Jack Milner: The death of trainer Leon Erasmus in a motor car accident on Sunday has left a pall over South African horseracing.
Erasmus died in an accident near Randfontein on Sunday when travelling with his wife, Marie, daughter Tharien de Bruin, son-in-law Rudie de Bruin and their 18-month-old son Kiaan. They were taken to a hospital in Randfontein.
Marie Erasmus and her grandson were discharged yesterday.
Tharien had surgery this morning and is currently in high care, while her husband appears to be unhurt.
The family had been attending a baby shower in Randfontein and were travelling back to their home in Deneysville when the accident happened.
Leon Erasmus was born on 25 April 1960 in Randfontein and attended Randfontein High School. He was not particularly interested in school and admitted he would walk past the school gates in the morning and go to the stables where trainers TL Steyn and Nic Claassen would allow him to work in their yards.
He was born into a racing family and described his father as the best horseman he knew. He worked as diesel mechanic but then Ray Botha approached Erasmus to train for him. He was given his trainer’s licence in 1990 and his first winner was Abstracter in Bloemfontein.
Possibly the best horse he trained was Little Hampton who was a star sprinter on the Vaal sand and had a race named after him when he retired from racing.
He also admitted that he was not a keen reader. In fact, he only read two books continuously – the Bible and Computaform.
He is survived by his wife Marie, sons David (36) and Johan (31), and daughter Tharien (27). Funeral arrangements will be announced later.