The South African racing industry is in mourning after the death on Wednesday of popular thoroughbred owner and breeder Chris Gerber.
Gerber, 53, passed away due to heart failure while recovering from a severe case of malaria.
Mark Currie, a Kenilworth Racing Board Member and lifelong friend and colleague of Gerber who served with him on the Racing Association, described him as a giant in the horse racing industry.
“Chris was intensely passionate about everything that was important to him – his family, his business ventures and of course racing.
“He was particularly passionate about the administration of the racing industry and never wanted anything for himself. He gave much more to racing than he ever took out. He even donated his director’s fees to the Highveld Horse Care Unit, an equine welfare organisation.”
Chris also played an instrumental role in the creation of a sustainable structure for Kenilworth Racing.
“His love and passion for horses was quite remarkable. There are many people in the racing industry who can learn from the great example Chris set. We will miss his passion and his sound judgment.
“Racing will never be the same again.”
Chris van Niekerk, chairman of Kenilworth Racing, added: “Gerber played a key role in the horse breeding and racing industry and his presence will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his family.”
Gerber has a number of horses all over the country but the majority of them have been trained by Alec Laird. He is also the owner of unbeaten Rainbow Bridge, who is trained in Cape Town by Eric Sands
In 2003 he teamed up with veterinarian Bennie van der Merwe to start Moutonshoek stud farm.
Chris was the son of Springbok rugby player Mickey Gerber, but, despite the rugby genes, he grew up going to the races with his father and has had horses in his blood all his life.
He attended King Edward School in Johannesburg, did an undergraduate degree at Stellenbosch and completed his post-grad studies at UCT to become a chartered accountant.
He described himself as being in the fuel retail business and managed the national Engen One Stop chain.