THE MAN BEHIND THE RED HEAD
They say behind every great man there’s a great woman and perhaps in this case that may be true. His stable was founded on 12th Feb 2008, and he is a legend and one of the leading pioneers of the game. From sponsoring many cups along with his wife the GnuMAD, Golden Gnu Trophy, as well as the Crimson Carnival Cups. He places in the Top 10 with 21 World Cups wins, 14 Regional Cups an a abundance of league and Top 5 wins in some of the toughest battles in the Asia region.
So without further ado let’s give a BIG warm TK Nuts welcome to the man I call “The Traveler” the owner of Dopey Donkey Digs Stable:
Q – Lets get started Noddy, welcome to TK Nuts, tell us a little about yourself?
- Reading through this interview I may sound like a drunken layabout. I don’t want to start any rumours – but that’s not entirely true! I was sober for at least the first two questions! I was born in Canada, from South African parents (who were in political exile), went to school in Wales & Scotland before my parents returned to what was then called ‘South West Africa’ – and was about to become Independent (at the time it was a colony of South Africa) – it took another 20 years for Namibian Independence to happen – but that is a long story! Rhed and I run a (surprisingly!) successful travel agency in the sparsely populated, but very large and beautiful southern African country of Namibia. Rhed mostly swans around and goes on holiday while I do all the work! We employ 14 travel consultants ALL of whom are women — It really is not as much fun as it may sound!
Q – How did you discover Track King?
- I was playing an online football game called ‘In off The Post’ – and TK was getting a lot of traction in the forums there, so I decided to give it a go. Quite a few of the players joined from there and I think many are still around.
Q – Any particular reason you named your stable Dopey Donkey Digs?
- I like alliteration……
Q – Do you still remember your first race?
- Nope – and before you ask I don’t remember my most recent race either.
Q – If you could start over, what would you do differently?
- Everything. The first few years were a complete mess – financial disaster meant I was constantly struggling to keep things together. Often having to sell my best horses to keep bankruptcy at bay. There really was very little info out there – for a long time (and probably still to this day) there was a training spreadsheet that was shared among new players – it shows pops and plops for various training methods. I spent ages creating that through trial and error (and I’m sure many other did similar spreadsheets as well), then when Rhed started playing I shared it with her (cause I’m soft like that) – then she became a mentor it was shared with just about everyone…. And she wonders why I don’t tell her anything!
Q – Any advice to newbies that only started the game?
- Don’t listen to your mentor to closely – the best way to learn is to experiment. There are many ways to be successful in this game and often ‘conventional’ wisdom is not the best way for your style of management.
Q – Your first world cup is always special, tell us about your first winner, Kalahari Ferrari and the cups she won?
- Kalahari Ferrari (by the way that’s a nickname for donkeys here in Namibia), was a fab horse. Completely dominated the 2 year old series, back in the days before there was a cup for those races. Still my favourite horse by some distance – I still have regrets that I may have messed up her final years. Should definitely have won a few more cups.
Q – Any other memorable races early on?
- I remember my first world record, it was an epic runner. Wish I could remember the name of the horse!
Q – Calloway Chloe, Baron Kublai and Tessa Al won nine medium world cups between them, can I assume (mother of all f..ups), that it is your favorite distance? If so, why?
- I’m not sure if it is my favourite distance, I think Epics are probably the pinnacle of the game. But I became obsessed with winning a MM after finishing 2nd countless times. I remember my first MM win quite clearly – was with a pretty average horse called Devourer, poor Dolfie finished 2nd with a superior horse that had never (and never again) failed to finish ahead of Devourer.
Q – How do you plan a race, do you weigh up the opposition or run your own race?
- Very much run my own race – generally don’t even have a clue as to who else is running! Rhed keeps meticulous records of her own horses, training pops, trainer comments and just about everything else – it frustrates her massively that I don’t care and just wing it! (that’s probably the main reason I don’t keep records – it’s fun to piss her off! 😛
Q – Do you still get nervous before a cup final?
