where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2024-04-13 07:32:40  
Durban to the Plains, South Africa's Latest Talent Thriving in Oz

Mark Naidoo can best be described as a go getter. A man with a dream and he didn't let opportunities go by in South Africa either. However, chance meeting after chance meeting led him to take up a life changing job offer at Coolmore in Australia working with legendary stallions and ultimately with a certain 10 million dollar yearling in what can only be described as a life altering moment.

Entering the prestigious realm of Coolmore Australia during the 2023 breeding season marked the beginning of an exhilarating chapter in the career journey of Mark Naidoo.

He started his career in Durban, the home of the world famous Durban July, as a boy with a dream. Born and bred in Reservoir Hills a mere 10km from the famous Greyville Racecourse, Naidoo had a singular ambition - to be apart of the horse world. Having completed his Stud management diploma under Mick Goss and the world famous Summerhill Stud farm and a chance meeting with July winning trainer, Brett Crawford, he found himself in the cauldron of the sport.

"I met Brett by sheer chance having chatted to him at a stallion day whilst sitting at the same table and he suggested I come see him for a job." And that's how it began. Having joined Crawford and spend a few years with him, Naidoo moved onto Peter Muscutt's yard when Crawford left the Durban scene. Muscutt was Crawford's assistant at the time and Naidoo joined Muscutt at Summerveld when he took out his licence.

Muscutt worked for the trainer who trained the legendary Winx, Chris Waller. He was assistant to Waller in Australia. Back in South Africa, it was almost a full circle moment that found the link up with Naidoo and Winx's world record yearling baby years later.

Leaving Muscutt for Alyson Wright, it was a matter of months before Naidoo's paperwork come through for his Coolmore appointment. Another South African, Justin Carey (Coolmore Stud Manager) helped Naidoo into the country, he being the son of Amanda and Craig Carey.

Eric Sands introduced the two and the rest was history. The full circle moment from the days when Muscutt trained a young Winx to training a young Naidoo is a true racing story. Naidoo was a member of the team who handled and cared for the A$10m yearling by Slipper winner Pierro recently sold at Inglis Easter by Coolmore.

Naidoo speaks fondly of his new home in Australia in the Hunter Valley and of his associations he has built rather quickly - both human and horse.

"As a stallion handler, I have been entrusted with the care of some of the most esteemed names in the Thoroughbred industry, both from home (Australia) and abroad.

"Among the illustrious lineup of stallions are notable figures such as Justify from America's Ashford Stud, alongside Starspangledbanner, St Mark's Basilica, Churchill, and Wootton Bassett, all of whom have made the journey from the verdant pastures of Ireland to grace our stables for the season," said Naidoo with a disbelieving voice.

However, he mentioned being fondest of the homegrown heroes that truly captured his admiration."From the majestic stallion So You Think to the regal Pride of Dubai (sire of Pride Of Jenni who won today's QE Stakes with a classic front running ride), each stallion embodies the pinnacle of equine excellence. Notably, Fastnet Rock, though retired, continues to leave an indelible legacy within Australian Ranks," noted Naidoo. Naidoo has had the privilege of handling them all.

However, he speaks most admirable of one - Home Affairs - a stallion he says who holds a most special place in his heart. Home Affairs is renowned for his exceptional physical attributes and gentle temperament and has left an indelible mark on his progeny - his oldest are going to be yearlings soon. His ability was nothing to be sneezed at. Exceptional on the wet, Home Affairs beat many a champion including the world champion sprinter himself, Nature Strip.

"Beyond the confines of the stud, life in Australia is warm and vibrant. The people exude a friendly and laid-back demeanor, reflecting the rich tapestry of the country's racing culture. Attending races at iconic venues such as Randwick and Rosehill has been a highlight for me, offering a firsthand glimpse into the passion and excitement that permeates the Australian racing scene," mentions Naidoo with pure passion for the sport.

He speaks fondly of how well he is looked after by Coolmore and his visit to Inglis Easter Sales showed him the commitment of Australians to the sport. "It stands out as a testament to the industry's unwavering dedication to excellence", he claims.

"Playing a part in the sale of 'the' Winx filly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, showcasing the caliber of stock available within our ranks. The resounding success of the sale speaks volumes about Coolmore's commitment to meticulous attention to detail, cementing its reputation as a leader in the global racing fraternity," said Naidoo.

"As I reflect on my journey thus far, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to be apart of the Coolmore Australia team. Each day brings new challenges and triumphs, reaffirming my passion for the world of Thoroughbred breeding. With anticipation, I eagerly look forward to the adventures that lie ahead, knowing that the journey with Coolmore is nothing short of extraordinary," concluded Naidoo.

The 31 year old with a burning desire to succeed and to take on every opportunity that exists, has the world at his feet now. From humble beginnings in Reservoir Hills in Durban, the kid with a dream could never have imagined having detailed conversations with people from far and wide and on the hallowed grounds of Coolmore Australia in Jerry Plains, to boot.

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams," Eleanor Roosevelt. Racing truly does take one to places only dreamers dream.  

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