Buddy MarounBuddy MarounThe South African racing world has paid fulsome tribute to Kevin “Buddy” Maroun, the talented and accomplished Highveld trainer who died this week. Buddy passed away in hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina, after falling ill with septicemia during a horse-buying trip. He turned 51 on Sunday, a day before his untimely death. Buddy is survived by his wife Claudia and their 15-month old son Aiden, and an older daughter Leolita.

(Thanks to industry websites for some of the following comments.)

Clyde Basel, CEO of the Racing Association: Buddy Maroun hailed from a well known and passionate racing family. His interest in the game was nurtured when he was an assistant trainer to his father Robert Maroun. In his early twenties Buddy decided to go it alone and rented stables at Randjesfontein. His forte was training champion sprinters, and his top horses included Golden Loom, Fovs Favourite, All Will Be Well, Follow The Falcon and Highland Knight. Buddy’s talents on racecourses will be sadly missed by members of the Racing Association. RA chairman Larry Wainstein and I had a wonderful relationship with Buddy; he would give up time whenever we needed to chat to him. He was a consummate professional. He changed conventional ideas about running horses weekly, and even went as far as running them two days in a row if he felt it was necessary. We don’t believe the industry will ever see another Buddy Maroun.”

Louis Goosen, assistant to Buddy in recent years: “Buddy and I shared many special moments together and went through ups and downs. He was a special person and the best horseman I ever worked with. He loved horses, he loved racing. I am bitterly sad.”

Trainer Mike de Kock: “Buddy was a master of his trade, a world class trainer who had no equal as a conditioner of sprinters. He was probably the most hardworking trainer in South Africa and he never got involved in the politics of racing, doing his own thing and concentrating on his horses.”

SA Horseracing.com: “Maroun was a genuine horseman and was famous for keeping his horses fit and well by running them as often as possible, not common with other trainers in his generation in South Africa. Well liked and astute, he will be missed by all in South African horseracing. He has left us all with memories for a lifetime through his horses and racing will miss this talented man.”

Charl Pretorius: “A supremely talented horseman, Buddy was long recognised as the ‘undisputed king of sprinters’… He was terrific in getting the very best out of every horse, masterfully judging weights, race figures and later merit ratings. He placed his horses with an uncanny shrewdness, making the majority of his individual sprinters multiple winners, even those with moderate ability. “The ‘Buddy Maroun factor’ was often referred to by his rival trainers and a legion of supporters, who stood astonished for many years as Buddy lined up his sprint machines time and time again to win, sometimes twice a week, often improving within a matter of days and winning even more convincingly despite huge allocations of extra weight.”

Trainer Alec Laird: “Buddy was well respected in the training ranks. He was a no-nonsense type of guy and his death comes as a big shock to us.”

Trainer Joe Soma: “Buddy was a magic trainer. He kept to himself, respected others and the loss of his skills is a big blow.”

Racing columnist ‘Mark Anthony’: “As we mourn and reflect on the passing of an outstanding racing practitioner, we can at least celebrate his considerable achievements in the sport that he loved so much and gave his life to. Buddy Maroun may be gone, but his exploits will live long in the memory and his name is firmly and indelibly woven into the fabric of South African racing lore.”

Outgoing Phumelela Racing Executive Graeme Hawkins: “[Buddy was] one of the great horseman of the modern era. South Africa has lost one of its greatest trainers under tragic circumstances. He will be sorely missed.”

Friend John Finlayson: “He had a work rate second to none, I personally saw him riding close to 50 horses on an average morning… I am most upset with this unexpected tragedy.”

Wiseowl (African Betting Clan website contributor): “Why not rename the Computerform Sprint in his honour?”

Magiclips (ABC): “I have fond memories of many a day spent at the Germiston track with Buddy and various patrons - including the occasion of Golden Loom’s first win in the Computaform Sprint. He tried so hard to hide his pre-race nerves (Goofy was odds-on favourite), but it didn’t fool anybody! After the race was another matter…one of those memories that will live forever.

”It will be a travesty indeed if we can’t get at least some other race named after Buddy Maroun, if not the Computaform Sprint.”

Hanif Manjoo: An honest gentleman; better as a horseman. Incomparable. Go well Buddy. Ironic that your successes were viewed with so much scepticism and cynicism in some quarters. I suppose that goes with the game.

The Zackey Family: Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Ivan and Desiree Pickering: Sincerest condolences to Buddy’s family. Great loss to racing.

Craig Strydom: The Strydom family extend condolences to the Maroun family. My father (Bill) and mother (Carol) were true Buddy supporters and he brought tremendous enjoyment to their racing – especially with Fanyana (a horse Buddy admired for his courage). We will miss you Buddy.

Kevin Pillay, manager, KZN Bookmakers’ Society: Buddy was a master conditioner, and was always recognised for his ‘sprint machines’. The KwaZulu-Natal Bookmakers’ Society and its members, would like to convey their heartfelt condolences to the Maroun family. Michael ‘Muis’ Roberts: A tragic loss to the training ranks. Buddy, I will miss our little chats on my visits to Gauteng - a man of few but informative words. Our condolences go out to his family.

LR Mulligan, Cape Town: I didn’t know Buddy personally but, being a great follower of racing, I’ve always felt a sense of knowing with this awesome man - as one does with great sporting personalities. Buddy will always be remembered as the greatest trainer of sprint race horses SA has ever produced.

Extract from SAHorseracing.com