Mick Goss with Gary, Marita, Madison, Georgia and Chelsea Knowles
(Photo : Annet Becker)
Breeding & Racing’s Editor-In-Chief
One of the world’s best known thoroughbred journalists is Breeding & Racing’s editor-in-chief, Gary Knowles, whom South Africans can proudly claim as one of our own sons. Twenty-one years since Gary’s voice was last heard calling the races at Turffontein, yet he’s never lost his affinities for this country, thank the Lord, and makes the pilgrimage back most years. We caught up with him, his wife Marita, and his daughters Madison, Georgia and Chelsea at Summerhill a couple of weeks ago :
“As a seventeen or eighteen-year-old I used to hang around the sales with Mick and Cheryl waiting for the horses to be sold, and I used to bug them no end. They were extremely gracious in their hospitality and looking after me. They really encouraged my interest in the industry. I’d gone to school with a chap called Gary Gorton, whose family raced one of the best horses in the Eastern Cape, a wonderful mare called Blue Nile, and I got smuggled out of Woodridge College to go and watch her race one day. She was trained by the late Stanley Greeff, and that was really one of the turning points in my interest in racing. My mother was dating a chap in Johannesburg and he had a very good friend who was an Advocate at chambers in Joburg. One day, they took me along to be their “runner” to set their bets for them and I ended up hearing a race-caller for the first time on course at Newmarket and that was when the bug really bit. I then latched onto Alison Mackenzie at Phase Four who was producing South African Racehorse and got all the publications and read them cover-to-cover. With Mick and Cheryl’s enthusiasm and encouragement, I became completely infected and then I was hooked. After emigrating to New Zealand in 1987, after my return, I was lucky enough to become a race-caller where I called with Graeme Hawkins and Peter Duffield at the four clubs (Turffontein, Newmarket, Gosforth Park and the Vaal), as well as being Media Relations Officer for Newmarket Club.
My fondest memory is being told I had to call the Germiston November Handicap for SABC TV Sport when a patch couldn’t be taken from Radio South Africa. The problem was the field was already half-loaded and I hadn’t studied the colours. Somehow the call just worked out okay with Mill Hill getting home by a nose from I Try.
In 1991 I emigrated to Australia, where I had to start all over again. After spending a year or so at the Canberra Racing Club working in a clerical role, that led me to an opportunity in Sydney where I landed up working with Racetrack Magazine, where I was for about three years. I then had a year down in Melbourne as marketing manager for Murana Stud, which at that stage was owned by Norm Carlyon, Chairman of Moonee Valley Race Club, home of the weight-for-age Gr1 Cox Plate.
About twelve years ago, I joined the staff at Breeding & Racing which was also running the New South Wales Jockey Club calendar, and I’ve been with them ever since. I’ve spent the last four years as editor-in-chief there, as well as running the Daily News, one of the world’s most widely read thoroughbred news columns.
It’s been wonderful to come out again to Summerhill and see Mick again, whom I was lucky enough to see earlier this year at the Gold Coast sales. Coming back has really reminded me of just how integral relationships are to this industry, it took me back to the very early days of that enthusiasm and encouragement that Mick and Cheryl showed me, and it’s a rewarding experience to look back at over thirty years and to realise that those embryonic beginnings are what have made me what I am in the industry today, and it’s just been super to be here again.”
“Hi I am Georgia Knowles, and I’m speaking about how today we had an awesome day. I loved it when we saw all the foals when we had a drive around. The School Of Excellence was amazing, and I found it very fascinating, and everything we did today would definitely be an achievement to my life really, to what I do at school. It shows me what way to do stuff as in the way I do it. Thank you.”
“Hi I am Madison Knowles, and this is really a nice place, and the horses are amazing, and my favourite horse would probably have to be Brave Tin Soldier. Seeing the foals was awesome, and the tour is really awesome as well. Thank you.”
“Hi, I am Chelsea, and I had a great day today. It’s been awesome seeing the horses, and it’s been a really great drive and seeing all the foals, and it’s been a really lovely time. I am so lucky to be here. Thank you.”
Published courtesy of Gary Knowles and Family