Ken Nicol: Candice Bass-Robinson consolidated her position as one of our premier conditioners in the season just completed.
She took fifth spot on the final trainers table, one position below the position attained in her debut 2016-17 campaign.
“It was a good season. We didn’t manage to win a Grade 1 race, although Magical Wonderland went close, but overall things went well, although our KZN campaign could have been better,” she said.
Being the son of legendary trainer Mike Bass, you would think Candice always saw herself as destined for the racing life, but that wasn’t necessarily the case.
“I have been riding from the age of five, but wasn’t sure about what I wanted career-wise when I left school. Part of me would have loved to have become a doctor.
‘So I spent about seven years in the corporate world. I first worked in interior decorating, which I would describe as my second passion, and later was employed by Xerox and Walton’s Stationery as a sales rep.
“Then in my mid-twenties I came back to work with my father and have been here ever since. But don’t get me wrong, I am very happy with the career I have,” she says in a matter of fact manner.
Looking forward to the new campaign she is enthusiastic about her crop of youngsters.
“There are some very good newly turned three-year-olds. I have a couple of unraced Dynasty colts I have high hopes for, and of course our juvenile fillies did very well last season.
“Clouds Unfold is probably the pick of them. She settles in her races and has a great turn of foot. Definitely a Fillies Guineas type. Recent debut winner Varsity Lover is also very talented, as are quite a few others”.
The Bass outfit is very much a family affair.
“My brother Mark does our IT stuff, runs our website, and handles client liaison and marketing. My mother Carol also helps out with accounting and is very good with clients. My father is retired but his input is still welcomed whenever he offers it”.
When doing this interview on Tuesday morning Candice was preparing to fly to Johannesburg for the BSA National Two Year Old sale at Germiston on Thursday and Friday. She provided some input into her modus operandi at auctions.
“I try to look at everything prior to a sale. It’s not always possible though, as there are too many sales and too many horses and not enough time. Mark is our research man – he draws up a shortlist based on pedigree beforehand, and he also has quite a good eye”.
With regard to future ambitions, she admits she is “a very competitive person, and would definitely like to be champion trainer one day. But for that to happen we need to grow the business more”.
With regard to being a woman in a male dominated profession she offered the following words of wisdom.
“In general women are more compassionate, and pay more attention to detail so in that sense we could have a slightly different approach. There are also differences socially, but not so much in terms of doing the job.
“You have to be 100% dedicated and passionate as this game tends to consume your whole life. You need to be patient and be able to handle pressure.
“As women we can achieve and do as much as males, and there is no reason for women not to reach the top. You can achieve anything you want to as long as you are prepared to give it everything”.
Away from racing Candice takes part in dressage at a competitive level, and owns two Dutch warmbloods for this purpose. “It’s something I am passionate about and really enjoy,” she said.
Candice’s husband Connell Robinson works in the motor trade with BMW, and they have a son Nicholas who will be 11 in October.
Her elegant and soft spoken yet powerful persona will have a big role to play in our racing in the coming years.