15.1.2021 01:33 pm
Roberts won 11 South African jockey championships. Then he went to Britain and took their title –with a monumental freelancer effort in 1992.
The first mention of the boy taking up a career as a jockey came when he was at school. A new teacher told him to stand up behind his desk in class. “But I was already standing up,” he recalls with a chuckle many years later.
Jockeys are not usually subjects of pity in the racing world – being convenient blame targets for lousy gambles – but right now one does feel a little empathy with them.
The high quality – and consistency – of South Africa’s elite racehorses has scared off the connections of many a potential challenger for the 2021 LÓrmarins Queen’s Plate (Grade 1) on Saturday 9 January.
Only people with an Essential Service Permit will be allowed onto South African racecourses, while Jockeys will have to stay and ride in a province of their choosing.
We might not be allowed onto beaches, and scary new Covid-19 infection rates will keep us away from other public places, but there is no shortage of horse racing action to keep racing aficionados occupied over the coming holiday week.
In what could be a first for the country in 50 years, the Randjesfontein Training Centre near Midrand might be developed into a state-of-the-art racecourse.
Russian Rock’s owner says his conservative approach to racing, and not over-extending his charge is not going to change – even with the coveted Guineas trophy safely in the cabinet.
Music has a calming effect on horses and spinning tunes in the stable is likely to become a new trend in the training of performance horses, including racehorses.
When the Alexanders leave their Turffontein stables, scores of jobs will be lost and a South African family racing dynasty will vanish.
Belgarion, winner of the 2020 Vodacom Durban July, is one of the marquee names of an all-star cast taking the Kenilworth stage on Saturday.
The year 2020 will be infamous for decades to come, and anything with that number attached to it will be instantly something apart – for example, names on trophies and honours boards.
Hong Kong is suffering its fourth wave of Covid-19 infections, not to mention ongoing scary political turmoil, yet it has resolutely pushed ahead with its famous international racing festival this week.
With the R1 million Grade 1 Met, the silver lining is the 25 nominations containing most of the best horses in the country – so Cape Town’s historic, prestigious race will not lack quality.
Some racing fans might think she’s better than that, having fallen head-over-heels in love with the charismatic filly after her feats of the past year: nine wins from nine starts, a Triple Tiara, three Grade 1 triumphs and a “major” in the bag.
Racing will not come to an immediate halt following the shock decision to stop issuing permits for horses to be transported around the country. But the outlook for 2021 is very uncertain.