This weekend has been quite exciting for the Strydom family. Many of us are involved in the racing game, myself as a jockey and my father and brother as trainers.
As a result, I’m amazed that only one other member of the family has shown interest in horse racing, and that is my nephew Kyle, who is Jacques’ son. He has always displayed an interest in becoming a jockey but as a precaution, he has taken the alternative route of using the work riders’ programme as his entrance to the sport. There were times it appeared he would be too big and there were stages when he stayed quite small and it looked more likely he could become a jockey.
As a result, my brother has insisted he completes his education first. There have been many riders who have gone that route, the most obvious being Lyle Hewitson, who has become the country’s champion jockey.
This system has to be a good alternative to the academy as I have seen young boys turned down by the academy because they were too big, but they remained small and could have become decent jockeys but did not get the chance. You can’t blame the people making the decision because nobody really knows how people will turn out, but this is a back door which can help those for whom the front door has been shut.
So, Kyle had his first ride in Race 1 at Fairview yesterday when he rode Maid So Far. The horse had uninspiring form but the main aim was for him to have a nice ride first up and to enjoy the experience.
I look back at my first ride, which was around the turn at Greyville, and the whole experience to me is like a blur. I remember one of the senior jockeys started shouting to me at one point to push my horse out.
Today we are racing on the Standside track at Turffontein and we kick off with a Maiden Plate over 1400m, which means it starts on the bend so the draw should be important. But this time I am making my first selection Steady Way, who does jump from the worst draw but she ran very well when slowly away in her first run and maybe, with a good start, she could be a lot closer and be good enough to win.
The dangers are Favourite Model, who is having her first run after a couple of months, and Jacko Boy, who is racing fit and has reasonable form
Race 2 is a Conditions Plate for fillies and mares over 1400m, which should suit the best-handicapped runner, who in this case is Fresnaye. She has competed against the best fillies in the country and did not disgrace herself at all.
The Cape Town horses have done well overall and she has to be the horse to beat. For BiPots she should be a banker.
The dangers should be the Sean Tarry coupling of Redberry Lane and Celtic Sea. I ride Redberry Lane who is an honest performer and what you see is what you get.
Race 3 is a Maiden Plate over 1400m and once again the draw comes into play. But once again I’ve gone against that principle and have selected Stockbridge, who has a bad draw to overcome. So for the Place Accumulator include Stockbridge, but consider one more as back-up, and that is either Excellent Al or Setablaze.
Race 4 is a fillies’ handicap with my first selection being Waity Katie. As this is a small field she could be a PA banker but for the Pick 6 you need to include My Dream Chaser.
Race 5 is another handicap and on this occasion just about every horse has a chance. For the Pick 6 you could cut it down to Great Shaka and Whorly Whorly and for the PA you could make Great Shaka a banker.
Race 6 is another fillies’ handicap and my first choice is Vistula, even though she has campaigned over longer distances in her last two runs. She won her maiden over a similar distance and after that ran in feature-race company and was not disgraced at all. Her danger is Rock A Roll Dancer.
For the PA I would banker Vistula and for the Pick 6 include Rock A Roll Dancer and Boss Babe.
Race 7 is the Senor Santa Stakes and being a plated race the best-handicapped horse should come out on top. In this case, it is Green Plains, but it looks a lot more difficult as there are many horses who could still improve.
My selections are as follows: Billy Silver, Mardi Gras, Exquisite Touch and Cirillo. So include all four in the Place Accumulator but for the Pick 6 add in Green Plains. But you might still need a lot more runners so take whatever you may like, although it could even be worth going with the field.
I’m riding Red Chesnut Road who should find this a bit too short but I’m hoping he produces a good run as he has some features planned up here in Gauteng.
Race 8 is the Drum Star Handicap where quite a lot of good horses have chances. They are Hero’s Honour, Dawn Assault, Noble Secret, Social Order and The Dazzler, but my first choice is Pietro Mascagni.
As there are many with chances, include Pietro Mascagni and Hero’s Honour in the PA and for the Pick 6 all of those mentioned.
I’m riding Cash Time, who could find this distance on the short side, but hopefully with blinkers on for the first time he will show a lot more zest and run into the places.
Race 9 is a fillies’ handicap and it looks quite open, so you might need to go wide. My main selections are Solemn Promise, Serendipity, Jetorio, Flowing Gown, Western Dance and All I Got. They all need to go into the Pick 6 and for the PA go with any four. If you feel these are not enough for the Pick 6 then include the field.
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