JAMES GOODMAN WITH LAST SUNDAY'S WINNER STELVIO.
Veteran trainer James Goodman has decided to call it a day. He will be handing in his trainer’s license after almost 43 years in the game. On 16 December, his horses and stable equipment will be sold lock, stock and barrel at his Summerveld stables.
Goodman was granted his license on 1 January 1975 and started training at the Vaal with just six horses. In that same year he won the equivalent of the then Grade 1 Germiston November Handicap (Charity Mile) with Profumo, a “PE chuckout” ridden by Robbie Hill.
He moved to Newmarket and later was one of the pioneering trainers at Randjesfontein, where the initial years were hard but where he enjoyed a high rate of success with runners like Duke Of Marmalade, All The Rage, Natural Force, Last Watch and Gold Tax. He trained over 40 Graded winners, including seven Grade 1s.
Seeking a more relaxed lifestyle, Goodman moved his operation to Durban in 2004 and decided on a “boutique yard” of 30 horses, which suited him very well and brought the peace of mind he desired, but the string dwindled down to between 15 and 20 in recent years.
Goodman said on Wednesday morning: “I can’t make a living anymore. Little stables can’t survive and I predict that more small trainers will give it up soon. You have to run a big stable these days to make a decent living. Costs are high and if you haven’t got a good horse or two in the stable it’s impossible to keep going.
“I’ve thrown money at it to keep going. My partner Sandra and her parents have also helped, but there are no more funds left and this is where it’s at now. Our TV show ‘Winning Ways’ lost a few sponsors and that was money that plugged a few gaps.
“For the last two years I haven’t been able to find a single new owner for my yard. Earlier this year I bought five horses at a sale and I tried to syndicate them, but I couldn’t secure even one owner to take shares, not even among existing patrons and friends. As it stands I own 55% of my own stable, so I am responsible for more than half of the feed bill to start. Nobody can keep this business afloat without financial backing.”
Goodman believes his well-publicised “caffeine” case resulted in a poor impression created in public and said: “The National Horseracing Authority’s lawyer Jonathan Witts-Hewinson went vigorously after me. They attacked me as an individual and as a trainer, making derogatory statements, accusing me of being obstructive when all I wanted to do was prove my innocence.
“While I won the case, it cost me a huge amount of money. I didn’t lie down and in the end I was vindicated, but the NHA will only be paying my costs from the High Court Application and nothing before that.
“In their commentary on the matter the NHA admits that there was a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of Witts-Hewinson, the chairman of the inquiry board but they still put claim on the illegal substance found in one of my horses.
“The fact is, my witness Dr Tobin had not been allowed to testify in the case to refute the allegations, the judge calling it ‘manifestly unfair’! Had Tobin been allowed to speak, I believe we would have won the case on merits alone, coming up against Dr Schalk de Kock of the NHA. But we were denied. This case had a major effect on my training career.”
It’s perhaps all water under the bridge now and Goodman, a man with an extraordinary cheerful and enthusiastic approach to life, will not be lost to racing forever. He will continue in his role as anchor of ‘Winning Ways’ and said: “I will stay involved in bloodstock, become an agent. I remain a horseman. I can still put my expertise to good use for clients.”
He will be missed by his colleagues at Summerveld and by punters and fans around the land and he will miss his horses, but Goodman said: “The decision is made. On 16 December I will be selling everything, from horses to bridles to the last feed bucket.” – Turf Talk.