Former Summerveld-based trainer Chesney van Zyl has landed the position of private trainer to luxury jewellery and watch retailer James Kennedy in Australia and as an accolade to his horsemanship skills he was handpicked by the legendary “horse whisperer” Monty Roberts.
Van Zyl will be based at a new training centre and racecourse called Pakenham Racing Club, which is about an hour outside of Melbourne.
This brand new facility was built by Racing Victoria in response to overcrowding in the city which prevented the expansion of existing training centres and the building of new ones.
Kennedy Racing has spared no expense in an operation whose key characteristic will be Monty Roberts’ influence on the development of the horses.
All of the staff have been handpicked by Roberts, including an understudy who has been with him for eleven years.
After applying for the job Chesney was first interviewed by James Kennedy and then by Monty Roberts.
Chesney’s father Gavin believes it was Chesney’s impressive CV which secured him the position.
Gavin said, “Chesney did a sterling job training our horses in Johannesburg with multiple Group success. He is also an accomplished rider who work rides his own horses and he won a Workrider’s race at Turffontein in 2010 on River Lodge. He is also a qualified farrier, and an accomplished one. He is an all round horseman.”
Kennedy commissioned Roberts to be part of the early schooling and breaking in of all of his horses.
The Roberts methods are new to Chesney but he is being tutored by the legend in the breaking in of horses and the ground work. He will always be working closely with Roberts.
Kennedy has bought “very nice” young horses and will grow the operation year by year.
The facilities Chesney has includes hot and cold water showers for the horses, an industrial vacuum for the stables, rubberised stables and barn, his own starting stalls to school horses in, a horse walker, a lunging arena and cameras in every box.
Gavin said, “The whole operation is based on the well-being and schooling and grounding of the horses being absolutely perfect. Chesney has a team and he is the head trainer. It is a wonderful opportunity to start afresh and he will be able to concentrate on training horses without the stress of having to find new owners and running the yard’s finances.”
Kennedy and Roberts are looking for a stable jockey and at present it seems a suitable one might be sourced from the Laffit Pincay jockey training academy in America.
Chesney will reside in a brand new house with his wife and young son and daughter.
Gavin said, “They are very happy and I am sure they will make a success of it.”
By David Thiselton