THE big day has arrived for South Africa’s young riders Lyle Hewitson, Muzi Yeni and Aldo Domeyer. They will be taking on teams representing the rest of the world including top-ranked Joao Moreira and Hugh Bowman at the Premier Gateway International Jockeys Challenge at Kranji in Singapore today.
The trio has spent much of the last 24 hours at media conferences, lunches and official functions – it goes with this high-profile territory – and it’s been a roller-coaster of glitz and glamour for all, something they hope will culminate in good performances on the racetrack for their country.
Champion jockey Lyle Hewitson and Muzi Yeni both got third places in their first rides at Kranji on Sunday and Lewiston told Turf Talk: “I am glad we too the rides to familiarise ourselves with the track. It’s a tight circuit, the pace is on and they race quite cramped when they go down the straight to the winning line, perhaps something we were not used to but adapted to quickly.”
Hewitson picked up a short suspension for his ride on Dicton in the El Dorado Classic, charged with “careless riding” and he explained: “It happened early in the race when the runners tighten up quickly and jostled for position. I found myself in the thick of things, in the middle of the bunch.”
He added: “When In got back and I was called in I was surprised, I didn’t realise I had done something wrong but according to the rules here I was guilty and I accepted that and I was treated courteously. It didn’t put a dampener on my weekend at all, I was delighted to have found a place on Dicton.”
Hewitson said that he and Yeni had been treated like royalty and that they were thoroughly enjoying themselves. “The weather’s good, the people are friendly and our fellow-jockeys have been helpful.”
He said about the Singapore thoroughbreds: “They’re decent, the Gr3 runner felt more or less on a par with what we have in South Africa.”
Hewitson confirmed that both his knees, hurt in recent injuries, were 100% in order.
Yen spoke to journalist Michael Lee and said: “I watch Singapore races on TV broadcast back home, and I had also already done my homework before riding here. We also have Polytrack in Port Elizabeth, but this one is more cambered and is a real quick track,” said Yeni who has also ridden in Brazil, Greece and Mauritius.
“When we were told we could ride here at the Group race meeting, I put my name forward, together with Lyle and Aldo.
“It’s always great for any jockey to ride in a Group race anywhere in the world. It was therefore an honour and privilege to come and ride here on such a big stage.”
Gareth Pepper spoke briefly about their rides and said: “Aldo’s rides look a bit plain but you never know at this level, there could be surprises. Lyle should win Race 2, he has a good mount called Wonderful Paint. He also has a good ride, Mo Almighty, in Race 6 which is not a part of the Challenge. I think Muzi’s best ride will be in Race 4 on Moritz Eclipse.”
The action starts on Tellytrack from 12.20pm this afternoon.