This week, our tour of the equine-world takes in South Africa, and we pick out our Top 5 South African Jockeys from the present and the past.
Lerena is probably best known for breaking Michael Roberts’ 30-year-old record for the most winners ridden by an apprentice in South Africa, which he did by recording 283 wins on his way to being crowned South Africa Champion Apprentice in 2005, 2006 and 2007, whilst he also finished 14th in the Jockeys’ Championship in 2007. He continued to move up the table from then, finally winning the Jockeys’ Championship in 2014 with 220 winners from 1,106 rides. He failed to defend his title in 2015, but currently leads the 2016/17 Championship.
The 32-year-old has twice been crowned Champion Jockey in South Africa. He took 1,381 rides on his way to claiming his first title with 185 winners in 2013, and then rode a seriously impressive 243 winners from 1,348 rides to capture his second title in 2015. However, he is most famous for being the first black-jockey to ride the winner of the prestigious Durban July Handicap – all of which is pretty good for a man who didn’t see his first horse until he was 14-years-old.
Marcus is most famous for rattling-up a hat-trick of South African Jockey Championships between 2009 and 2011. In doing so, he impressed with stunning strike-rates of 30%, 27% and 29%, with 197 winners from 649 rides, 234 winners from 838 rides, and 2015 winners from 704 rides.
Shea had to retire from race-riding in 2014 after he problems with his back left him un-fit to ride. He is now enjoying a second-career commentating on the sport he loves, but he will always be remembered mainly for his partnership with globe-trotting South African trainer Mike de Kock. He rode his first Grade-1 winner as an apprentice, a race which saw legendary punter Cyril Hurvitz land a massive betting-coup, whilst he regards the fillies Ipi Tombe and Sun Classique as two of the best horses he ever rode, with the latter winning the Dubai Sheema Classic in 2008.
Michael “Muis” Roberts
Nicknamed “The Mouse”, Roberts is perhaps the best-known of all South African jockeys in Britain, as the former Champion South African Apprentice became British Champion Jockey in 1992, stopping the legendary Pat Eddery winning 5 consecutive titles. His most famous horse was Mtoto, whom he rode to win The Eclipse twice, with his victims including the Derby winner Reference Point. Mtoto also won the 1988 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes under Roberts.