Fiona Ramsden doesn’t believe in being fashionably late. The phone buzzes ahead of our meeting and she says, “I got here early.” When I arrive she’s busy with her phone. Busy being the operative word. There’s an infectious energy and professionalism about this stalwart of the South African racing scene. Born and raised into an equine environment in England, she emigrated to South Africa in 1995. Twenty-six years later she is still here, going strong, cramming 25 hours into 24-hour days.
Still, she has the time – and desire – to take on new challenges. Which means she has a spring in her step and a sparkle in her eyes when she talks about her new role as Ambassador for Kuda, whose founder and CEO is the familiar figure of Wehann Smith.
Ramsden’s past is well documented. A quick “Google” will confirm that her father was a trainer, that she herself started riding at an early age, she was a secretary to a top trainer and an avid work rider. Her South African “life” has seen her raise two precious daughters, Holly and Zara, and she grew into her own role which saw her comfortable in front of the camera as a television presenter and even introduced, in 2013, as “The Face of the Cape Summer Season.”
That season is now upon us again and Ramsden is excited about what the immediate future holds. She has a vibrant personality and is relishing making her mark in the insurance industry as a Kuda brand ambassador.
“I’ve always had a lot of respect for Wehann, who has built up a truly awesome business. He has a wonderful group of people working for him and I’m so excited about adding growth to the Kuda brand,” she says.
“When the opportunity came up I regarded it as a perfect fit. Horses have always been part of my life and I suppose you could say that it is part of my DNA. I currently work on the Breeding To Win programme, and weekends see me at the races where I interview trainers and (hopefully) help those watching the live feed to narrow down their selections. I’m not a betting person, but I do take pride in being able to help punters. I am able to look at a horse and distinguish those who are looking particularly well, and those who go down to post well. Most of the time they run accordingly, and many of them at big prices for the punters out there!”
However, Ramsden’s role with Kuda isn’t about finding winners on the track. She is currently promoting the After Auction Keep Cover which is particularly relevant for the upcoming Sales taking place, beginning with this weekend’s CTS Ready To Run Sale at Kenilworth. “It’s a product aimed at new and existing owners and applies to the first year after a Sale, where (unfortunately) a lot can go wrong. My role includes educating and introducing clients to the product and I believe that with my experience and understanding of racing it’s going to result in a successful partnership.”
After Auction Keep Cover is a fall of hammer product where Kuda insures the horse on an annual basis for a selected mortality value based on the fall of hammer price. Training, spelling, pre-training and other horse related costs can be quite substantial. In the unfortunate event that your horse should perish, choosing this cover at or after the auction covers you for up to R12 500 per month (minus earnings) as additional protection.
This product was developed as a result of an incident that occurred where a horse was purchased at a sale. He then spent his time in training, but sadly had to be humanely euthanased. There was nothing available in the market that covered the owner for the costs incurred over the year and before the horse had a chance to race.
“I’m a people’s person so I’m enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with new and existing racehorse owners. I believe that I have a good relationship and reputation within the industry, so I’m looking forward to some new sign-ups and new partnerships, starting this weekend at the Ready To Run! I’m also working closely with Jo-An Campher in the Bloodstock Division and Kerry Byerley in the Kuda Sport Horse Division and it’s wonderful to be part of this amazing team. I’m promoting household and vehicle insurance at Kuda too, it’s so exciting to be part of such a dynamic team.”
“Another coffee,” I ask? “No, thank you. I have to fetch my daughters. Zara recently competed at the Sanessa National Championships and made us terribly proud. We’ve been to a couple of big shows which is also part of my life, so I’m looking forward to building up relationships in the Sport Horse world too.”
You have to wonder if there’s anything in the equestrian environment that Ramsden hasn’t experienced. “Actually,” she says, and smiles … “the other day I went to a Reining event here in the Western Cape. That was a first for me!”
And with that she gets up and prepares for the next phase of her day. Be sure to look out for her at this weekend’s CTS Ready To Run Sale at Kenilworth. She’ll be the one wearing the Kuda hat, figuratively speaking of course.