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RICHARD Fourie put five winners on the board on his return from a suspension, at Greyville on Sunday, pushing his seasonal tally to 37 winners, 16 behind the in-form log-leader, Muzi Yeni, who is on 53 winners.

They’re both worthy of and chasing their first SA National Jockeys crown, a long-time coming for both, and just over two months into the 2023/4 season their rivalry is getting even more exciting.

Muzi failed to get on the board, Sunday, and while he still has a nice cushion of winners, he, of all jockeys, knows how quickly things can go pear-shaped in racing. 

He said on Monday: “Richard is a top rider and a great competitor and his five wins gave me a wake-up call. In my view, it could have been six. Either way, it just reminded me not to rest on any laurels, to stay focused and give my best. I am working tirelessly, seven days a week to achieve my goal of getting the title. It’s an ambition for Richard, too, so it will be a contest all the way.”

Muzi said that he’d reached a level of maturity and experience that serves him well. “I’ve been trying not to think of the championship every day, rather to focus on riding every horse to the best of my ability. Richard has KZN wrapped with most of the top trainers and he gets good rides elsewhere. My agent and I are trying hard to stay ahead on form, getting some choice mounts, but it’s not easy.”

He added that he didn’t want the challenge to become an all-consuming obsession. “If I don’t win it, then so be it. Richard is a professional, he is quoted at 6-10 or something like that to win and he should be! I read somewhere I am at 5 or 6-1. But if I can go along the way I have, riding consistently well, and if I can better my personal best this season, that will be good.”

Muzi rode a career best 216 winners in 2018/19, going down by just three winners to Lyle Hewitson. At his current rate of 25 winners per month he will get to 300. Richard posted 258 winners in his best season, 2022/3. Things are going to average out over the next few months as they compete for rides. Who is your money on?