(Photo : Heather Morkel)
“WINKS HAD THE HEART OF A LIONESS”
A few months back, we wrote of a grand old dame’s induction into the Land of Legends (www.landoflegends.co.za). We spoke then of Durban’s most famous hostelry, the Beverly Hills, and its affiliation with KwaZulu’s leading accommodation establishments, three of which had just been voted the nation’s best in the House and Leisure/Visa Best of SA Awards.
Today we speak of another grand old dame, this time of the human variety, who’s passed to the Elysian Fields. Winks Greene was some lady. Everything she achieved in her life, she did off her own deep reserves of determination, imagination and an insatiable energy.
When she first entered the world of physiotherapy, she had to withstand the resistance of many, particularly the veterinary profession, some of whom cast her business as some sort of witchcraft. Her only saving grace came in the belief she inspired in the then Champion trainer, Terrance Millard, and through his support her credibility and her talents came to be appreciated by a much wider audience.
Many a Shark, and any number of Springbok rugby players were rehabilitated through sessions at “The Wolds”. And many a young lady, trained and mentored by Winks, has passed that way to become her reincarnations for the future. Their roads, of course, were never quite so rocky.
In the early 1990’s, when Bruntville township on the outskirts of Mooi River, was the “hottest” spot on the political landscape and the regular scene of the shocking ritual of “necklacing”, Winks drove into the heart of it in the dead of night. Her purpose: to retrieve her beloved Jerseys, which had been rustled from her paddocks. Winks had the heart of a lioness.
At the personal level, our mutual affection arose from the common reverence we held for thoroughbreds. Winks was born a member of one of our most famous breeding dynasties, the Labistours of Dagbreek, who produced the winner of two Durban Julys in the 50’s, Gay Jane (1951) and C’est Si Bon (1954) as well as a number of runners-up, Masquerader, Labby and Doctor John. Some place, was Dagbreek. Whenever we met, our conversations turned to those days, and to the stallions, Sadri II (who also won the July,) and the great French-bred English Champion Stakes hero, Mystery IX.
Inevitably, we sat down to a glass of her favourite red tipple (it was the only thing about the Cape she liked more than her beloved Natal.) She always arranged my appointments with her to coincide with the end of the day, so that we could enjoy a natter at the end. The one thing that stood out about Winks Greene, was her generosity. She never had much money, but she’d give you the shirt off her back. She had a heart of gold.