It is amazing how life changes when you start doing well. I’ve had a couple of winners but it has a lot to do about getting the right ride at the right time.
Often I will phone for the ride I think is the best in a race and get turned down. I then call for my second choice, then third and fourth and get rejected on all of them. I go down to my fifth selection, and get the ride. To my dismay, I find my horse priced up favourite.
Now the trainer expects the horse to win because he tops the bookmakers’ boards and he in turn has to tell his owner the horse can win. So after the race when we haven’t won, nobody is happy and the first person who gets the blame is the jockey.
So the next time when the horse runs against weaker opposition, because of all the disappointment I don’t get the ride back.
If you keep taking rides at the wrong time you basically shoot yourself in the foot. As a jockey you have to earn a living and you hope that overall you’ll come out on top. Otherwise I would be watching from the grandstand and might as well turn up the game.
At the moment there are a number of top jockeys injured so I am able to get some of their rides. I am still getting support at times from the smaller yards but the big change is that the Azzie yard is using me on a more regular basis, Paul Peter is putting me on more of his better horses and now, as Randall Simons has moved to the Mike de Kock yard, I’m getting more rides from Alec Laird.
So hopefully now my form will continue. When I broke my collarbone two years ago I came back strongly to win the July and hopefully it is a good omen for this year.
The runners and draws for this year’s race have been revealed. It’s a rare occurrence for me to cry when I end up with No 2 draw but because Abashiri is not a good starter and as it is a big field, there is a chance it can get so bunched up that I’m definitely not going to be able to place him where I would like him to be.
I galloped Abashiri last week and even though he is not the fastest of horses, it was a pleasing gallop but what is good is that he is in a very happy mental state.
We will be going through the final field next week but my early fancies are African Night Sky and White River and both have attracted betting support.
We race on the Standside track at Turffontein tomorrow and I can tell you that right now the going is firm and fast. I’m sure some punters want to know if there is currently a bias on the track. Well, I can tell you that when you’re running on concrete there is no bias.
Race 1 is for juveniles. Victor Forth ran on strongly to finish second behind Soqrat in a Juvenile Plate and the word in the jockey room is that he is very decent. He could be a hard horse to beat.
I’m riding Gunston who ran second last time but he had everything going his way from a good draw so I’m hoping we place. There are a number of unraced horses so you need to take note of any betting moves.
Race 2 is a Juvenile Plate for fillies with Josie being my first selection. She has not raced for a couple of months and that is why you also need to include Boss Babe and Mambo Mae. For the Place Accumulator go with them and consider including a horse who attracts any betting.
I’m riding Brave Zndaya who has had many chances and as she sometimes misbehaves, I would be happy if she finds a minor place.
Race 3 is a Maiden Plate and it is worth noting that both Camel Walk and Shanghai Pierce ran well on Thursday. It might be wise to include Tequila Man and any unraced horse who attracts money. Go with Camel Walk, Tequila Man and Fort Carol in the PA and for the Pick 6 include The Barry Burn and Shanghai Pierce.
Race 4 is a Maiden Plate with the main runners being Awayinthewoods and White Book. Awayinthewoods is a PA banker and could even be a Pick 6 banker but if you want some back-up add in White Book.
Race 5 is Pinnacle Stakes which favours your best-handicapped horses but in this case there are a couple of young improvers to consider. My first selection is Dame Kelly who has to benefit having a claiming apprentice up. We also have to consider my ride, Arctica, who is the highest-rated runner and Pilou who has beaten Arctica.
Those should be good enough for the PA but for the Pick 6 include Divine Odyssey. If you have extra money in the kitty you might want to include the field as all of these horses have a winning chance.
Race 6 is another Pinnacle Stakes but this one is over 2400m. Hermoso Mundo is the highest merit-rated horse and looks a class above his opposition. He has beaten all of these horses, is drawn No 1 and has the benefit of a 4kg claimer on his back so over this distance it should be a huge advantage.
Banker him in all bets.
Race 7 is another Pinnacle Stakes and on this occasion it is quite a competitive field. My main selections are Queen Laurie and Wrecking Ball from the Grant Maroun stable as both have 4kg claimers up. That could make the difference between winning and losing.
Include both in the PA and choose either Exquisite Touch or Trip To Heaven as your third choice.
For the Pick 6 add in Champagne Haze and Rocky Valley. You could easily also include Arabian Beat, Just As I Said and Clever Guy as well.
I ride Romi’s Boy who is well held on form and worse off at the weights with most of them. I will be happy to find a place.
Race 8 is a handicap with my first selection being Donny G. He has a 4kg claimer up but the race does not stop there. Other inclusions must be Sporting Monarch and Humble Addict. There are also others with decent form who could pop up so include Premier Show, my ride Torre Del Oro, African Ruler and Great Shaka in the Pick 6.