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SHARON Kotzen admits there has been a bit of (Just) chaos along the way but now everyone knows what SKR stands for.

The filly Just Chaos became the first Listed winner for Sharon Kotzen Racing (SKR) when she won the Racing Association Stakes at the end of October at Fairview in Port Elizabeth.

This victory announced, if anyone was still wondering about it, that trainer Sharon Kotzen is not only here to stay in the Friendly City, but she is here to be very competitive.

Yes, there were those that acknowledged they thought Kotzen might have bitten off more than she can chew when she took out her trainers’ license and relocated into the unknown to PE after she was the assistant-trainer for the veteran Ormond Ferraris for 14 years.

Not that anyone doubted her ability but Kotzen arrived in PE at a time when the so-called smaller stables were really struggling to survive.

She started with seven horses (in 2016), leasing boxes from trainer Grant Paddock, and the filly Treize was her first winner at the end of November that year.

“I now have 58 horses of which 14 are babies. It is now going better than I thought it would when I arrived here with those seven horses.

“The stable is building up nicely. It is a nice string to at least be competitive,” Kotzen said.

It was no problem for Kotzen to run her own stable after been an assistant for so long. It was a smooth transition and she feels the experience she gained in the Ferraris stable played a huge role in that.

“Mister Ferraris is a true professional. Everything is run like clockwork. I learned the discipline and dedication that is required to run a stable.”

Although PE racing is as competitive as anywhere else in the country, Kotzen finds the environment is a bit more relaxed than in Johannesburg.

“In Johannesburg there are more meetings. It is really hectic where here in PE we usually just have the Friday meeting every week.

“Nominating so far ahead for races is a bit of a challenge and something to get used to.”

Another challenge is to be successful on both surfaces in PE. It did not take SKR long to sort that one out.

“I prefer the grass track but have been doing well on the poly surface also. It is good to have two different surfaces to race on. Some horses really love the poly and others hate it.”

Kotzen and husband Gregory quickly adapted to the Friendly City and is enjoying life in the Bay.

“The PE racing people accepted me well. I like the camaraderie amongst the trainers. On race days we take each other on but always wish each other well.

“All the trainers are prepared to help each other. If one runs into some sort of trouble you can approach any trainer for help. There is no back biting. I don’t think you get that in all the other centres. It is more social here.”

There were many sad faces in Johannesburg when Kotzen left and a lot of promises were made about horses been send to PE to get her going.

Not all of those promises materialised and it was no easy task for SKR to get into full swing.

“It was difficult to find my feet but Peter de Beyer, Glen Kotzen and Gregory were amongst those that supported me in a huge way.

“They helped to sort of put me on the map. Without that kind of support you are nothing.

“I am lucky to have loyal owners. It is a pleasure having them in the yard. We have regular chats and everyone gives their input. The out of town owners don’t feel isolated. We keep them up to date by sending them video clips of their horses at work. We try to keep them feeling part of the yard.”

The Kotzen yard has been described as a breath of fresh air for racing in the Windy City.

Marie Botha and Matthew Manthe are some of the owners involved with SKR and say it is an absolute pleasure working with the Kotzen team.

Manthe is a part owner of Just Chaos and summed up the feeling of SKR owners after the victory in the RA Stakes: “I love every moment with them in the racing game.”

Kotzen points out that jockey Luyolo Mxothwa plays a major role in the success of SKR. Mxothwa was in the saddle when Just Chaos won that first Listed race for SKR.

“I like his style of riding. He has lovely hands and get on well with different type of horses. He gives his best every time and is an asset to the yard.

“It is good to keep to one rider because he can give you good feedback on the horses. He got to know the horses and it gives you a bit of an advantage.”

When asked which horses to keep an eye out for in the coming season or two in PE it was no surprise to hear Kotzen expect more big things from Lister winner Just Chaos.

Querari Viking, Counting Stars, Vertical and Seeking Wisdom are others that she mentioned but she added that new stock is always necessary to keep on improving.

Keep on improving is the aim of SKR and the stats are there for everyone to see – there is just no chaos in this stable.

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