Kolisi’s work is done, of course. Yeni faces his destiny at Turffontein on Saturday 16 November.
MUZI YENI has some excellent rides at Flamingo Park today.
You could fit two Muzis Yenis into one Siya Kolisi.
The Springbok captain – an instant worldwide celebrity – is 1.88m tall (six foot two inches) and weighs 105kg. The jockey – less well-known internationally but a huge fan favourite at home – is 1.4m (four foot seven) and tips the scale at less than 49kg.
These two sporting superstars are rather different, but they have one important thing in common: they are the first black captains of a South African team taking on the world.
The diminutive rider leads a South African team that takes on six foreigners in the annual International Jockeys’ Challenge at Turffontein.
Four of the six visitors are English – with the other two also based in Britain – so there will be reminders of the Rugby World Cup.
Yeni’s teammates are Gavin Lerena, S’Manga Khumalo, Warren Kennedy, Callan Murray and Greg Cheyne.
Riding against them for the Internationals are captain Rab Havlin, the world’s most famous female jockey Hayley Turner, two-time British champion Paul Hanagan, the top-rated duo of Martin Dwyer and Franny Norton, and Italian Andrea Atzeni.
Turner is the big name and clearly loves coming to South Africa, but all the other visitors are well-above average campaigners.
Over about a decade this competition has been dominated by the South Africans, with the visitors only claiming two team victories. Obviously, the locals have greater knowledge of the Turffontein conditions, but it is also true that the clashes have been decided by the luck of the draw for rides.
On Saturday, things look very evenly matched – which is reflected in the betting for the team prize. South Africa is 19-20 while the Internationals are evens. The draw is 14-1.
The four International Challenge races are Races 5 to 8, which also make up the day’s Jackpot bet. The four events are so open the old phrase “anything can win” is most applicable.
Most of the 12 runners in each race are in decent form, and a further element of intrigue is added by barrier draws and several blinker strikes.
Englishman Dwyer has a promising book and the 13-2 on offer for him to win the victor ludorum prize might be a canny bet.
Adding further interest to the meeting is the Monaco Million Maiden Sprint, backed by Monaco’s royalty, which offers massive stake cheques to the connections of horses that have never won before.
Also carded are the first juvenile races of the current season.
Betting on IJC victor ludorum:
9-2 Muzi Yeni
11-2 Franny Norton, Gavin Lerena
13-2 Martin Dwyer
17-2 Rab Havlin, Hayley Turner
11-1 Paul Hanagan, Warren Kennedy
18-1 Callan Murray
22-1 S’Manga Khumalo, Greg Cheyne
28-1 Andrea Atzeni
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