“I don’t know what I’ll do without horses!’

She’s been called the ‘Lady Behind The Legend’, being married to high-profile international trainer Mike de Kock and keeping him standing through his jet-setting ride when raiding 13 racing countries with runners in the 2000s. But Diane de Kock is a star in her own right, a top horse lady and a deeply caring individual who has launched various philanthropic endeavours. Her “Know Your Status” drive at Randjesfontein, in which nearly half the workforce at the training centre was tested for HIV-Aids, won her an Equus Special Achievement Award in 2012.

Horses are Diane’s obsession and have been forever. Her dad, Johnny Cawcutt, was South African champion jockey twice and bagged 16 Cape titles, and Diane herself rode two winners in Ladies Challenge races back in the 1990s. Diane has long been in charge of all the De Kock stable’s young horses – she’s taken in groups of up to 40 or more every season, and they graduate individually from her two-year-old barn to Mike’s main stable when she believes they are ready. Her days start at 6am, alongside the rest of the work force at their big stable, and she said: “Once we get the young horses going forward confidently and they’re bored with paddock life, I start taking them to track in the afternoons when it’s nice and quiet. We take them to the trotting track and hack there for about a month, and then they start going to the track for their full pre-training.”

But when they leave to race elsewhere or overseas, she gets sad. “It’s like saying goodbye to my kids”. Their own kids have done very well. Mathew, just turned 30, has made big progress in a partnership with trainer Robbie Griffiths in Australia, and artist-child Kirsten has moved to the United States where she married her American boyfriend. Diane and Mike understandably miss both kids badly but there is some consolation because her equine children are always nearby. “I love them all. They’re my life and I don’t know what I’d do without them.”

Here is our Q and A with Diane de Kock:

  1. Full name? Diane De Kock
  2. Date of Birth? 16/1/65
  3. Steak or sushi? Sushi
  4. Superstitions? Bad luck dresses
  5. Fav Holiday Destination? Mauritius
  6. Which: BMW or Merc? Merc
  7. Who inspires you the most? My children
  8. Big night out or quiet night in? Big night!
  9. Left-handed or right-handed? Right handed
  10. Most memorable day in racing? Too many to single one out.
  11. What would you rather be, horseperson or charity worker? Horse person
  12. What annoys you most? Moody people
  13. Funniest person you have ever met? Michael de Kock
  14. What is your biggest phobia? Snakes
  15. Cape Town or Johannesburg? Cape Town
  16. Most embarrassing moment? I forget peoples’ names at inappropriate times!
  17. Colts or fillies? Colts
  18. Keeping Mdk in check: Scream or slap? Neither works
  19. Best horse ever worked with? Privileged to work with many but one of my favourites was Soft Falling Rain.
  20. Proudest Achievement? My children, and receiving an Equus Special Achievement Award
  21. Economy or business class? Business
  22. Jockeys: Whips or no whips? Whips
  23. One thing to improve racing for everyone? Fix the NHRA
  24. Your star sign? Capricorn
  25. Bath or shower? Shower
  26. Read or Netflix? Read
  27. Would you rather ask for permission or ask for forgiveness? Forgiveness
  28. Nominate someone for our Q&A next? Mike de Kock

Two best young horses to watch this season: Desert Miracle & Safe Passage

Chosen charity for readers to donate to: Animal Anti Cruelty Cape Town

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