Muzi Yeni’s hard work has paid dividends and he extended his lead in the National Jockeys Championships last week but he said his biggest challenge going into the final three months would be landing quality rides.
In an intriguing struggle Yeni is currently on 153 winners, reigning champion Lyle Hewitson is on 149, four-time champion Anton Marcus is on 146 and once champion Gavin Lerena is on 126.
Yeni said, “The Championship is going to boil down to support and I am struggling to get quality rides. I am not getting the first two choices of ride I am phoning for, even in Kimberley, and am having to settle for third best.”
Yeni has recently added stand alone Cape Town meetings to his schedule so is now riding in all five centres and is literally race-riding seven days a week.
Hewitson rides in three centres, Gauteng, KZN and Port Elizabeth, but has the support of two powerful yards, Sean Tarry in Gauteng and KZN and Yvette Bremner in PE.
Anton Marcus is retained by Ridgemont Stud, whose horses chiefly run in Cape Town, and he otherwise freelances. He is highly sought after and has first choice of ride in many races in KZN. He is riding to a phenomenal strike rate of 29,98% strike rate as opposed to Yeni’s 11.93% and Hewitson’s 14,86%.
Lerena is riding to a 26,20% strike rate and could become a contender if deciding to chase the title.
On top of Yeni’s busy race-riding schedule he is also known, alongside Hewitson, as probably the hardest working jockey at track in the mornings.
He work rides on all the mornings when not travelling.
Yeni books his own rides except for Durban and Cape Town which are covered by his agent Ray Curling.
He enjoys good support from Robbie Sage in Gauteng, Gavin Smith in PE and Corrie Lensley in Kimberley.
He admitted his schedule impacts heavily on the quality of his family life.
However, winning the championship could open new doors and help him realise his dream of riding in places like Hong Kong and Singapore.
He feels he is riding well at the moment but added, “There is always room for improvement.”
Yeni has not booked a Vodacom Durban July ride yet but is riding the Weiho Marwing-trained Samurai Warrior in the Grade 2 KRA Guineas on SA Champions Season opening night, Friday May 3.
Samurai Warrior gets automatic entry into the July as the winner of the SA Derby.
Yeni will continue to chase the championship and gave himself a shout of hanging on to his lead.
He concluded, “If I get beaten I know I will have given it my best effort.”
By David Thiselton