Tribute to Alec Forbes
The horse racing community was shocked and deeply saddened by the untimely passing of jockey and true gentleman, Alec Forbes…
An ”absolute gentleman” was the common thread when the shocked racing community reminisced about the late Alec Forbes, who passed away in hospital of pneumonia in the early hours of the morning last Thursday having ridden a winner at Scottsville just hours earlier.
The hearts of all in the industry are with his wife Lezeanne and their young son Zac and also with his older offspring Jordan and Savannah.
Summerveld trainer Lezeanne sent out the Querari gelding Warfarer to win on Sunday at Scottsville and in an emotional moment in the winner’s enclosure jockey Tristan Godden spoke for many when pointing skywards and saying, “This one is for Alec.”
Forbes was clearly a dedicated horseman with a strong work ethic and will be a big loss to racing.
He would have made it in any walk of life as an enquiring mind who was an avid reader and his books and periodicals were his regular companions between races in the jockey’s room.
His riding agent of eleven years Rob Champion was particularly hard hit by the news, especially as he had spoken to him the previous evening and congratulated him on his winner. He said, “We have always been close friends, he was more like a son to me. He was always very honourable and straight shooting, the nicest guy you will ever meet, a total gentleman, the quieter type of gentleman, and an absolute pleasure to work for.”
Forbes had fine associations with the two leading KZN yards, Summerveld’s Dennis Drier and Ashburton’s Duncan Howells.
Drier said, “We had a great partnership over the years. He was an absolute gentleman, he wasn’t scared of work and did me proud with both Beach Beauty and Val De Ra. It is very sad and he is a big loss to the jockey ranks and to racing.”
Forbes rode the champion Beach Beauty to victory in two Grade 2s and a Grade 3 and to two seconds in Grade 1s.
He rode the champion sprinter Val De Ra to victory in the Grade 1 Computaform Sprint, the Grade 1 Cape Flying Championship and the Grade 2 Southern Cross Stakes.
Jockey Karl Neisius recalled that Cape Flying Championships, “I was drawn wider on What A Winter and dropped in behind Val DE Ra, but she kicked again and was too good. Alec was a fantastic guy, a total gentleman and down to earth, you couldn’t meet a nicer guy, it is very sad for the family.”
Howells said, “I knew Alec more on a professional level than a personal one and he was very workmanlike and I had a great amount of respect for him. He was always on time, he put a lot of effort into the work. He performed very well for us.”
Forbes also formed a good partnership at one stage with veteran Summerveld trainer Alistair Gordon.
Gordon said, “It was a huge shock too all of us. I had an awful lot of time for Alec, he was an exceptionally hardworking guy, a true gentleman of the sport and a really good guy, he was top-class.”
Jockey great Anton Marcus also spoke highly of his KZN-based colleague. “He was a great guy, a gentleman of the jockey room and is sorely missed.”
Greg Cheyne was in the same year as Forbes at the South African Jockeys Academy and said, “I am also good friends with his step-brother Paul Devlin, so am lost for words. Alec was a top bloke, quiet and humble and he would just go about his business. I don’t think he had any enemies, he was one of the good guys. I have fond memories of him in our time at the Academy. He was an accomplished rider. When he rode good horses he rode them well and took the chances which came his way. He was still under achieved. But this is more about him as a person. He will be absolutely missed, I can’t say enough about him. He was greatly respected by all of his colleagues.”
By David Thiselton