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Picture : Robert Bloomberg

  • By publishing the article below written by Robert Bloomberg, Turf Talk do not intend to detract from Anthony Delpech’s incredible feat of riding 334 wins in a season. As he pointed out himself the more one rides in a season the more chance of injury and the more chance of suspension due to the mental fatigue which sets in, so riding 334 wins in a season under any circumstance is an unbelievable feat and has for a long time been called the safest record in SA sport. Furthermore, he did it in one of the greatest eras of South African jockeyship and had to compete against the like of Piere Strydom, Jeff Lloyd, Weichong Marwing, Anton Marcus, Karl Neisius, Mark Khan, Rhys van Wyk, Kevin Shea etc. The article also does not intend to detract from Hollywoodbet’s praiseworthy offer of R1 million to anybody who beats that record. It has added further intrigue to a racing season which Hollywoodbets do a lot to bolster anyway. The article merely intends to reveal, through a careful study of the statistics, the enormity of the task which faces Richard Fourie and others who are out to chase the record (Fourie himself has set himself a more realistic target of 300 wins).   

Robert Bloomberg

Anthony Delpech finds himself caught between a rock and a hard place in that his employers Hollywood have in laudatory fashion “dangled a carrot” of R1 million if any rider can top his praiseworthy record of 334 winner attained in the 1998/99 racing fashion and which by association he must promote. I say that because in his heart of hearts he must know full well that this milestone is well-nigh impossible to achieve in this day and age.

We need to compare apples with apples here. When Delpech attained his record, we had 488 meetings (which included 52 Zimbabwe meetings whose results were included in our stats). His total equated to 0,684 winners per meeting (“wpm”). He had 1,672 rides at a win strike rate of 20%.

Last season Keegan De Melo had 277 winners from 1434 mounts at a win average of 19.3% and 0,758 wpm. Importantly, and significantly, there were only 365 meetings. Delpech therefore benefited to the tune of 123 more meetings and 238 more rides. Based on 488 meetings, De Melo would have ridden around 370 winners, 36 more than Delpech.

Richard Fourie had 258 winners from 1170 rides at a win average of 22.1% and 0,706 wpm. He had 264 less rides than De Melo and 502 less than Delpech. Had he also benefited from 488 meetings, he would have ridden around 345 winners, 11 more than Delpech.

This season, meetings have been further reduced to 350. So, De Melo fell short of Delpech’s record by 57 winners and Fourie by 76 and they now have 15 less meetings in order to surpass the record! Fourie would have to ride virtually a winner a meeting and that’s riding at all 350 meetings! This is of course without taking the possibility of injuries and suspensions into account or the abandonment of meetings which cancellations were more readily replaced in those days.

To put 138 less meetings into perspective, that’s a drop of 28.3%!

The equivalent of 334 winners from 488 meetings would today be 240 winners from 350 meetings so nobody will get remotely close to the magic number of 335, hence my statement that Hollywood’s money is very safe. Perhaps consideration should be given to reducing the mark for the “pot o’ gold” to 300 winners. I doubt very much that even that mark will be breached, but at least there would be considerably more interest.

  • Turf Talk Ed – the question was asked, “How does it benefit a jockey when there is an average of more than one meeting per day, because a jockey can only be in one place at one time?” Robert replied, “There were more riding options and more options  for plum rides. No jockey is going to travel for 365 days. Delpech was KZN based and would have at least another 30 meetings to ride at locally. Guys also used to ride in Johannesburg in the day and KZN at night and vice versa.”

Responding to Mr Bloomberg’s letter, Hollywoodbets’ Dermot O’Connell confirmed that the R1 million incentive is a gesture of acknowledging the superb record set by Anthony Delpech, while at the same instance maintaining public interest and providing every local jockey with a dream goal to aim at.

He added that Winning Form, Sporting Post and SplashOut sponsored riders are incentivized per winner and also via progressive bonuses for specified winner intervals, as well as being paid a substantial cash bonus for winning the national championship. Therefore, there is great value in attempting the record, regardless!

“We note Mr Bloomberg’s comments, but it is a reality that Anthony Delpech was never given any form of external incentive to achieve his benchmark when he did. And while the racing programme may well look very different today as to what it did 25 years ago, Anthony Delpech also did not ride at Kimberley or in Zimbabwe, which both counted towards the statistics at the time. Either way, there is still great value in attempting it,” he suggested.