 days ago

    The latest handicappers rating has seen Red Maple increase markedly in the latest release. Here are ...

    View | Add Comment