In the Saturday edition of The Citizen, printed on January 31, 2015, Nicci Garner interviewed Bernard Fayd’Herbe, winner of the J&B Met.
Jockey Bernard Fayd’Herbe is ice cool under pressure, as he showed when bringing Futura from last to first in the R1-million L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate this month.
He will need to be just as calm when he partners Futura again in Cape Town’s premier race, the R2.5 million J&B Met, at Kenilworth today.ockey Bernard Fayd’Herbe is ice cool under pressure, as he showed when bringing Futura from last to first in the
R1-million L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate this month.
It’s a bigger field this time, and experts are expecting a pedestrian pace, so there’s likely to be scrimmaging in the pack. Futura may have to circumnavigate traffic when the runners turn into the home straight at the 600-metre mark.
Trainer Brett Crawford’s charge has a burst of acceleration worthy of a Ferrari though, and his “sweet” nature will allow 33-year-old Fayd’Herbe, who knows him well, to make calculated choices.
Fayd’Herbe has little doubt Futura will run the race of his life when the gates spring open at around 4.45pm.
“He’s doing really well and I’m very happy with his work going into the race,” said the jockey.
He admits he will be keeping Louis The King in his sights because “he’s the horse to beat”.
But Futura usually delivers a prime effort on the important occasions, such as in the Grade 1 Queen’s Plate and in the Grade 1 Champions Cup at the end of last season – or even when unlucky to only finish third in the
Vodacom Durban July.
Fayd’Herbe is also on a big-race roll, having won two of the six major races run so far this season – the other was on Act Of War in the Cape Guineas last month.
Durban-born Fayd’Herbe has won the Met twice before – he rode Pocket Power to victory in 2008 and 2009. Jeff Lloyd, his idol and mentor in his early years, rode Pocket Power to his first Met victory in 2007 because Fayd’Herbe couldn’t make the weight of 53kg.
Twelve-year-old Pocket Power is still his favourite horse and he often pops out to Constantia to ride the “old man”.
“He’s loving retirement,” said Fayd’Herbe. “You can still feel he’s a machine and he’s still a difficult horse to ride.”
Pocket Power might hold the biggest place in Fayd’Herbe’s heart, but he is quickly bonding with Futura, who he has ridden twice in races.
He often rides him in the mornings, especially loving their time on the beach when they wade girth-deep into the cold waves for some sea-water therapy. “It’s a bit of fun and the horses love it,” he said.
Although he has impeccable racing bloodlines – he is a grandson of legendary Tiger Wright, a multiple champion jockey in SA from 1934 to 1964 – he was not blessed with his father’s small frame and has battled continuously with his weight.
Weighing in at 58.5kg has limited his options severely, but that hasn’t stopped him booting home 1 266 winners in South Africa. These include 32 at the highest level on well-known horses such as champion sprinter What A Winter, as well as Big City Life and Dancer’s Daughter, who both won the Durban July under other riders.
He grew up from age seven in Mada-
gascar and rode in amateur races there as a youngster, catching the eye of trainer Neil Bruss, who was on the island to help establish a formal racing industry. Bruss suggested Fayd’Herbe and his brother, Robert, apply to the SA Jockeys’ Academy.
His apprenticeship did not get off to the start everyone was hoping for because, sadly, Wright died on December 12, 1995 – the day Fayd’Herbe had his interview with the academy.
Nonetheless, he started his five-year apprenticeship a month later and rode a winner on his first mount, Dollar Deal, for the late Michael Roberts on April 8, 1997.
“I thought that day, this game’s easy! I soon found out differently.”
He has always loved to travel and has won several races abroad, including his most famous international win on JJ The Jet Plane in the Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan in 2011. He also finished se-cond in Saudi Arabia’s premier race, the King’s Cup, on Bruss-trained Paris Perfect. Other countries his itchy feet have taken him to include Singapore, Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, France, Mauritius, Zimbabwe and Canada.
Weight issues force many jockeys to throw in the towel – his brother did and became assistant trainer to the powerful Mike Bass yard. However, Fayd’Herbe does not plan to hang up his saddle for a long while. That means he has to be strict about his exercise regime and diet, which is a far cry from normal and must be hard to maintain with a sponsor like Portuguese restaurant Vasco’s Taverna.
“I may be on diet all the time and hardly ever eat carbs, but I love what I do and live to find those big horses,” he says.