HARDWORKING jockey Muzi Yeni rode a double at Turffontein on Saturday to take his seasonal tally to 61 winners and a third place on the National Jockeys Table. He won the Listed Swallow Stakes over 1160m on Diane Stenger’s Covered In Snow and followed up in a handicap on Mike de Kock’s Alileo an hour later.
The diminutive Yeni, who takes his job so seriously that he’s had professional run-ins with the likes of Frankie Dettori, hasn’t been out of the Top 6 on the National Log in the last seven seasons. In 2015/16, his best season so far, Yeni rode 166 winners to secure fifth place behind then champion jockey S’Manga Khumalo, though his best log finish came in 2013/14,when Richard Fourie kept him out of second place by a single winner in a contest also won by Khumalo.
It’s always interesting listening to the little man explaining his rides post-race – his voice doesn’t break into a high pitch like it used to when he rode for the late Colin Scott in their early days together . Yeni sounds like a professor these days talking about fractions and getting to know his mounts better on a personal level and those kind of things. And he’s always going to give you a sound, decent run for for your money; unlike certain others who use their winners to push their religious beliefs so it’s easier to hide their virtuous mugs once they’ve ridden a schocker or ‘pulled a move’.
Race caller Nico Kritsiotis, himself a lay poet, described a beautiful sunset in Johannesburg as a “balmy summer’s afternoon” in which Covered In Snow “should have been melting”.
Covered in Snow was red-hot, yes. She took on a full field of talented sprinting fillies, including Mike Azzie’s highly-regarded import San Fermin, outpaced them early and then kept them gamely at bay.
“Covered in Snow is smart and she’s outdone herself today,” said Yeni. “She feels like she’s improving still and she deserves respect for rising in class and winning again. She kicked again late. There is more to come from her.”
Yeni and owner/breeder Peter White paid tribute to Randjesfontein veteran Stenger, who has churned out good winners from a small string as far as most memories go back.
White said: “We’ve won this race before and we’ve run second, now we’ve won it again and I’m very proud. Touching wood (Covered in Snow) is something special and well done to Peter and Jenny Blythe, who raised her at Clifton Stud.”
Covered in Snow is a daughter of the Scott Brothers’ up-and-coming stallion Crusade from Blue Nevada. This was the sire’s first stakes winner and his daughter’s third win from only four outings.
Photo: JC Photos.