Ladies in Racing -Lezeanne Forbes

SA Horseracing recently took time out to find out more about the vibrant and talented Lezeanne Forbes who is a successful horse trainer as part of a series on prominent women in the horse racing industry.


What are the advantages of growing up in a family that’s involved in horse racing?

I am a first generation horse fanatic. It was my obsession with the animal that led me to discovering my love of the sport of horse racing. I'm sure that the advantage of growing up in this environment is of course a head start in the attainment of knowledge. Also, if one does for example take over the family business from a successful predecessor, there is the added benefit of trading under that established brand. I think starting from scratch is much harder in every aspect, especially when it comes to proving yourself and acquiring the support from clients that every horse trainer needs in order to succeed.


How long have you been aspiring to become a trainer?

It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment that I started contemplating taking the reins so to speak. I think it is more a personal journey and an evolution of your my own dreams that eventually made me shift from "I want to work with horses" to "I want to be a race horse trainer".


Under whom did you learn the trade?

I have been fortunate enough to work with some really wonderful trainers as well as superb horsemen along my journey. The most influential mentor in my life in this regard has undoubtedly been Yvette Bremner. She taught me a lot about horses, racing and also about myself. I spent 2 years in Australia where I worked with Anthony Cummings at the state of the art racing facility, Royal Randwick, in Sydney. In Natal I spent some time with Corinne Bestel, Deon Visser and Allyson Wright, before taking the plunge and going on my own. I can only thank each and every one of these people for their contribution in my life and for the knowledge I acquired whilst under their employ.


What are the qualities or attributes that a trainer needs to have in order to be successful in this game?

Determination, grit, patience, intelligence, intuition, compassion and a great sense of humor.


How many horses do you have at the moment?

Currently my string is just over 30 horses in training. I have however been blessed with a very large intake of juveniles this season, with about 12 youngsters currently at pre-training facilities.


What are some of the best horses you have helped to train?

I was privileged to have ridden some fabulous horses in Australia, of which I know of about 5 that have gone on to be stallions over there at stud. I can not however really say that I helped train them, more just that I was able to bear witness to the training methods and learn in the process. In my own capacity as a trainer I would single out Royal Armour, who won 9 races under my care and Warfarer who won 5 races including a Listed race.


What was your most memorable day in racing?

I think I would have to say training my first winner. Nothing quite beats the first one. It was also very special as my late husband, Alec Forbes, was in the saddle. The wins were always sweetest for me when he was on top.


What race do you aspire to win, both locally and nationally?

The pinnacle for me is most certainly the Durban July. As a little girl, this would be the one race that we as a family would watch and all get to have a little bet on the horse of our choice. 


Where is your favourite racetrack?

My favourite course is 100% Greyville. I just love it!!!


Have you ever felt prejudiced against in racing as a result of being a woman?

No. I never see myself as a "woman trainer", I have only ever thought of myself as a RACE HORSE trainer.


Do you have a favourite sire at the moment? Have any young sires impressed you?

I don't know if I have an outright favourite. The 2 young sires that I think have been very impressive is Master Of My Fate and Vercingetorix. I also have a juveniles in the yard by freshman sire Flying The Flag and Coup De Grace. I like the look of the progeny of these 2 sires and I am looking forward to seeing how they perform on the track.


What would you like to see changed in racing?

I would really like to see a lot more new owners getting involved in this wonderful sport. The current economic climate is however affecting all sectors across the board, which I think is why the sport and leisure industries are also feeling the pinch.


Who, if anyone, has inspired you in racing?

I think I draw inspiration from the little guys, the underdogs. There are too many examples to mention, but it is seeing someone who not giving up when the going gets tough that inspires me most. It is easy when you are having the success and flying high. The real test comes when you are faced with failure, disappointment, hardship and loss. Watching people push through those times is what I find the most inspiring. Racing is a tough industry and a great leveler. Everyone sees the guy on the podium. Very few are aware just how hard it is to get there.


What advice would give a someone keen in getting involved in racing, either as a trainer or as an owner, especially females?

I don't think gender makes any difference. Your dreams should scare you a little and excite you a lot. If this is your dream, GO FOR IT!
















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