Feeds have, of course, a major impact on horses’ health and as such on their performances. Ricky Maingard has been training horses for thirty five years, first in South Africa and now in Mauritius. His record as a trainer shows 122 black type wins including 32 Group 1 and 90 listed ones as well as Group 2 and 3. Born in a family deeply involved in horse racing in Mauritius he started riding at an early age for his father. Then he left the island to go to Europe where he became an engineer. He worked for an American firm which sent him to South Africa. That’s where he decided to change career and make of his passion his job. Thanks to his experience as a gentleman rider and lad jockey he asked for a professional licence and got it. From then on his fate was to change for ever.
Feeding racehorses has always been one of Ricky Maingard’s main concerns. “I visited many countries. I was sure there was a better way of feeding horses. Very little research had been done regarding equine nutrition, at least in South Africa, compared to other sporting disciplines.” His quest for knowledge kept growing and he decided to investigate the best way to feed horses. To do so he travelled, went to the USA and Australia where he discovered new methods using soya, yeast, seeds like peas and sunflower. Back to South Africa he tried to put into practice what he had learned. And this new formula for feeding horses was successful as he noticed his horses looked well and raced better. But he decided to go further. He met KER’s (Kentucky Equine Research) scientific team, the most prominent horse nutrition experts in the world, who are based in the USA and in Australia. What he learnt from them led him to develop a high quality feed in South Africa. “It’s a very good agricultural country. You can find fruits, wines, one of the best maize in the world, everything. Now the researches showed that you had to cook seeds to use starch.”
One of the aims of diets based on starch, which gives energy, aims at an increased efficient digestibility in the small intestine. To that purpose the starch molecules have to be opened within the grains and broken into small components making them more accessible to enzymatic absorption. His research showed that the best method of processing grains was micronization. Developed in England in the 1970s, it is a cooking process using infrared radiant energy for a short period of time, 50 seconds, at approximately 90°C. It causesa gelatinisation of the grains. This technique will led him to produce outstanding quality feeds that he could export one day.
Jean-Philippe Thomas, Guy Theunynck, Ricky Maingard et King des Aigles
At the time the price of food in South Africa was a non negligible advantage. Then Ricky Maingard had to find a name to give to his brand. It would turn to be Capstone : “We had to find something different from “equine” or “elite”. He started a partnership with KER which helped him thanks to its techniques and technologies, and launched a range of products based on the best ingredients available in South Africa. “The aim is to manufacture feeds that can positively compare to any others and which are well formulated and balanced.” For Ricky Maingard it was also very important to see what the product is made of.
The adventure began slowly. He started by importing micronized grains from Australia. Then he decided to invest into his micronizer and to create a licensed product. It would be manufactured by Straight’A’s in a special plant in Cape Town, South Africa, belonging to Capstone 335 (pty) Ltd in partnership with Afresh Vention (pty) Ltd. It took one year to complete. Then they had to satisfy the demand, that’s to say 80 tons a month.
In order to improve his product, he took samples of various feeds in Hong Kong and Dubai ; the other manufacturers advised him to use only the best mixers, “I met wonderful people who were extremely helpful regarding production”, he said. In the USA, KER formulated Race 13 : this feed for racehorses sells the most worldwide and has been used by seven out of the twelve last Kentucky Derby winners. It was licensed by All Way Feeds in South Africa. For six years now Capstone has been producing a range of feeds formulated by KER’s team based in Melbourne. All of them aimed at improving the performances of the equine athlete but also the well being of horses at stud.
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Since spring 2011, Ricky Maingard has been aiming at the European market. Capstone is now available in France, from which it can meet the needs demands of European and North African countries. However one of his fundamental criteria lies on mastering the volumes to keep its quality label to the product. Another particularity : creating a partnership with the users thanks to a personalized free service offered by Go-Track and Microsteed software for growth monitoring and design of diets.
Ricky Maingard often says : “What’s rare is sought after. De Beers doesn’t put all its diamonds on the market at once. It’s the same with Capstone, we want our clients to be happy when they use our feed”. After a quick stay in Vichy during the “Semaine du galop” where he officially introduced his range of feeds, Ricky Maingard is back to Mauritius where his horses were waiting for him. Now it’s up to his French partners, Hippo Latitude, to promote the brand. They are full of enthusiasm and energy and their knowledge of horses and races makes them excellent ambassadors to all the people who are interested in equine nutrition.