Industry Press

Ex-South African Trainer Making An Art Form Of Australian Life

Fleeing a strife-torn country is always a leap into the unknown but trainer Renate Du Plessis’ flight to Australia has sent her life off on a surprising tangent into the art world.

The trainer prepared more than 60 winners while running the Favour Stud operation alongside her husband Jannie. But unrest in South Africa prompted the Du Plessis clan to rethink their options.

Concerns over the safety of their daughter Hailee drove the couple to emigrate to Australia in November 2017.

Life hasn’t quite been as expected but Renate said their daughter’s progress in her new home has more than justified their decision.

“We came out of South Africa because everything is not dandy over there. We moved over here for our daughter, she was seven when we left there,” Du Plessis said.

“We gave up everything and sold everything and just decided we need to find a place where we could build a safe future for her.

“That was the only reason we came over was for her.”

The Du Plessis family has spent time in three states since arriving in Australia, starting with Tony Gollan in Queensland before getting her training licence in Victoria.

Du Plessis spent a short period training at Winchelsea, near Geelong, before putting her training ambitions on hold while the family worked to secure permanent residency.

Du Plessis said the team at Newgate Farm where she now works has been an enormous help to her family’s Australian adventure, sponsoring their permanent residency application. She said bloodstock director Bruce Slade has been a big part of their promising new life.

“I’m extremely grateful to Newgate and Bruce,” she said. “They’ve given us an amazing opportunity with our daughter and she’s flourishing over here, which is wonderful.”

Putting the Australian training dream on the backburner left Du Plessis needing to find something to do with her hands and mind. A childhood love of art and drawing was rekindled to fill the void.

What started out as the rejuvenation of a hobby moved to preparing gifts to show her appreciation for the help the Du Plessis family has received in Australia.

“I started when I was very young and have always loved drawing,” Du Plessis said. “When I was young and wanted a new saddle or something, I’d draw a couple of pictures to sell and it’s always been a way to try to make my way.

“When I got married and had our daughter and had the racing stable, I gave it away for a couple of years and didn’t touch a pencil.

“When we got to Australia, I needed something for my hands to do and I was getting frustrated with not doing enough.

“I did my very first portrait over here for Tony Gollan, of Spirit Of Boom, as a gift because he and his wife Jane were a big help to us.

“I did a gift for Henry Field of Deep Field because they did a lot for us with our permanent residency. They sponsored us and have been a huge blessing in our lives.”

But a couple of tweets showcasing Du Plessis’ talents has led to an avalanche of commercial requests.

Business is now booming for Du Plessis from owners, trainers, riders, and even random folks from the Twitterverse getting in touch with her wanting portraits of star gallopers of the past.

“I put it out there (on Twitter) and it seemed to get a huge reaction so I thought I’d start putting myself out there as available for portraits and the rest is history,” she said.

“I’ve had amazing support from owners, trainers and some riders. It’s been a huge surprise and very grateful.

“I’m booked out until the end of October and I’m taking orders for November and December and Facebook, it’s really been amazing.

“The support has been awesome and I really can’t say thank you to everyone.”

Look out for Renate du Plessis Fine Art if you’re thinking of a Christmas gift or want your favourite galloper on the wall at home.

Copy: Brad Waters, Racenet