where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2019-09-27 07:32:50  
Ladies in Racing: Alyson Wright

SA Horseracing recently took time out to find out more about the inspiring trainer Alyson Wright as part of a series on prominent women in the horse racing industry.

Are you from a racing family?
Quite a few of my immediate family are involved in the racing. My grandfather on my Mother’s side was good friends with Mr Ferraris and I believe he was a bit of a gambler. He spent a lot of time at Mr Ferraris’s yard and my mom and her sister would go with him and that’s where the horse bug bite them both. My mom first took out her trainers licence in 1980 in Zimbabwe.
Her first winner was actually ridden by my uncle who is Dick Roberts married to my aunt Lyn. Their one daughter Kerry is married to ex Jock Eric Chillin and I married Kevin Wright who was the Champion Jockey of Zim for many years.

How did you become involved in the horse/racing industry?
It was never really my intention to become a trainer but it was just a natural progression. With my Mom having been a trainer and then marrying a jockey our life was Racing.
My first real job involving horses was working on a Stud Farm, Rumbavu Park in Zimbabwe. Kevin then got an invitation to ride in Singapore for Ex Zimbabwean Michael Clements in 2001 so I then worked for Michael as a work rider/ assistant for a year. When we returned to Zimbabwe in 2002 my Mom took out her licence again and I was assistant trainer to her before we decided to move to Durban in August 2003.
Noelene Peech opened a yard here at the same time so I became assistant trainer to her before she left returned to zim a year later. Kevin was kicked at the start at a race meeting in November 2003 and this sadly ended his riding career. He was a stipe for a year but did not enjoy living in Joburg so as Kevin also grew up around horses as he father trained trotting horses and he is a good horseman we decided to open our yard.
It was not an easy thing to do as having only just moved to South Africa and not knowing the owners and breeders here we did not have the support behind us. We started with 2 horses that we bought at the Durban Sale in 2006. Kevin was helping out Neil Bruss at the time and we bought an older horse called Just Ice from him for Sitha Govender who was our first winner ridden by Jeff Lloyd.

Under whom did you learn the trade?
There have been so many people whom I have learnt from over the years. Obviously with my Mom having been a trainer from when I was little I have grown up in the racing yard and learnt from early on what training is all about. I was probably riding before I could walk and started riding track work when I was 14. Unfortunately when I was 18 and at the age of being able to learn from my mom she handed in her licence.
I would have to say that I learned so much about the care of a race horse and getting them to the race course when I work for Christopher and Neolene Peach as stud manager at Rumbavu Park Stud in Zimbabwe.
I also had the privilege of work riding for the Late Ginger Half-Penny who was always keen to help and pass on his knowledge. Neil Bruss has taught me so much over many years. He had an incredible instinct when it came to a hose. Over the last couple of years he would bring a string to Durban for the season and watching him get a horse prepped for a feature was incredible.

What are the qualities or attributes that a trainer needs to have in order to be successful in this game?
Firstly you need to have a passion for horses and love Racing. In this game there are Highs but a lot more lows and you need to be able to get through those times and keep moving forward, learn from mistakes made and have the drive to want to learn and improve yourself.
You need to be a good loser as you lose more than you win and you then appreciate every winner.
Success in racing is not through one person. Noele Peech always had a saying pinned up for all staff members to read “TEAM WORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK” and there is no truer saying than in a racing yard.
The grooms spend so much time with the horses and we firmly believe that if they are not kind to the horses they will not be good horses and this is stressed to our staff, you also have the foreman, work riders, the jockeys and assistant trainers who all play their role in the success of a yard.

How many horses do you have at the moment?
We have 50 horses in training with our 2yr olds waiting to come into training.

What are some of the best horses you have train?
The best horse I have trained is Kochka. Flitchity By Farr (By GO Deputy) is the best filly we have had so far. She just hasn’t gotten a big one under her belt but has been placed in a number of the graded races over the longer distances.

What was your most memorable day in racing?
There are a number of memorable days but Kochka being awarded Champion 2Yr Old of South Africa in 2013 was a proud moment.
Watching him win the Grade 1 Premiers Cup on Gold Cup Day so convincingly was such a thrill after being so disappointed on July Day when he was beaten by a whisker in the Grade 1 Golden Horseshoe.
Another highlight was sending a horse called Code Rock up to our satellite yard in Zimbabwe which was run by my Mom for the Tankard and watching him win that.

Which was the first feature race you won and what horse did you win with?
Our first small feature race win was the Sledgehammer with a lovely horse called Richmond Park who we also bought from Neil Bruss and was owned by John Jones.

Where is your favourite racetrack?
I would have to say Borrowdale Park in Zimbabwe. I think if you ask any Jockey who has ridden there they will agree that it is up there as being one of the best courses in the world.

Have you ever felt prejudiced against in racing as a result of being a woman?
No certainly not.

Do you have a favourite sire at the moment? Have any young sires impressed you?
We are very blessed to have the Quality Sires we have in SA at the moment. Even more exciting is seeing our locally Bred and Preformed horses becoming Sires and their offspring doing so well.
This will sound crazy but I love the Go Deputy’s. I think he has to be one of the most underrated sires in SA. Unfortunately he is not commercial so you don’t get many of his off spring at the sales. I think Vercingetorix has done exceptionally well.
I don’t have any 3 year olds by him but am very pleased that we have purchase 3 yearlings by him this year, next year I think they will be out of our reach.

What would you like to see changed in racing?
Obviously getting the crowd back to the courses would be nice but with modern technology you don’t have to be at the course to have a bet so don’t think this will be happening.
I know there has been a lot of work done behind the scenes on getting the export protocols changed but if they were to be changed and it was easier to export our horses this would be a huge benefit to the local industry as a whole.

What advice would give a someone keen in getting involved in racing, either as a trainer or as an owner, especially females?
For a women they need to understand that being a trainer is more of a life style. If you are fortunate enough that your kids are interested horses then it makes it a lot easier.
I am fortune in that my husband Kevin is a big part of the team but my son has never been keen on the horse and we have missed out on a lot of family time. It is a 7 day a week, 365 days of the year job.

On a positive not I would like to congratulate Gold Circle on their recent partnership with Hollywoodbets. They are a fantastic company and great promotors of the Racing Industry.





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