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The two greatest South African jockeys of all time? Piere Strydom after riding See It Again to victory in the Grade 1 SplashOut Cape Derby for hall of fame jockey now trainer Michael Roberts (Picture: Wayne Marks)


Piere Strydom said last year upon announcing he would retire when reaching 5500 winners that he did not want to have to experience the retirement rumours that have  consistently been associated with Franke Dettori since about 2012.

However, he is now discovering how difficult it is for a top jockey to depart.
He said, “Obviously it would be crazy to retire when you are associated with a top horse.”
He credits the International Racing Club’s Joao De Mata for initially extending his career by asking him to become the regular rider for the Gareth van Zyl-trained Money Heist. 
However, since then he has won the Grade 2 Ridgemont Highlands Peninsula Handicap on the Justin Snaith-trained Nexus, the Grade 2 Wilgerbosdrift Gauteng Fillies Guineas on the Joe Soma-trained Lady Of Power and the Grade 1 SplashOut Cape Derby on the Michael Roberts-trained See It Again.
Lady Of Power has moved to the Mike Azzie yard but Piere is still aboard for Saturday’s Grade 1 Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic.
He said she had always struck him as a horse who would enjoy 1800m, although she has drawn widest of all in the 12 horse field.
He is also still aboard Money Heist for the Grade 1 WSB SA Classic and at last this Gimmethegreenlight colt has landed a good draw of four.
He said it was very refreshing that the connections had retained faith in him after the colt had run unplaced in three starts from terrible draws, which had made his task very tough. Money Heist’s finishing effort from last in the Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas to run a 6,90 length sixth was eyecatching. He runs as if he will get the 1800m trip, but his Lecture dam was a sprinter and the female line is generally speedy, so there is some doubt.
Piere said somebody had told him recently he had scored 97 Grade 1 wins, so Saturday’s Cape Derby victory would in that case make it 98.
If the number could be confirmed there could be a new incentive to stay on to achieve 100 Grade 1 victories!
Piere was grateful to the Snaiths for immediately alerting the connections of See It Again about his availability after the scratching of his original mount Itsrainingwilliam.
He said Charles Dickens was always going to be suspect over the trip, which had given the rest of the field a chance.
He said Muis had told him See It Again was an easy ride, but that he took time to wind up and tended to hit a flat spot.
Muis had added the main problem was in the starting stalls.
Piere said, “He does not go mad, but tends to take a backward step once he is in, so it’s difficult to jump well. Muis told me not to panic if he was near the back after the start. He told me to almost ride him for a place, meaning I should ride him with confidence and if good enough he would get there and there was no need to chase him and send him for home too early.”
See It Again duly took a backward step in the stalls.
Piere said, “He didn’t jump great. I was hoping to be in front of Charles Dickens, because if it was a slow run I was not going to outsprint him in the straight.”
However, it worked out well and Piere explained, “I had him in my sights and obviously he was the right horse to track in the straight.”
Piere said it was only in the last 100m he realised he could win.
He did not try and go with Charles Dickens when the latter kicked, because he had to ride his mount according to his capabilities. He said chasing at that stage would mean a likelihood of the horse not getting home.
He also did not know how much Charles Dickens still had in the tank.
When See It Again subsequently produced a good kick he thought he could run second.
However, when he saw Charles Dickens beginning to hang in in the last 1000m he realised he could win.
He said, “He won full of running and it is a lekker feeling when that happens in a Grade 1.”
He said he had been disappointed on the day with Al Muthana, whom he had ridden previously in the WSB Met.
Al Muthana ran in the LIsted Jet Master Stakes over 1600m and Piere said, “He was well handicapped and I thought he would win.”
However, the Deep Field gelding ran a bit of a flat race, staying on at one pace for fourth after being well placed from draw two. 
However, he did have to carry 62kg and he gave the winner Pacaya, who beat him by 2,85 lengths, a whopping 11kg.
Piere said he had got absolutely no run in the straight on Al Muthana in the Met and he had made up some ground without ever moving on him. He said it was therefore difficult to know whether he stayed 2000m or not or whether he would stay the Hollywoodbets Durban July 2200m trip.
His presence in the July might dictate whether Piere is able to ride See It Again or not.
As things stand See It Again will have to carry 53,5kg if Al Muthana runs, but if he doesn’t run he will carry 57kg.
Piere at this stage of his career would obviously prefer to ride a July horse carrying 57kg and might not be able to make 53.5kg anyway.