THE BARTIE LEISHER STORY – May 2009
Written, directed & photographed by Kevin Harris.
Born in Mayfair Johannesburg in 1962 – the youngest of nine siblings – Bartie Leisher at age 23 became the youngest South African jockey to earn Springbok Colours. He again took SA colours in 1985.
Known as the jockey who would “always ride to win”, Bartie was well-loved by the rank-&-file South African public and brought a measure of personal integrity to the sport of horse-racing.
In 1987 he was offered a contract to ride in Hong Kong and became the first South African ever to win an International Jockey Championship when he beat Hong Kong’s top riders to take the cup for the 1988 Hong Kong horse-racing season.
It was Bartie Leisher who opened the door and paved the way to the international arena for future South African Champions Dougie Whyte, Felix Coetzee and the legendary Muis Roberts.
Riding the crest of the wave in Hong Kong – Bartie was again heading the Championship Log – when, on the 25th March 1989 he took a fall & suffered a near-fatal head injury.
In a gutsy show of determination, Bartie battled the debilitating effects of the resulting brain-damage to fight his way back into the saddle and pick up the pieces of his shattered career.
This is his story.