At 24 years of age, Adam Marcus is currently the youngest trainer in South Africa. Of course he is the son of the legendary Basil Marcus who himself excelled as both jockey and trainer. Adam has huge respect for his father who taught him the most valuable life lesson that there isn’t a substitute for hard work and determination. Adam started off with a mere 6 horses at his Milnerton base in March 2012 and owing to some decent results, he now has 41 horses under his care. He was associated with some brilliant horses when he worked for his dad, most notably South Africa’s highest earner, Jay Peg. He trains for some of the country’s prominent owners and is humbled by the opportunity. Adam rates the smashing looking four-year old daughter of Ashaawes, PRICELESS JEWEL as his best at the moment and she has achieved 5 wins from her 11 starts to date. She contests this Saturday’s Grade 3 Victress Stakes over 1800m at Kenilworth and is sure to love the long run-in of the summer course. Her conditioner has mentioned that her main aim for the Cape season is the Grade 1 Paddock Stakes so it could pay dividends to follow her progress over the weekend. WINNING FORM, HOLLYWOODBETS.NET and SPORTING POST will certainly be following Adam’s career with keen interest.
What is your name?
Adam Nadan Marcus.
What is your star sign and birthdate?
My star sign is Pisces and I was born on the 20th February 1989 (24 years old).
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Durban and left for Hong Kong with the family at 18 months old. I grew up mainly in Hong Kong but spent 4 years in England prior to moving back home to South Africa.
Where do you live?
I live in Atlantic Beach, Melkbosstrand, Cape Town.
Tell us about your family?
It’s just the four of us; my Dad (Basil), Mom (Debbie) and my elder brother Glenn.
Do you have a ‘nickname’?
Most people call me Ad, Ads or Adi.
Roast Lamb or fillet steak.
Cola Tonic & lemonade.
I listen to a bit of everything, mainly what’s recent and pumping.
Besides racing I really enjoy cricket and golf.
Favourite soccer team?
I am not a big soccer fan but I always support Bafana Bafana and England.
Favourite holiday destination?
I have a soft spot for Asia as it was my second home, so I would say Phuket.
Who is your favourite author?
I am not a huge reader of novels but I do enjoy reading literature and research on horses.
What book are you reading at the moment?
I am reading the Winning Form, I always go to the Who’s Hot Section and see what chance Monty gives my horses. He is on fire and I respect his selections.
Which is the characteristic about yourself that you like most?
I pride myself in being hard working, enthusiastic and honest.
Is there anything the public don’t know about Adam Marcus that they would be interested to know?
I am a bit of a perfectionist.
Where did you go to school?
I started my schooling in Hong Kong at the Japanese International School, then moved to England where I attended Cheam Hawtreys and The Oratory School. Upon returning to South Africa I completed Matric at Parklands College.
What did you do on completion of your schooling?
After school I went to Dubai for work experience with Herman Brown Jr. where I was fortunate to be with Jay Peg and Desert Links. Luckily I always wanted to be a trainer so I was able to follow my passion straight out of school.
You come from a family deeply involved in horseracing. As the son of Basil Marcus, did you ever want to be a jockey and follow in his footsteps?
I would have loved to have ridden. When I was very young, I was small and there was talk about me following in Dad’s footsteps but unfortunately I hit a growth spurt. It is fantastic that I am able to continue the Marcus name by being a trainer.
How old were you when you joined your father’s yard?
I was involved in the yard from the very first day my Dad started training, at the age of 14. I was at the yard every afternoon after school and on the weekends.
What do you consider the most important lesson you have learnt from your dad either by what he has told you or taught you by example?
My Dad has taught me a lot about training and about life. The biggest lesson I have learnt is that there is no substitute for hard work and determination. Dad’s dedication to racing is unparalleled, and having grown up around his work ethic it has moulded me into the person I am today.
Did your father start you from the bottom up?
Yes of course, I started as a groom, then in the feed room and a work rider prior to learning the intricate details of training. I feel that this is the only way to learn the industry. Furthermore I gained respect from the stable staff who worked for my Dad. Many of the guys I grew up with are now part of my team.
Did you find it easy fitting into the lifestyle of training horses?
Having grown up in racing I have found it quite an easy transition.
How many horses were there in the yard when you started training?
I started with 6 horses in March 2012.
Where are your stables based?
Milnerton, Cape Town.
How many horses do you have now?
I currently have 41 horses in the yard.
Have there been any big changes that have taken place in training since you started out?
I feel that there is a lot of energy around South African racing at the moment. There are huge plans throughout the country. The most positive aspect of the industry is that there is an exciting group of young guys coming through the training ranks. The future is looking very bright.
Tell us about the team which assists you now?
I am very fortunate to have such a professional team behind me. My Dad plays a vital role in the stable although all the decisions are left up to me. My vet, Dr. Manfred Hanni and Farrier Raymond Heneke, who are also very close friends play an important part in the stables success. My two head staff, Ernest and Nelson, are incredible horsemen and they complete the Marcus Racing team.
Your elder brother, Glenn, is passionate about racing and is very involved with all that happens in your yard. Do you have a working relationship with him?
Glenn is not only my big brother but also my best friend. He is my biggest supporter. Through Be In The Race we have a very good working relationship and his knowledge of the racing industry is always valuable in the Marcus Racing operation.
Tell us about his syndicate “Be In The Race”?
The Be In The Race syndicate has really taken off. Be In The Race currently owns five horses in the yard. It allows people to buy small percentages in all five horses. Glenn has owners in the syndicate from throughout the world. It is a phenomenal company and fantastic for the growth of racing. The website is world class. www.beintherace.co.za
Which was the first feature race you won and what horse did you win with?
