Muzi Yeni will lead the South African team at this year’s World Sports Betting International Jockey Challenge supported by Sun International and Air Mauritius, at Turffontein on Saturday 16 November.
At the official launch of this year’s event at Turffontein on Wednesday, Larry Wainstein, CEO of the Racing Association, said the event will return to South Africa after having been staged in Singapore last year. “They promised we could have it back this year and we’re delighted to host it again.”
The South African team is made up of the top four finishers on last season’s log, and two wild cards. Unfortunately, Lyle Hewitson is unavailable as he is contracted to ride in Hong Kong, Richard Fourie declined the invitation due to other commitments, and Anton Marcus, although very eager to represent his country, could only confirm his participation closer to the event.
The four who do qualify for the International Jockeys’ Challenge are Yeni, Gavin Lerena, Greg Cheyne and Warren Kennedy. The wild cards have been given to Callan Murray and S’manga Khumalo.
Five of the six members of the international team were announced, and they are Rab Havlin (Scotland), Paul Hanagan, Martin Dwyer and Hayley Turner from England and Italy’s Andrea Atzeni. The final team member will be announced in due course.
Commenting on their involvement, Ryno du Plessis, National Marketing Manager for World Sports Betting, said that while many people came to watch the international jockeys, he is “excited to see our local guys in action”.
“Our jockeys are world class and it’s an opportunity to give them a platform to show their talents.”
Rob Dalton, Gaming Relationship Manager at Sun International, said they are the “lifestyle partners” of the event and will be the providers of accommodation for the jockeys, which includes a stay at Sun City.
“If somebody is a professional, they want a good room, a good breakfast and that leaves them to focus on the job they need to do,” said Dalton.
Wainstein also thanked Air Mauritius. “They have been our flying partner for the past four or five years and they have come on board again this year.”
Jockeys will be drawn for these races at an event held after final declarations. They will also race in their country’s team colours and not the owners’ colours.
Another great event to be hosted on the day is the Monaco Million Maiden Sprint, which is sponsored by Prince Albert of Monaco together with a few business associates.
The race, run over 1160m, will carry prize money of R1-million, half of which will be paid out to the connections of the winning horse.
It also transpires the daughter of Bruce Grobbelaar works for one of the business associates and the former Zimbabwe and Liverpool goalkeeper will be a special guest at Turffontein on the day.