Mike Moon
Horse racing correspondent
2 minute read
13 Jan 2022
8:32 am

Apprentice jockeys are in short supply

Mike Moon

Two of the apprentice events have drawn big fields of 15 runners, but they have jockey “blanks” as riders couldn’t be found at first.

Brave young riders take to the field on Thursday as the Vaal Racecourse hosts the Apprentice Jockey Day. Picture: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

The Vaal racecourse hosts an apprentice jockey day on Thursday, with three races dedicated to the brave young people trying to carve out a career in a notoriously difficult game. Just how difficult and daunting it is is illustrated by the fact that there might not be enough appies to go around!

Two of the apprentice events have drawn big fields of 15 runners, but they have jockey “blanks” as riders couldn’t be found at first. Maybe some “lighties” will be rustled up at the last minute, but punters should be aware there could be scratchings due to “no suitable rider”.

The National Horseracing Authority lists just 18 apprentice jockeys active in the whole of South Africa at present.

Reigning champion appy Kyle Strydom will be hoping to make some inroads into Rachel Venniker’s current-season log lead, thanks to – on paper – slightly better rides than her on the day.

First up, Strydom partners Ideal Wolff in Race 2, an Apprentice Classified Stakes over 2400m and the first leg of the PA. This is far from being a nap bet, but the gelding is always a trier and is having his peak run in rather modest company.

In Race 4, an FM64 Apprentice Handicap, Strydom rides Pick A Lily, who was a model of consistency until her most recent two runs, when she was well below her usual standard – possibly due to a minor ailment. If she gets back her old zest, she’ll surely be a factor in the race.

Indus Knight in the sixth, a MR66 Apprentice Handicap over 1600m, is Strydom’s best chance on the day. The Paul Peter-trained gelding ran a good third in his post maiden last time out and appears to be a progressive sort.

The standout bet at the meeting is Benguela Cove in Race 5.


1: 4 Sing Girl Sing, 3 Night Lily, 5 Ubiquitas, 1 Tuuletar

2: 5 Ideal Wolff, 11 Ontheverge, 2 Clarkson, 7 Western Dance

3: 7 Moonshiningthrough, 9 Right Choice, 1 Bequest, 3 Kayla’s Champ

4: 6 Samoa, 5 Fantasy Flower, 9 Sabrina Fairchild, 4 Theroseofbecharre

5: 8 Benguela Cove, 9 Goddess Of Light, 3 Florentine, 4 Hey Gorgeous

6: 6 Indus Knight, 2 Elusive Swann, 4 Willow Lane, 5 Sybaris

7: 2 Southern Blaze, 8 Sister Light, 1 Leading Lad, 5 Letsdoit

8: 7 Dame Of Flames, 4 Anatura, 2 Call Me Master, 9 Flying First Class

Pick 6: 1,7,9 x 1,4,5,6,7,9 x 8,9 x 2,3,4,5,6 x 2,8 x 2,4,6,7,9 (R1800)

PA: 2,5,11 x 7,9 x 5,6,9 x 8 x 2,6 x 2 x 4,7 (R72)