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Dream Start for Renate du Plessis

March 2014

Favour Stud-based Renate du Plessis said that winning a stakes race in her first month as a licensed trainer was “like a dream” and gave most of the credit to the “special horse” that did it for her team, the three-year-old National Emblem filly Lielums.

Lielums won the Listed Lady’s Pendant over 1 200m at Fairview last Friday under Robert Khathi to provide Renate with just her second career winner.

She said, “She has a big heart and has always shown ability. We made a tactical change and Robert rode a flawless race. She usually comes from behind and always has the fastest 400m to finish time, so I asked him to use that speed and get her right up there.

“We also changed her headgear to half scoops because with full blinkers, when she cant’s see the horses alongside, she thinks she has won. She is just one of those horses that is the ruler of the roost and is a real fighter! Robert said she just took off. She’s very special.”

Lielums was one of three horses that represented Renate in her official debut as a trainer at Kenilworth on February 8 and on that occasion finished second in a fillies and mares MR 81 Handicap over 1 200m.

Duke of Destiny also finished second for the yard that day and six days later, on Valentine’s Day, this four-year-old Windrush gelding provided the yard with their first victory when winning a Maiden Plate over 1 400m at Fairview under Greg Cheyne. The yard has only missed a cheque once from the eleven runners they have sent out to date.

Ernst and Engelize du Preez own Favour Stud, which is situated at Stilbaai, about half-way between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

Renate is the stud manager and trainer while her husband Jannie is the farm manager.
Jannie is an astute horseman and a draftsman by profession, so is therefore a real “all rounder”, for as well as helping with such duties as backing horses, he has also played a pivotal role in the design of some of the farm’s buildings.

Renate is an outstanding horsewomen and in her career has backed and schooled young horses to competition level for showjumping, dressage and cross country and also spent six months in England competing young horses for prominent yards in all three of those disciplines.
The Du Plessis’s eventually went on their own and one of Renate’s early riding students was the Du Preez’s daughter, Juka.

favour stud new breeding stock waiting to enter racing

Juka’s love of horses influenced her father Ernst to buy six horses at the Riethuiskraal dispersal sale and among them was Gilded Moon, who went on to win five-times including a Listed race. The “bug” had now well and truly bitten and Ernst then purchased 35 mares at the KZN Mare and Weanling Sale in 2008.

Jannie was quickly recruited to assist Renate in running the farm and helping develop the infrastructure. Today there are 55 racing stables and the horses are carefully selected for either sales or racing. The Du Plessis’ mission is not only to help breed good horses but to also prove that Favour Stud horses can race.

The key regarding which horses will stay on the farm to be trained by Renate is temperament as it is about a four hour journey by float to Cape Town and four-and-a-half to Port Elizabeth. The types that are not suited to travel are sent to the like of Gavin Smith, Yvette Bremner and Corne Spies.

Spies in fact got the training ball rolling at Favour Stud and Renate was his assistant for two-and-a-half years. She said that beside what she learnt from Spies, the like of Gavin Smith, Yvette Bremner and Justin Snaith had been “so helpful” in giving advice.

On the breeding side her “absolute hero” is John Slade of Maine Chance Farms, whom she said had taught her a tremendous amount about conformation and pedigrees.
Favour Stud chiefly support the sires that they have shares in and outside of these they like up and coming young stallions or proven ones that suit their mares.

They have shares in the like of Bold Silvano, Jay Peg, Querari, Rebel King, Horse Chestnut, Twice Over, What A Winter, King’s Apostle and Jackson. Seventh Rock and Antonius Pius are two young sires they much admire. They also really liked the late National Emblem.

They are excited about Lielums’ half-sister by Var, although Renate is not sure yet whether this “phenomenal” filly will be kept for racing or be sent to the Sales.
Renate is looking forward to the coming months in which she will begin introducing ten two-year-olds to racing and is “excited” about some “very nice” yearlings and “superb” weanlings that are waiting in the wings.

She would prefer to find her feet and have a “nice consistent year” before taking on new owners, although she said she wouldn’t turn anybody away and would also welcome those interested in taking shares in horses.

Renate concluded by saying that Lielums was currently being given a deserved week’s break.
She said, “She has proven her worth in good company and I will find another nice race for her. She is a November foal so is still young, so will get better and better, and I think she will go a mile as she gets stronger. She also loves the wet.”