Stipendiary steward Rakesh Jeewanlall, 44, married to Yashini (a bookkeeper) and father of two lovely children, Suman (16) and Shaeen (9), has come a long way since his first July handicap in 1990. The former architect from Croftdene, Chatsworth, followed a career in Architecture and Structural Engineering. On graduating he worked for Mike Patterson Building Designer from 1987 to 1995 and thereafter Tobbell Stretch and Associates from 1997 to 2007 as an associate partner. Rakesh enjoyed 20 years of a very successful career and has been directly involved in some landmark projects like the Rolling Hills Retirement Village in Umhlanga, Alpine Heath Resort and Conference Centre – Drakensberg, Mt. Edgecombe and Zimbali Golf Estate just to mention a few.
In the late 80’s during his interesting and successful architectural career, horseracing became his hobby and a means of relaxation. Being a person who takes pride and passion in whatever he does, Rakesh began to spend time and understand the whole racing system. This passionate individual became a keen student of form studying, understanding the weight system and the merit rating of horses. The breeding side of the sport of horseracing also got his attention and he believes that the horses breeding will determine the distance the horse will be best competitive at. Rakesh was very fortunate to have had his partnership racing colours approved in 1995, but raced with not much success. Rakesh strongly believed as a young man, breaking into any part of horseracing at that stage was very difficult.
With the passion of horseracing still in him, he had his own individual colours approved in 2000. With a keener eye and better knowledge of the sport, he acquired shares in many horses with trainers Doug Cambell and Patrick Lunn. Jumeira Jane trained by Doug Campbell purchased for R 35000 ended up winning four races before retiring to stud and Syrian Sonja trained by Patrick Lunn purchased for R 40000 ended up winning four races including the Group 3 Strelitzia Stakes for 2 year old fillies over 1200m at Scottsville Racecourse beating Sally Bowles. At that stage Rakesh had shares in six horses and enjoyed the ownership of the thoroughbred racehorse.
With 20 years of a successful career and having established all the necessary material needs, Jeewanlall became interested in following a career in the horseracing industry. He was partially successful when a spot became available for a Tellytrack- presenter, with 250 applicants
country- wide applying, thereafter reduced to just 10 and further reduced to just 2. Greatly honoured
to have been one of the two persons left, the other person is the current local presenter, Deez Dayanand, he enjoyed spending a whole month training with veteran television presenter Martin Locke, who at the very outset mentioned that that was a Big Brother event and that just one of them would be successful. As the saying goes, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, and a position became available on the KZN Stipendiary Board in 2007. Rakesh applied for the position and the rest is history.
Currently holding a position as the only Stipendiary Steward of Indian origin on the KZN Board, his aim is to maintain the integrity of the sport of horseracing as constituted under the Rules of the National Horseracing Authority of Southern Africa.
A typical day in this amazing man’s day would start off by getting to the training track by 06:00. He moves from one trainer’s ring to another occasionally stopping to discuss issues of concern. He keeps a close eye out to check that all the horses are sound and that they are being cared for properly. He also checks to see that all the riders are wearing the required safety gear. This often gives him a good knowledge of the horses, the trainers, the riders, the grooms and everybody who is involved in the training and preparing of horses for races. To add to his hectic lifestyle, he has to pass the horses through the starting stalls with the starter and vet at 07.30 to 08.30. The starter or stipe will then issue a starting stall certificate and every horse passing through stalls must be checked and identified properly against the horse passport and horses microchip number to be verified with that in his passport.
After the stalls, random stable visits are undertaken; thereafter he heads to the office and once at his desk, he must begin preparing for the next race meeting, His job is to check that the horses entered to run are actually eligible to run in the races for which they are entered. As a stipendiary steward Rakesh is required to conduct and or take part in inquires into alleged contraventions of the Rules. Inquires are conducted on a basis similar to tribunals with the objective of establishing the truth and with the authority to impose a suitable penalty when appropriate. The stipendiary board undertakes and adjudicates a race-meeting from start to finish on any race day.
When asked if he would advise others to consider Stipendiary Steward as a career, Rakesh firmly answered, “Not really, because I believe one has to have a passion for horseracing to work in the industry, but however a career in Architecture and Structural Engineering will be one to follow as they are directly related to the building industry. And the building industry is representative of the growth of a country’s economy. Both careers require discipline and dedication.”
This self- mentored individual has achieved much by self- motivation and determination and a drive to better his life. Dedicated and always focused on what he does, Rakesh beleives that he is living his dreams. He always wanted to be an Architect, to be part of some sort of landmark which he has achieved. His hobby and passion for horseracing has now become his career. With a big smile on his face, Rakesh says “I am living my dreams.”
Food: Meat and seafood dishes, crab and prawn curry as well as braaivleis.
Bollywood Star: Amitabh Bachchan
Holiday Destination: Island of Mauritius