Piere Strydom will never be accused of staying on for too long, because he has proved in his comeback that at the age of 56 he is still peerless in the jockey ranks.
He made the couple of good chances he had at today’s Vaal Classic track look like good things.
He revealed yesterday he is currently free of any knee issues, which have sometimes bothered him, and he looked many years younger than his actual age in the saddle today.
He also said he enjoyed riding at The Vaal and rated it one of the best racecourses around – that was also clear to see today.
He had six rides in total at the nine-race meeting.
In the fourth race over 1600m he was on the Heather Adamson-trained Wolff’s World (Ideal World), who looked a fair sort after notching up his second win in the February of his three-year-old season when running off an 85 merit rating in a 1600m handicap.
However, he had thereafter made a habit of making the backend of the frame without ever really threatening to win.
Today, Striker took full advantage of both Wolff World’s 77 merit rating, down from a high of 91, and his nice draw of three.
The weight of 58.5kg was ideal too, as it meant there would be hardly any deadweight, considering his riding weight at present of about 57.5kg.
He got his mount into a handy position and did not chase the hard pace being set by the front three.
Wolff’s World thus had plenty in the tank after being eased forward under a hold.
He burst through a gap before being driven out by Piere for an easy 1,50 length win.
Strydom showed his prowess in the next race. He was on the Gavin van Zyl-trained Philanthropist gelding Secret Giver.
After a good break which put the big horse in a handy position, Striker went for home way earlier than he had in the previous race, realising this horse is a big, resolute galloper, who was going to thrive on the long 1000m run in.
Once the horse had wound up into his big stride and found the lead nothing was going to stop him.
He won easing up by 2,75 lengths.
Strydom has five rides at Turffontein Inside on Saturday.
It will be fitting if he can do it on the Highveld’s flagship racecourse.
Turffontein was the venue, alongside the now defunct Gosforth Park, where his rise to “living legend’ status truly began.
Johannesburg fans of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s will never forget those days when he burst on to the scene with that habit of coming from the clouds and mowing the opposition down in front of packed grandstands.
5,500 winners will be an incredible milestone moment and it will be nice if he can reach it on Saturday with his wife and family present.
However, he revealed earlier this week he might only retire officially on WSB Cape Town Met day, after riding in the R7.5 million WSB Gold Rush (and hopefully the Met too).