Richard Fourie after a third Gr 1 win on Princess Calla, whom he describes as “a wonder horse”. ( Candiese Lenferna Photography)
Richard Fourie has confirmed he will be out to win the national jockeys championship this season.
He said, “I am a hundred percent committed.”
Much has been said about the “divorce” between himself and his chief Cape Town yard, Justin Snaith.
However, Fourie said, “It was an amicable agreement. I told him I would be travelling this season, so obviously I could not carry on being their first choice rider because they need somebody to be a full-time rider to do the work in the mornings etc. But they will still be giving me rides.”
Fourie will be travelling all over the country, meaning from his Cape Town base he will not only be travelling to his usual away centres of Fairview and KZN, but also to Johannesburg.
He did not single out any yards who will be giving him support, but instead put it like this, “I am getting support from all over, everybody is happy to put me on.”
Of course, although not singling out any “main” supporters, his prolific partnership with Alan Greeff will naturally continue, while his prolific Gr 1-winning partnership with Sean Tarry will also likely continue.
Regarding the carrot dangled by Hollywoodbets of a R1 million bonus to beat Anthony Delpech’s record of 334 wins, Richard replied, “Nobody has reached 300 wins in a season for a long time, so I think 300 wins will be a good target.”
Richard ended the season on a high with a feature four-timer on World Pool Gold Cup day, including landing his second career World Pool Gold Cup and also winning the Gr 1 wfa HKJC World Pool Champions Cup and Gr 1 wfa Mercury Sprint.
He has taken a deserved few days holiday to recharge the batteries before tackling the grueling year-long schedule that a championship bid requires.
Richard starts his bid for the championship on Friday at Fairview where he has a full book of nine rides, all of them for Alan Greeff.
He then travels to Johannesburg on Saturday where he has five rides, one for Mike de Kock, two for Lucky Houdalakis and two for Sean Tarry.
It is then down to Hollywoodbets Scottsville on Sunday, where he has seven rides, two for Peter Muscutt and the rest for different trainers.
Then it is back home for the Hollywoodbets Durbanville meeting on Tuesday, where he has a full book of eight rides for various trainers. The fact one of them is for Justin Snaith confirms there is no animosity between the two high class professionals after his step down from the stable jockey role.
So that is the schedule he will be hoping to maintain for a lot of the season and that covers just over half-a-week!
It would be no surprise to see him limiting the number of Highveld meetings he attends, because seven flights per week might be asking a bit much.
A complication might arise when a KZN meeting is followed by a Fairview meeting, because there is apparently a lack of direct flights on that route and a flight via Jo’Burg is required.
Richard has many top horses to look forward to during the season, including a top class trio from the Sean Tarry yard.
He called the Tarry-trained Flower Alley mare Princess Calla a “wonder horse” and wondered out aloud whether she would be the Equus Horse Of The Year.
She has topped the points table, so statistically speaking is in pole position for the award.
However, it will all depend on the opinions of the public voters and the expert panel, with Charles Dickens and See It Again being the other two obvious contenders.
Charles Dickens is likely Princess Calla’s chief opposition, considering the class he has shown and accolades he has attracted coupled with the fact that Princess Calla beat See It Again in their only meeting.
Richard, asked how he would feel about Princess Calla taking on Charles Dickens on the race track, replied, “I would love to see her take him on over a mile, it would be very exciting, and I would really like us to take him on over 1800m!”
He continued about the Tarry-trained Equus Champion Two-year-old filly elect, Mrs Geriatrix, “Mrs G has a good turn of foot and although she lacks in stature she has a nice big heart and gives it her all.”
He lamented the bad luck the top class Tarry-trained two-year-old colt Lucky Lad suffered in his last start in the Gr 1 World Pool Moment Of The Day Champion Stakes, a race in which “nothing went right and it didn’t go at all to plan.”
Tarry and Fourie learnt nothing from that race and a line can be drawn through it.
Asked whether he had felt in his earlier unbeaten run over sprint distances that Lucky Lad would stay a mile, he replied, “Oh yes definitely, he will do the distance.”
He also mentioned the Peter Muscutt-trained Isivunguvungu. His two Gr 1-winning rides on this What A Winter gelding would both be contenders for the ride of the season. In both the Gr 1 wfa Jonsson Workwear Computaform Sprint over 1000m at Turffontein Standside and the Gr 1 wfa Mercury Sprint over 1200m at Hollywoodbets Greyville Fourie used tactical brilliance, coupled with the good condition and speed of the strongly built four-year-old, to overcome unfavourable draws.
Fourie completed one missing piece of the jigsaw with his other Gr 1 winner of the season, the now retired Justin Snaith-trained Jet Dark. The stalwart Trippi entire provided him with his first winning ride in his hometown’s biggest race, the WSB Met. And what a ride that was too!
The popular rider will receive a mountain of public support in his bid for the championship, a title he has surprisingly never won before.