A few weeks ago we called in our Turf Talk Newsletter for bookmakers to price up on the 2016/17 SA National Jockeys’ Title and, looking at the latest log, we repeat our call today.
This goes along with a plea for someone to put a decent sponsorship on the line for the individual who will prove to be the bravest in what is already a neck-and-neck race. If this was a horse race, this is the stage where the runners will be approaching the home stretch. There are eight necks and three half-a-lengths between them, respectively, and they’re all travelling on the bit!
Only 8 winners separate the Top 5 jockeys, just 7 winners separate the next three, with another small gap to positions 9 and 10 on the top 10. With all eyes on the prize, there are no certainties.
To make matters more interesting, there are two multiple former champions making steady progress in the next group of 10.
The top trainers are spreading their rides around, which means that the hardest-working among these will be the likely winner come 31 August. Who will it be? Who will have the most energy and the biggest will to win?
Hard-working professional Greg Cheyne, who has a retainer with one of Brett Crawford’s leading patrons and rides the pick of Alan Greeff’s runners in Port Elizabeth, has kept his head in front gamely and is on top with 73 winners, followed by the relentless Andrew Fortune (71), who looks like he needs a walking stick and an oxygen mask but still gets his mounts home with his trademark precision timing.
Young Craig Zackey is cool and collected for his years – the 21-year-old is on 66 winners and would arguably have lead the race if not for a 22-day suspension earlier this year.
Anton Marcus is next on 65 winners, he has an amazing 26% strike rate and a comfort zone of proportions. Evergreen Anton probably has better things to do than challenging the youngsters for the title, but you never know!
Richard Fourie, arguably the best among them, has a single thing to do to win the race: Put his mind to it, for 12 full months. The swashbuckling rider shares fourth place with Marcus and has a 23% strike rate without a retainer, which is amazing.
Stylish and accomplished Gavin Lerena is settling back in after overseas exploits and a suspension and shares 5th place with the injured Anthony Delpech. If Gavin stays around for a lengthy period, he cannot possibly miss the Top 3.
The tireless Muzi Yeni is holding his own again – he is in eight spot with 56 winners and, being no stranger to the Top 3, will be throwing the diminutive frame with the massive heart at the race again.
New to the Top 10 is the mercurial apprentice Lyle Hewitson, already regarded by some experts as the next Piere Strydom. Hewitson has ridden 47 winners from plenty of average mounts, he’s a rare talent and a Top 5 contender.
Classy light weight Randall Simons holds tenth spot with 45 winners, while ‘Striker’ himself booted home a fine treble at the Vaal yesterday, he shares 11th with reigning champ S’Manga Khumalo, who is also making rapid progress after his long suspension and has proven a few times that he can go on a catapulting roll of winners. He is not out of it by a long way.
Headline photo: Richard The Great: Can he put his mind to it, just once?