VETERAN jockey Andrew Fortune has had only two Top 10 finishes on the National Jockeys Table since he won the title in sensational fashion in 2008 when he came off injury, weight problems and drug rehabilitation to ride 200 winners for the crown.
Fortune finished 9th with 102 winners in 2010 and last season chalked up 172 winners for third place to S’Manga Khumalo. To be fair, niggling injuries and continued weight problems kept him out of large parts of most terms in the last eight years, but the talented rider seems to have his heart set on the title again this season. He’s travelling wide and afar – like in 2008 – and has booted home 28 winners so far, giving him a 10-winner lead over Randall Simons, and a 16-winner cushion over Anthony Delpech.
When Fortune means business, few can match him. With Khumalo on a long suspension, Piere Strydom and Anton Marcus arguably going for quality over quantity these days and Gavin Lerena a late starter following overseas commitments, Fortune will be a fair eachway bet of bookies were to price up on the contest.
He seems more energetic than ever, has a good relationship going with a number of trainers including Turffontein’s Gary Alexander, and he’s clearly seen an early opportunity to skip away like he did when clinched the prize in 2008.
In the trainer’s race, determined by gross stakes won, Dennis Drier holds an early lead over Justin Snaith and Duncan Howells. The fierce rivalry between Callan Murray and Lyle Hewitson continues on the log for apprentices, they have 6 winners apiece so far.