Sep 14 2017

NIKLAAS “Ivan” van Wyk saddled his first winner as a licensed trainer when Ashley de Klerk’s six-year-old gelding Putchini won a MR68 Handicap over 1200m at Scottsville on Sunday in the capable hands of Billy Jacobson.

More than 11 years ago Van Wyk (51), who grew up loving horses, found himself a job as a groom with veteran trainer Chris Erasmus at Turrffontein. He handled top filly Ice Lily and handicappers Bo West and Shakeitupbaby and says: “I learnt most of what I know from Mr Erasmus, who still advises me today and is only a phone call away.”

Van Wyk, who’d worked himself up to the rank of assistant trainer, moved from Johannesburg to Durban in 2011 when Erasmus was put in charge of a string owned by Koos and Lorraine de Klerk of Yellow Star Stud. With a further six years under his belt, Van Wyk was ready to take over when Erasmus departed recently. Van Wyk commented: “I am thankful and privileged to have this opportunity. I’ve had support from the De Klerk family, fellow trainers and the stipes. I am keen to have more winners and things are improving.

I’ve had a frustrating time with places, but having the first winner under the belt changes everything, it brings confidence.”

Yellow Star Stud was formerly owned by Craig Ramsey, who immigrated to New Zealand in the mid-2000s. “We have excellent tracks here, a sand track of about 1400m with an 800m run-in, and two grass tracks, one has an uphill,” Van Wyk noted. Putchini is probably the best older horse in the stable, but Van Wyk has a few two-year-olds that will run in due course. “We have three nice youngsters by Kildonan, they should come to hand soon and will race as two-year-olds,” he said.

Van Wyk only see his Cape Town family a few times a year, but they are in full support of a man who has given heart and soul to the game and is now in a position to go from strength to strength.

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