INVESTEC’S co-founder and managing director Bernard Kantor has been a patron of Mike de Kock’s stable since 2002. Bernard and his partners, including Larry Nestadt, have enjoyed a spectacular 2010 racing in South Africa with the likes of Equus Horse Of The Year Irish Flame and Perana.
He has also owned (or part-owned) and raced such good horses as Summer Cup winner Ingleside, 12-time winner Sovereign Seas, Palace Line, Falstaff and talented fillies Moon Dazzle and Angelina.
Bernard has won races in Dubai, Australia, Singapore, America, England, Italy, Germany and South Africa, with several major trophies to his name, including the 2005 Dubai Duty Free with Right Approach. He attributes his feats to ‘’luck”, saying, “I can’t put it down to anything else – and surrounding myself with people who know. That’s always been one of my golden rules at Investec: forget your ego. Surround yourself with people who are better than you. It’s easy to look clever once you’ve done that. The team is more important than any individual.’’
Bernard’s interest in racing was stoked by his brother who held a bookmaking licence. He told Marcus Armytage of The Telegraph in May 2009: “It always interests me, though, why you can take a family and find only one member burdened with this passion and others not. It’s been my hobby for 35 years.”
He once had winners on three different continents in one day and his penchant for the offspring of Zafonic resulted in Count Dubois, now a leading stallion in South Africa, and Dupont who, in the space of 10 days, won the German and Italian Guineas. Both horses were trained by Willy Haggas at Newmarket.
Bernard combines his business expertise and pleasure as a director of Phumelela Gaming & Leisure and in 2009 signed up the UK’s world-famous Epsom Derby under the Investec banner.
“We owe Epsom a lot,” he said. “This is an unbelievable opportunity. When we first came here no one had ever heard of Investec from the tip of Africa. The first thing we did was try to secure the autumn internationals at Twickenham. We also sponsor the media centre at Lord’s which doesn’t quite get the same visibility but it is to the right target market.
“I do feel hugely responsible and hope our judgement is not wrong but as a racing lover, how can you go wrong with it?” he added. “Everything, particularly with stallions, comes down to who won the Derby. Manchester United sent one of their shirts with Investec on the front recently and said it would cost £15 million. I’d prefer to do Epsom 20 times over.”
Investec employs 5,500 people in 14 countries, was set up in South Africa by Bernard and some colleagues in 1978.
“There were five of us, four chairs, one of which the typist had to have, and three phones,” he recalled. “In the morning the last one in had to go out on the street selling leasing facilities to the professional market, we had no money and no balance sheet to speak of, but what we did have was a lot of stupidity and courage.”
He is in awe of Mike de Kock’s international success: “Michael will take a horse and make it better. His horses are supremely fit and he squeezes every bit extra out of them.
“He has had more winners for me than anybody else. He’s a talented genius in his field! I have a huge respect for him and rate him and Patrick Shaw among the best in the world.’’
With his racing, breeding and business interests in racing, Bernard has not lost sight of the longer-term prospects of the many horses that are bred and raced in South Africa and he is fond of Bev Seabourne of the Highveld Horse Care Unit.
“There is an angel amongst us, who we very seldom recognise – Bev,’’ he said. “In a sense she has done more for my conscience and horseracing than I could ever thank her for. We owners enjoy the successes and pleasures and she suffers with the misery and pain of our enjoyment. I believe we can never do enough for her and what she stands for.’’ |