WINNING FORM-sponsored workrider ABRAM MAKHUBO watched many of the big races on television and soon realized that he wanted to be part of our sport of kings. He then joined the Eugene Cox yard as a groom and after showing promise was sent to James Maree’s grooms school of riding where he became an accomplished workrider. After having his greatest season ever with 17 winners, he recently won the workriders’ championship for a record fifth time and wants to continue riding many more winners. He attributes much of his success to James Maree and also pays homage to top trainer Mike de Kock who taught him to put his head down and to work as hard as he can. He has taken all the opportunities that have come his way and has even been chosen by De Kock to ride work in Dubai, Hong Kong and Australia where he worked great horses such as Asiatic Boy, former July winner Greys Inn and Irridescence. During the course of the year Abram secured a sponsorship from Winning Form whom he rewarded with immediate success as he won the last two workrider quarterly series. Abram loves soccer and thank goodness for his recent success in the saddle as his favourite team, Kaizer Chiefs are still licking their wounds after being drilled 4-1 by Sundowns last weekend. Winning Form wishes Abram Makhubo everything of the best in his future endeavours and know that he will fly the flag high in the new season.
What is your name and age? Abram Makhubo and I am 36 years old.
What is your star sign and birthdate? I am a Virgo and I was born on 25th August 1977.
Where were you born? Vrede, Kaalfontein.
Where do you live? Kaalfontein.
Tell us about your family? I have a wife Maria and 3 children. Abram (Jnr) who is 7 years old, Elsie, 11 years old and Nomsa,14 years old. Abram (Jnr) wants to ride horses.
Do you have a ‘nickname’? Yes, AB.
Favourite food? Lamb.
Favourite drink? Hunters Dry.
Favourite music? Zulu and I like JBC and Counsella.
Favourite sport? Soccer.
Which is your favourite soccer team? Kaizer Chiefs.
Favourite holiday destination? Durban.
How did it happen that you got to work for a racing stable? I used to watch all the big races on TV, like the Met and the July, and decided that I wanted to be included in horse racing. So, I went to work for Eugene Cox as a groom and he taught me how to ride. That was in 1994. In 1999, I moved to Robbie Sage and he sent me to Mr. James Maree’s riding school.
Were any other members of your family involved in racing in any way? Yes, my uncle was a groom and he now works for Dianne Stenger.
Who was the first trainer you worked for? I worked for Eugene Cox as a groom.
Were you always at ease with horses or did it take time for you to feel easy to work with them? It took time as I was afraid of them to start with.
Your first race ride was on Seeking The Hero at the Vaal on 27th November 2001. Who was the trainer and did you ride many horses for him? The trainer was Robbie Sage. It was scary for me as the horse was a bit green. He ran a nice race finishing 5th and I was very happy with the result.
How different was it for you to ride in a race as opposed to riding work in the mornings? It is very different because in a race you have to be fitter.
Did that first ride make you all the more enthusiastic and keen to ride in races? Yes – definitely.
Where did you mainly ride work? At the Vaal.
Who were the trainers who gave you the most rides and who gave you the most encouragement? Sean Tarry and Robbie Sage.
Six months after riding in your first race you rode your first winner, Capitol Lad at Newmarket on 30 July 2001. Who was the trainer? Robbie Sage and it was a very exciting moment in my life.
How many workrider championships have you won? 5.
What is the most number of winners you have had in a season? 17.
What is the most number of winners you have had in a day? 3.
You appear to have had a quiet time in the years between 2002 and 2007. What was happening to you during that time and who were you working for? I was working for Mike de Kock and we were travelling to Dubai, Hong Kong and Australia.
In 2005 you travelled to Dubai with trainer Mike de Kock. What were the most important lessons you learnt while working for Mike? Mike taught me to put my head down and to work hard. He also taught me how to get horses fit.
Which of his top horses did you ride? They were all top horses. To name a few Asiatic Boy, former July winner Greys Inn and Irridescence.
Who were some of the famous jockeys you met whilst in Dubai with Mike? Frankie Dettori, Richard Hills, Richard Mullen, Johnny Murtagh and Kevin Shea.
Who is your favourite South African jockey and International jockey? Weichong Marwing and Frankie Dettori.
You spent a few months in Korea. When was this and what were you doing there? This was in 2009 and I really enjoyed Korea. I was a workrider there. I got on well with the trainer.
You have previously said that the best horses you have ridden were Freiburg, Royal Captive, Nudge Nudge and Air Force Club. You have ridden many horses since then and which horses would you add to that list? I won on Buy And Sell and he is a really good horse who finished second in the July.
In 2009 and 2010 you won the inaugural Workriders’ Challenge. How many winners did you ride? I had 14 winners.
Who were the trainers which gave you the most help to win? Sean Tarry.
What do you consider to be the best horse you have won on? Buy And Sell.
Up until April 2011 you had ridden in 293 races and won 50 of them. What is your score now? I have now ridden 70 winners.
Is your riding mass steady at 56,5kgs and how difficult is it for you to maintain it? Yes, it is still 56,5kgs and I maintain it easily.
Who are you currently working for? I am riding freelance. I ride for Mike de Kock, Sean Tarry, Paul Matchett and Dianne Stenger to name a few.
How often do you ride work? I ride work 6 days a week.
Apart from work riding what other duties do you have in the stable? I sometimes assist the stables’ on big race days.
You obviously have a great passion for horses but what is it that you particularly love about horseracing? I love riding horses and competing against fellow workriders.
Mr James Maree is the man behind the work rider’s scheme. How much influence has he had on your life from both a riding perspective and on how you see your life? He has been a big influence on our lives and I respect him for everything he has done for me and all the other workriders. He has changed our lives and thanks as well to Phumelela for supporting Mr. Maree in this venture.
What does the future hold for you in the racing game? I will continue to ride as many winners as possible.
From what you have seen and experienced do you think racing is ‘straight’? Yes, it is.
You have recently secured the sponsorship of Winning Form. How important is it for you to have a sponsor? It is very important as they supply both Francis Semela and I with britches, caps, racing shirts, all their publications, media coverage and cash incentives. Francis and I are extremely grateful to Winning Form and Hollywoodbets.net. They have also recently sponsored Semela’s soccer team with two kits and Hollywood soccer balls. They are amazing.
The saying is “Behind every successful man is an equally successful woman”. Does this apply to Abram Makhubo? Yes, my wife supports me in everything. She makes sure I eat the right food and that my home is a happy one. I am really blessed to have her.