TRAINER Candice Bass-Robinson (photo) has split with her retained stable jockey, Grant van Niekerk, who is to ride freelance from now on.
The Milnerton trainer said: “We have decided that we are going to go our separate ways. Grant is going to go freelance and we will also freelance [as regards jockeys] for a while. There are no hard feelings or anything like that. It’s just that we decided that this might be best, and we will see how we go from here.”
Mike Bass picked Van Niekerk to be his number one rider two and a half years ago. Just turned 23, he was young and comparatively inexperienced compared with the likes of Karl Neisius and Bernard Fayd’Herbe whose boots he was being asked to fill.
Van Niekerk slipped into the job as if it had been made for him, promptly put himself into the 100-plus winner-a-season bracket and won both the 2015 Paddock and Majorca for the stable on Inara.
Last season was even better. He won three more at the very top level on Inara as well as the Champions Cup on Marinaresco after so nearly snatching the Vodacom Durban July on the three-year-old.
Van Niekerk’s decision to let three interference suspensions roll over until later this month looked a sensible course of action at the time. Now he is probably wishing to be in the public eye – or at least trainers’ eyes – without that interruption. But he has already shown that he is too good a jockey for this to be much more than a temporary setback. He would not comment when contacted yesterday. – Michael Clower/Gold Circle