Basie Viljoen and his wife Suzette have taken South African racing by storm. They have over 100 horses in training, both passionate about the sport, but racing in Suzette’s name and blue-and-pink silks – pink for girls, blue for the Bulls, their favourite rugby team.
Suzette was 119th on the National Owners’ Table in South Africa in 2018/19 with seven winners. That became a 19th spot with 23 winners in 2019/20 and presently, with 37 winners and R3,1-million in stakes for the 2020/1 season, they have a slender lead over current champion owner Chris van Niekerk at the top of the log.
Whether Suzette wins her first title or finishes in the Top 5, this will be a phenomenal achievement and rise to prominence for the humble cattle farmers from South Africa’s North West province who have come to the fore from literally nowehere to set an example in a terrible time for racing in the region.
They have other business interests too, and Basie is involved in diamond mining. Suzette often pays tribute to her husband, the backbone behind their extravagant racing interests, and their continued investments have yielded a star filly this season in Justin Snaith-trained Captain’s Ransom, a powerhouse three-year-old already being compared to former Southern African world champion racer, Ipi Tombe. (They also own runners in partnership with the IRC).
Pic: Suzette and Basie Viljoen, with jockey Khanya Sakayi. (Pic: Candiese Lenferna).
JOAO DA MATA caught up with Basie for a quick Q and A:
1: Full Name? Hendrik Petrus Jacobus Viljoen (“Basie)
2: Date Of Birth? 13 November 1969
3: Sushi or Steak? Steak
4: Mood after horse running unplaced? I’m used to it, no worries!
5: How do you celebrate a winner? A video call from Warren Lenferna
6: Superstitions? A hate the Number One Draw
7: Fav Holiday Destination? Anywhere where I can see Table Mountain
8: Beer or Wine: Alcohol free, anything
9: Would you rather be a Diamond Miner or a Pop Star? I love what I do!
10: Who do you look up to? My boys.
11: Left-handed or right-handed? I’m right-handed.
12: Rolex or Breitling? Breitling, Suzy and I have a ‘his’ and ‘hers’.
13: Biggest diamond you have ever mined? Still Looking for one!
14: What hair Gel do you use? Something About Mary 😄
15: Favourite Rugby Team? The Bulls.
16: Favourite Sport? Rugby.
17: Worst Ever Round of Golf and where? Windy days at Wild Coast Sun
18: Funniest person in Racing you have met? Trainer Zietsman Oosthuizen, when collecting a trophy.
19: Favourite Racecourse? Greyville.
20: Your star sign? Scorpio.
21: Pavorotti or Eminem? Eminem.
22: Bath or Shower? Bath
22: Read or Netflix? Reader
23: Would you rather ask for permission or ask for forgiveness? Forgiveness.
24: Horses in your string to watch?
1. Paris Rix
Charity Of Choice:
The Coastal Horse Care Unit, situated in Cato Ridge, is a Rescue, Rehabilitation and rehoming centre for horses who are abused or neglected. See https://www.coastalhorsecareunit.org.za/