Van Tonder working towards training dream

The money Andre Van Tonder made working with computers has helped fund his dream to become a full-time horse trainer.

The Warwick Farm trainer is set to have a rare runner on Wednesday when Typeface lines up in an 1100m benchmark handicap on his home track.

Van Tonder has degrees in agriculture and telecommunications, the industry in which he worked.

“Unfortunately I’ve had too many irons in the fire and haven’t focused on racing enough. That’s why we haven’t had many starters,” Van Tonder said.

His work has given him the chance to plan an exit route to a country property where he hopes to make training a viable profession.

“To get back to the agricultural side, the horses and racing is super,” Van Tonder said.

“We love our horses and we try to get the best out of them.”

“We work really hard at keeping them happy.”

Van Tonder’s love for horses started in his native South Africa where his family is involved in the mounted police.

“From a young age I was learning to ride,” Van Tonder said.

“All my holidays were consumed with horses.”

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Van Tonder has represented NSW in three-day equestrian eventing and rides trackwork for the six horses he has in work.

He said riding Typeface had given him an insight into how to get the best out of the nine-year-old.

“He’s a very intelligent horse so I’ve had to work out how to communicate with him,” he said.

Typeface started his career as a Darley horse trained by Lee Freedman before Van Tonder bought him.

The horse had feet problems and spent about two years out of racing after picking up a skin bug while spelling.

Van Tonder said the enforced break helped Typeface regain his enthusiasm for racing and wiped out some bad habits.

James McDonald won on Typeface at his first Sydney meeting after relocating from New Zealand in 2012, the same day he rode It’s A Dundeel to his first Sydney win.

While he hasn’t been able to get McDonald back on Typeface, Van Tonder remains a part of the star jockey’s rise.

“I feel I helped him get started in Australia,” Van Tonder said.

Leading apprentice Deanne Panya gets on Typeface tomorrow and Van Tonder says a dry track will be crucial to the pair’s success.

And the small-time trainer is fine with people dismissing Typeface’s chances.

“If his odds get out, we can have a few dollars on him and make something,” he said.

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