Students of literature will recall that it was on Bosworth Field that England’s good king had offered up his kingdom for a horse, and if it weren’t for the fact that the auctioneer missed his bid, we’d have no Princes William and Harry today.
It’s now a part of local racing lore that to induce him to speak at the International Breeders’ Conference in Cape Town, the organisers laid on for the first leg, a chopper, and for the second, a private jet, to extract Mick Goss from his Wild Coast lair during the family’s annual holiday in the remotest reaches of the continent.
His helicopter pilot that day was a young Pondo gentleman, Diko Magoba, who like Mick had grown up in the Umngazi neighbourhood in the vicinity of Port St. Johns. In his pre-adolescent days, Diko served as a herd boy for his dad’s horses and cattle, and for a two litre coke and a pie, his best days involved looking after Pat Goss’ Cessna Caravan at the Port St. Johns airstrip. The once-a-week arrival of the aircraft fuelled a burning ambition in the kid’s heart to one day fly “that” machine.
Via a first vocation at the wheel of a taxi and then as an ambulance driver, Diko’s path crossed that of former Protea’s opening batter Boeta Dippenaar, who donated 30 helicopter hours towards Diko’s piloting lessons, and viola! we have a herd-boy-turned-chopper-pilot. A couple of hours in Mick’s company has turned many a benign businessman into a racehorse owner, and it didn’t take longer than the hop from Lambazi to Umthatha to convince the one-time jockey at local gymkhanas to subscribe for a place in this year’s intake at the School of Equine Management Excellence.
You’ve got to love this game to forego a chopper for a horse, but if you have it in your heart, you’ll understand what it means. And while Diko knows that the odds at Summerhill will not be quite as daunting as those confronting Richard III at Bosworth Field, it’s a sign of the “pull” of the Thoroughbred that he’d forfeit a career at the controls of a Puma for a life in the fastest lane of them all.