Q – When was the eureka moment, when you realized, you could be good at this game?
- I’ll let you know when it happens!
Q – Does the old maxim, “Behind every successful man is an equally successful woman,” apply to Noddy?
- Nope – have you seen Rhed’s trophy cabinet, she can hardly be called successful.
AN EYE FOR A HORSE
Q – Which do you consider to be the best horse you have trained to date?
- It’s a toss up between Flying Quagga, who at a stage had 3 long world records (and still holds one). And Melins one of only two horse ever to break the 65km/h barrier.
Q – You have an amazing number of good horses in your stables right now, any favorite among them?
- I’m fairly fond of Not Very Good. Came very close to winning the MM as a 7 yo – and has a reasonable chance of winning it next week.
Q – Which of your horses do you feel would be worth following over the next couple of months?
- Not Very Good & Finnish Hieghts (the TK random name generator can not spell). Don’t ever back any of my young runners – I’m simply terrible at running then – but once they hit 8 years we tend to find an understanding.
Q – Which are the horses that left the biggest impact on you, from other stables?
- I can’t really think of any – I really don’t pay enough attention… I try but am easily distracted by wine, beer and gin!
Q – What are some of the future goals you have?
- To open another bottle of wine….
Q – Is there anything you would like to share to stables who would like to try training good younger horses especially those 2 to 3 year olds?
- If you want to win age group cups start with one of the best rated horses from that years foals. Identify the correct style for the weather pattern and then 12 hours training and training track as often as you can. It’s a bit boring really – I struggle to stay awake while doing the training track thing!
Q – Favorite style of horse you like to race with?
- I have had a lot of fun with stalkers. But FF and Muddies are the easiest.
THOUGHTS ON THE GAME
Q – If you had to name the most important things or features in the game that have kept your interest here in Track King, what would those things or features be? And, why?
- Being more successful than Rhed. I was going to say better – but everyone knows she is the better person! I also like the fact the game can be approached in any way that suits. Its rare to find a game that offers such diversity.
Q – Old stables that you miss or you wish was still playing?
- I’m hesitant to answer this one in case any stables I mention are still around and have just been ignoring me. Used to have a good laugh with Rang10Cam (or something like that). I think he was Brazilian and while we couldn’t understand a word we wrote to each other he was a great adversary and a good laugh.
Q – Name three things you would like to see changed on Track King?
- Training Track – should only be able to use it once a week per horse.
- Invites – inviting the same groups of players to invitational / stakes races ever week is tedious in the extreme. I’d love to see ‘groups’ allowing one click to invite them all. Have had several discussions about this with HB, but there are technical difficulties.
- Pandering – there has been way to much compromise to allow people to win cups, I wasn’t thrilled when those local cups came along so mediocre horses could get some cups, then the 2yo series got a cup (it’s not a real cup is it!?!) and recently I noticed that some apprentice series run in Europe also has a cup attached to it. Sounds like I’m becoming the sort of old and grumpy bloke I used to despise!
- World Records – I know I was only allowed three but I’ve never being able to count – way more attention should be given to WR. How is it possible that if your stable has more than 1 WR you only have one of those dodgy WR cups symbols in your cabinet…. WR are the pinnacle of TK and I think announcements should be made when one is set. Not an announcement for every age / distance / condition record. Just when a horse runs faster than any other horse over a given distance.
Q – Is there something in Track King that you would want to change that would reflect something in real life horses/situations?
- I can not imagine a real life jockey expecting an owner to wake up at 3.45 on a Monday morning – then keep them waiting for 25 minutes before agreeing to negotiate a contract. I’m the boss! I call the shots! Want to ride for my stable come to my office at 10.25 am – bring me a bottle of wine and some gummy bears and I MIGHT employ you!
Q – What irks you the most in this game?
- Rhed winning races….
Q – What is the one feature of the game you cannot get your head wrapped around?
