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By Mike Moon

Horse racing correspondent

Striker is looking to see it all again

Veteran champion takes aim at a second Cape Town Met victory.

The longest-running saga in racing, the Piere Strydom retirement story, has a way to go yet.

The 58-year-old, six-time national champion, aka “Striker”, has been putting off quitting for years. And he definitely won’t be hanging up his saddle after Saturday’s WSB Cape Town Met – as was once hinted at.

He’s hoping the connections of his Met mount, red-hot odds-on shot See It Again, will keep him aboard the four-year-old crackerjack for the KZN winter season – and perhaps give him a tilt at a fifth Durban July victory.

After that?

“Well, I have had a few interesting proposals to keep going,” he revealed this week.

One of these offers is from burgeoning Joburg ownership syndicate Playgate, who want him not as a stable rider but as a retained “supersub” for selected runners.

That’s right up the street of Striker, a genius in a race but famously not fond of early-morning gallops drudgery.

Summer Cup bid

He rides the favourite, filly Bavarian Beauty, for Playgate in the R7.5-million Cape Racing Gold Rush sales race on the Met card.

Strydom can’t talk about the other proposal just yet, but it could keep him booting home winners for some time – all the while inching towards a once unimaginable 6,000 career mark.

What about a 2024 Summer Cup bid with See It Again?

“Wow, it would be a tough ask for him. The connections might not be too keen to try that; but if they do, I’m here!” he laughs.

Striker, a man who has always been proud of his high levels of fitness, does concede that advancing years are punishing.

“It’s mainly the weight question. It becomes much harder to get it down.”

Like most jockeys, he’s had fearsome injuries. Cracked vertebrae were inconvenient, but a detached retina was the worst, keeping him out of action for 14 months.

He’s riding fewer horses per week these days but does like to keep the body ticking over. This week he gratefully picked up a handful of chance rides at the Vaal – with an eye on sharpening the edge ahead of Saturday’s big occasion.

Riding opportunities remain good on the Highveld, his long-time base, and a plan for him and attorney wife Crisna to permanently relocate to Western Cape has been put on hold. The couple bought a house for themselves in the affluent wine-producing area of Constantia – “on the next street to Groot Constantia” – but then discovered the rent they could get for the abode was beyond their wildest dreams.
“That’s going incredibly well, and we’ll go with it for the moment.”

Met favourite

Also far removed from the blond bomber is his treasured mount See It Again, who, though from trainer Michael “Muis” Roberts’s KwaZulu-Natal stable, is resident at Milnerton for the Cape season – in Paddy Kruyer’s yard.

Strydom has not galloped the colt at all in preparation for the Met.

“Muis and Paddy and their teams have done a perfect job with him so far. The last thing he or they need is me going there and putting my foot in it! I know the horse now; we get on very well. We’ll be fine on race day.”

Striker cannot recall having ridden a Met favourite before in the scores of times he’s participated in the big race – let alone a 4-10 shot. His sole Met victory to date came in 2003 aboard 4-1 shot Angus, but unplaced Eventuail started as favourite that day.

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