My first taste of feature success was in the Byerley Turk Gr. 3 with Polished Steel whilst looking after the yard for my Dad in Durban. I have been very fortunate to work alongside top horses such as Jay Peg, Desert Links, Majestic Sun, Gone Wild, Red Rake, Tassie Belle, Ato, Flax and Clear For Action during the time with my Dad.
Which do you think are the outstanding horses in your yard right now?
I have managed to develop a very good team of young horses in a short period of time. Priceless Jewel; one of my original 6 horses is a very special filly and she has a bright future.
With the Cape and Gauteng seasons now hotting up do you have any of the major feature races earmarked for your horses?
Priceless Jewel will be running in the Victress Stakes. Her main aim being the Paddock Stakes. It’s an honour to have a potential runner in one of South Africa’s most prestigious races so early in my career.
You have four runners at Kenilworth on Saturday. Please can you give us your comments on your respective runners?
Race 1: IGUASU (8) – He is having his first run after being gelded. He will show improvement on his Durban form but will need more ground in the future.
Race 4: CHASING DREAMS (9) – She is a smart filly and I am expecting her to be competitive. She will enjoy the turn and jumps from a reasonable draw. Supreme Sunset looks the filly to beat.
Race 5: SOUK (10) – Souk won her maiden very well three runs back. She is trying the Kenilworth turn for the first time and jumps from pole position. I am expecting her to run a good race on Saturday.
Race 8: PRICELESS JEWEL (5) – She has won two good races since returning from Durban. The race on Saturday is part of her prep for the Paddock Stakes. I have a lot of respect for Jet Aglow who has had a tremendous Champions season and won a great race last time out. It will be a very competitive renewal of the Victress Stakes.
The opening of the new polytrack in PE is a really exciting event. Do you have any horse or horses you would like to race there?
The polytrack is a revolutionary surface in horseracing. I recently had Cask that ran 4th in the Algoa Cup. I would like to see a polytrack in Cape Town in the near future.
The cost of owning a horse in training is getting more and more expensive. Have you come up with any good ideas to cut costs?
I feel that Syndicates have a vital role in the future of racing. I also believe there will be a market for Micro Ownership (larger syndicates that are currently popular in Japan). Horseracing is the only sport that a member of the public can participate in directly. It does not matter what percentage you own, the winning feeling is priceless.
Many training yards now have treadmills, hot walkers, swimming pools and other training aids. How many of these do you have?
I have had experience with all the above mentioned and they are always beneficial as a training aid. I will be looking at buying a treadmill in the near future.
Which are the jockeys who ride the most work for you and do you have a stable jockey?
Greg Cheyne rides a lot of track work for me but currently I do not have a stable jockey. Richard Fourie and I are very close friends and I try to use him when he’s available.
What would you say is the race you most want to win in the near future?
I would like to win the July. It’s the only cup missing in the house.
You are a professional trainer and make your living by it but what else keeps you passionate about being a trainer?
The horses are the reason why I get up in the morning. I train for some incredible owners and their enjoyment and passion is a huge motivation for me.
If, for any reason, you could no longer be a trainer what would you like to do?
I wouldn’t leave the industry, racing is my life.
Although you were very young when your father, Basil, rode in Hong Kong do you have any ideas from the racing there which could be used to bring racegoers back to the courses?
Hong Kong is so successful because they treat everyone, from the biggest owners to the smallest racing fan, so well. Everyone is a stake holder in the great sport of horseracing. Racing is an entertainment product and as an industry we need to showcase our sport. South African racing has exported as many great international jockeys, trainers and horses as golfers, swimmers and athletes. Racing does not have to let go of tradition but realise the need to modernise tradition.
How interested in the breeding side of racing are you?
I am very interested in breeding and I am learning about the industry daily.
When buying yearlings what are the most important things you look for?
To me its all about the walk, conformation and athleticism. I am learning from my Dad, he is a great judge. Not many people can say they have chosen South Africa’s highest earning horse of all time.
Are there any stallions whose progeny you look at first?
I do not tie myself down to any stallion as I like to look at the individual. But I do have a soft spot for Jay Peg, Count Dubois and Ashaawes.
Do you ever have a bet on a horse or is your enjoyment limited to training the winners?
Yes, I have a small bet, from time to time, but nothing comes close to the thrill of training a winner.
What short/long term ambitions do you have for yourself?
I live and train with the philosophy that I can only put my head on the pillow at night knowing that I have done my best that day. My career is going extremely well and I am continuously striving towards greater success. Being the youngest trainer in South Africa is an exciting position to be in.
Apart from your father who would you say has had the most influence on your career to date?
There are many people to thank for where I am now. The late Mrs. Oppenheimer was an incredible lady. When I decided to take out my trainer’s licence she was the first one to say that she would support me. If it was not for her belief in me I would not have been able to realise my dream. Bernard Kantor was a great supporter of my Dad’s and being able to train for him is truly special. Winning with Kirumbo the other week was very special. Kirumbo is by Count Dubois who Dad rode to victory in the Gran Criterium for Bernard and out of Katherine who was my Dads first winner as a trainer, also for Bernard. This was a moment I will never forget. I am blessed to have a wonderful client base and I am truly grateful for all the support they have given me. My whole family has been so supportive, from my Uncle’s, Auntie’s, Grand Parents and Cousins. They are always the first to message me after a winner. A close family is a large part of success.
As a very eligible bachelor do you have a steady girlfriend?
Currently I am single but my phonebook is not all clients!!
Gavin van Zyl
Marco van Rensburg
Chris van Niekerk