Rachel Venniker has gone from nowhere to being one of the most sought-after riders in South Africa in less than three months. Six weeks into the new racing season she tops the apprentice jockeys’ log, is fifth on the KwaZulu-Natal table and 11th overall in the country.
Not many young riders have enjoyed such a rapid elevation in status. Luck? Perhaps a little, but the key thing is Rachel keeps delivering.
Venniker revels in the beginner’s 4kg weight allowance, so trainers seeking to lighten loads on fancied runners have her on speed-dial. For now. When she gets to 20 career winners, the allowance drops to 2.5kg; at 40 it’s down to 1.5kg and at 60 to zero.
The hot property is currently on 11 wins and has good chances to boost that total when racing is staged on the Greyville Polytrack on Monday.
Most of her victories have come for trainer Michael Roberts and she partners four of his charges on this eight-race card.
She will attempt a hat-trick on Tupelo Honey in Race 4, an FM72 Handicap over 1600m. Venniker and the grey mare first teamed up on 11 July and got on like a house on fire, going from gun to wire to win convincingly over 1400m on the Poly.
On 16 August it looked like a replay as they never looked like being headed – this time over 1600m.
There is little to suggest that they can’t simply do it all again for a third time.
One race earlier, Venniker and Roberts tackle a Maiden Plate for females with the filly Hatta, who has also found her best form with a switch to front-running tactics. Last time, over 1400m on turf, the willowy appy chased Hatta to the lead and hung on until the very last strides, when two chasers managed to squeeze past.
That performance and a newfound connection with her rider will have given Hatta a confidence boost and she has a decent chance to get out of the maidens.
Patronage in the sixth and Kileigh’s Fate in the seventh are two more Roberts runners who could respond positively to the new kid on the block – as could Gavin van Zyl’s Zero Rate in the first.
7 Without Doubt, 9 Quality Joker, 8 Tales Of Us, 3 Bourbon Beat
8 Lucretius, 4 Bold Premier, 1 Bend The Rules, 6 Estival
6 Hatta, 8 Burmese Tiara, 9 Princess Tea, 11 Tostada
1 Tupelo Honey, 4 Sacred Lotus, 7 Comet Crystal, 9 Unconditional Love
1 Quick Star, 9 African Sunrise, 4 Straight Up, 6 Magical Midlands
2 Knight Warrior, 5 The Gaul, 9 Ancient State, 3 Running Freely
2 Space Race, 10 Kileigh’s Fate, 11 Beckoning Beauty, 1 Humdinger
7 Phaka Imali, 6 Alma Mater, 5 Freedom Dancer, 2 Guy Fox
6,8,9 x 1,4,7,9 x 1,4,6,9 x 2,3,5,9 x 1,2,10,11 x 6,7 (R1536)
8 x 6,8,9 x 1 x 1,9 x 2,5 x 2,10 x 7 (R24)