Horses

Jack Milner
3 minute read
13 Apr 2019
6:35 am

Patrick Davis back in the harness at Phumelela

Jack Milner

Facing him today is ensuring there are no issues at the Royal Race Day at Turffontein, which will be attended by Princess Charlene of Monaco.

Patrick Davis poses for a picture at Turffontein race course, 12 April 2019. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

An old face has returned to Phumelela, bringing with him a new broom to sweep in some changes.

Patrick Davis, who held the position of racing executive at Phumelela from 2008 to 2015, is back in the position after spending the last few years as racing director of Weatherbys in the UK.

Among his duties will be the racing programme, the upkeep and security at training facilities, and, of course, looking after all the tracks which fall in the Phumelela ambit, including those in the Western Cape which, given the weather conditions, is quite a testing task.

Facing him today is ensuring there are no issues at the Royal Race Day.

Princess Charlene of Monaco will be at Turffontein for a meeting that includes the R1 million HSH Princess Charlene Empress Club Stakes as well as two Maiden Plates she sponsors, which each carry a purse of R250 000.

“It’s really great to have some of the top fillies in the country coming to Turffontein for this race, including last season’s Horse-ofthe-Year Oh Susanna,” said Davis.

“She is one of the highest-rated horses in the country and will be challenged by some of the best up-and-coming three-year-olds around. It should be a fantastic day’s racing.”

Davis is from a racing family. His parents and grandparents were owners and breeders in the Eastern Cape.

“I was born and bred on a stud farm so I was studying form and pedigrees before I could read, and riding horses before I could walk.

“My first 20 years were spent on a stud farm so I was always going to be bitten by the racing bug.”

Studying law at Rhodes University he flew up to Joburg to work for Delta Bloodstock during holiday breaks.

“I didn’t go on to do the LLB bit because I was too keen to get into racing. I used to spend my vacs studying pedigrees and earning a few bob.”

He then saw an advertisement looking for management trainees coming through the ranks.

“I got the one at Newmarket Racecourse where I spent five years and ended up as the assistant general manager.”

He travelled a lot, completing a management course in Kentucky in the US, as well as places like Japan and Hong Kong.

“I was lucky to be given those opportunities in my early 20s.”

He then became the first chief executive of the Racing Association in the late 1990s.

After two years he got a call asking him to run Plumpton Racecourse in the UK, where he spent eight years before moving back to become Phumelela’s racing executive from 2008 to 2015.

“I got a call from Nick Craven of Weatherbys in the United Kingdom. They had been searching for a racing director for over a year and asked if I was interested in the job.

“I saw it as great opportunity, working for a company that’s been in business since 1770.

“They do all the admin for British racing.”

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