- Breeding. I’ve spoken to several of the best breeders in the game and am proud to count Redlinekai (you won’t meet a nicer guy) amongst my TK friends – but even his guidance has not helped.
Q – What motivates you to play this game day in and day out?
Q – What is your philosophy on the racing game?
- I don’t do philosophy. Actually while interviewing for new staff recently I discounted one applicant purely because her CV included a section titled ‘Personal Philosophy’.
Q – What is the best advice you’ve been given in playing this game?
- ‘Don’t forget to send your jockey’ – many times, from many helpful people…
Q – What are the most common mistakes that you see other experienced players making? Mistakes that they may not realize that they are making?
- Entering better horses than mine in races I want to win. Why would you do that?
Q – What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
- Hairboy and I have worked together on several projects. He actually coded an online booking system for my company website – based purely on the clever coding he had done on the TK website and a few conversations we’d had. (I should probably say ‘OUR company website’ – Rhed is part owner, and if I ignore her involvement she tortures me!)
Q – How do you like to spend your free time?
- Beer, wine & gin – did we not already go over this 🙂 I’m a big football fan – and Rhed and I can often be found around the world following the Proteas (South African) cricket team. We’ll be in Hobart & Adelaide (where we will meet HB) next month for the tests.We also love live music – but living in a cultural backwater often have to travel for that.
Q – Your favorite two holiday destinations?
- Cape Town – we are lucky to own a holiday flat just a minutes walk from the football stadium, and very close to the Waterfront etc. The very remote riverbeds of Kaokoland and Damaraland. You can spend days there without seeing another soul – with just the desert adapted elephants, lions and oryx for company!
Q – If I was to go on vacation with a limit budget, where would you recommend?
- I actually met Rhed at the backpackers hostel I used to own (it was frequently voted one of the three best party hostels in Africa. ‘Party hostel’- is code for a bit of a dive, where the owner is usually drunk by 9am and gives away copious amounts of free booze!) – we lived in a tiny room in that place for several years – needless to say we no longer do ‘budget’ holidays!
Q – How do you cope with the redhead?
- We just had our 20th anniversary. No one copes after that long, I just ignore her…
Q – Who in Track King is on the guest list for your ideal dinner party and why?
- Over the years we’ve actually met (and had dinner with) a few people we’ve met playing the game, needless to say none of them accept a subsequent dinner invitation. So will have to go with people I’ve never met…
- GM-Ersins – he just seems to be one of the ‘good guys’.
- Captaincrusoe – because I may as well suck up to the interviewer.
- Hairboy – although by the time this is printed I may finally have met him – so he’ll be declining the invitation.
- Etude / Pidge / whatever she is called now – I admire people who aren’t scared when to admit they’ve made a mistake.
- Rhed – I’m a real Namibian, we only eat meat! Other countries may think they’re big meat eaters but we scoff in there general direction. We seriously consider chicken to be a vegetable… Fish is positively vegan! Rhed is a pom – and before living here was a vegetarian (when I met her I thought those were fictional beings!). So if we’re to have a rounded dinner – she’ll need to be around to boil a carrot – or whatever one does with those green things!
- Desmond Tutu – not sure he plays TK – but he would love it! He’d liven up any dinner party, loves cricket, and might impart some serious wisdom.
Q – Do you have a shocking revelation to make?
- Rhed does not have red hair! She’s a mousey blonde. She once dyed her hair red – but (and don’t tell her this!!!) it didn’t suit her. Currently (for unspecified health reasons) she is not even drinking red wine – which has led to a subsequent increase in sales of gin at our local bottle store (incidentally our local bottle store is fantastic – it is situated on Nelson Mandela Avenue, owned by a teetotal family from Madeira, situated opposite the countries only mosque and next to a butchery called Porkey’s – we’re a diverse country!)
Noddy, thank you for sharing your views and providing us a fun insight into the interesting real life of a TK Legend.
Best of luck in the future!