Horses / Horse News

Nick Gordon
1 minute read
5 Jul 2014
10:00 am

SA’s jockeys are envied

Nick Gordon

There has always been a general abundance of sporting talent in South Africa.

South African Jockey Academy headmaster Graham Bailey speaks to The Citizen during an interview at the school in Durban, 04 July 2014. Three students from the academy will ride in the 2014 Durban July that takes place at the Greyville racecourse on Satruday 05 July 2014. Picture: Refilwe Modise

It’s not limited to certain sporting codes either and today will be a chance for the horsemen of South Africa to showcase their talents in one of the biggest events on the calendar, the Durban July.

The class of 2014 in this year’s field is limited to 16 riders, all of whom will chase glory as they come out of the final bend with a little more than 400m to go.

Some jockeys have experienced the thrill of winning one of the jewels in South African horseracing and for others it could be a defining moment in their riding careers.

For the group of apprentices at the South African Jockey Academy, it will be an opportunity for motivation as they aim to fulfil their dreams of one day competing in, and possibly winning, this illustrious event.

For now though, their ambitions are limited to the training tracks at Summerveld, although there are a few who have qualified to ride in races, but a tour of the facility yesterday highlighted a number of reasons that South African riders are considered among the best in the world.

“It takes hard work. You’ve got to be self-disciplined because getting up at 4am every morning of your life is not the easiest thing out,” Graham Bailey, headmaster at the Academy, as it is known in racing circles, said yesterday.

The life of a jockey can be a tough one with injuries, travel and early mornings all part of the territory but it is the days like the July that make it all worthwhile.

– Follow The Citizen’s reporting team from the Vodacom Durban July on Twitter @CitiReporter.