Jockeys are supremely fit athletes and anyone who doubts the skills required in getting the best out of a racehorse would do well to watch replays of the two ‘non-professional’ races run at Hollywoodbets Scottsville yesterday.
Aron Xabendlini is a seasoned work rider and is vastly more experience than his fellow participants in the KZN work rider’s series. That experience held him in good stead as he wrapped up all three legs in a tight finish on Dennis Drier’s charge Liquidity. But he was a tad lucky as the inexperience and lack of racing fitness took its toll on Tristan Mustard who went down by the narrowest of margins on Kom Naidoo’s runner Juniper Lane.
As the line loomed, Xabendlini kept the favourite together while Mustard tried to get there before his mount, losing rhythm as his condition gave out and becoming unbalanced. It was valuable experience for the grandson of ex-jockey Leslie Mustard, successful on the Dessie Rich-trained Lightning Shot in the 1977 July.
It was a no-sticks-allowed contest as was the Qatar National Stud Apprentice Cup. The SA Jockey Academy is currently hosting a number of Qatari apprentices who have been riding out in the mornings although many trainers have been reluctant to use their services, mainly due to a language barrier.
But they have been well schooled in other areas at the academy and the Apprentice Cup was the culmination of their South African venture.
Favourite Celebration Rock was possibly an unlucky loser but his rider Salah Salem made a full tour of the Scottsville straight, his piece de resistance left for last as he cannoned into eventual winner Harmonica. Riding to instructions from Duncan Howells, Abdulla Rashid kept his head down and pushed all the way to the line to record an indelible memory, his first race ride being a winner.
It was something of a rat-race behind these two with no quarter asked and there were a few heated exchanges amongst colleagues back in the weighing room and a stern talking to by the stipendiary stewards.
By Andrew Harrison