A natural ability and a weight concession are gold in the hands of the right apprentice jockey.
Two new generation talents stole the limelight on Saturday, winning over 30% of the local programme between Kenilworth and Turffontein.
Luke Ferraris and Sandile Mbhele, who was crowned Outstanding Apprentice at the Cape Racing Awards a fortnight ago, rode a hat-trick apiece at Turffontein and Kenilworth, respectively.
Sandile, who survived a Snaith-Fourie objection in the Kenilworth third race, to launch the first of a treble of Kenilworth winners for Vaughan Marshall, received glowing praise from Ronnie Sheehan Assistant trainer Peter Wrensch, whose runner Troop The Colour, a 16-10 favourite, finished last of five runners in the seventh race, a 2400m MR 66 Handicap – won by Mbhele on Vaughan Marshall’s The Silva Fox.
“No excuses. Troop The Colour pulled up one hundred percent sound. He was beaten by a superb text-book ride and by the pedestrian pace,” added Wrensch, who had his boss Ronnie Sheehan on course, after a spell of ill health.
“ Aldo Domeyer and I spoke about the pace before the race. We were concerned and our fears came back to haunt us. Once Sandile took charge in front, slowed it up, and then pinched those three lengths at the 700m, we were on a hiding to nothing. Troop The Colour needs a decent gallop and he stays well and finishes his race off when relaxed off a fast pace. I am disappointed as Ronnie hasn’t been racing in quite a while. He has been undergoing chemotherapy, but looks so much better and it would have been nice to have a winner. Thankfully he is getting better. And Troop The Colour is none the worse for wear.”
Wrensch, a top-class Cape Hunt rider of yesteryear, said that Mbhele was full value for his 2,5kg claim, and added that he made his weight advantage count.
“As a rider, I appreciate watching a guy who thinks about what he is doing. Any jockey can go to the front. But Anton Marcus and Piere Strydom are different league. Look at Piere’s ride on The Lawyer in the Turffontein first on Saturday. He got to the front and outrode them. And the horse wasn’t spluttering and swerving at the end. Sandile also proved when winning on Symphony in the last that he is no one-dimensional apprentice with a weight discount ticket. He switched the filly off and then judged his ride to perfection from off them. He will get plenty of opportunity now that trainers see how nicely he sits and thinks his game through. He has the world at his feet, I feel – if he keeps his head down,”
At Turffontein, with his Dad David celebrating his 55th birthday and Grandfather Ormond in bed with bronchitis, Luke Ferraris, another 2,5kg claimer on the express route up, rode a treble – including a double for his Grandfather and a winner for Sean Tarry.
Ferraris has now ridden 33 winners from 273 rides.
A slower beginner, Mbhele has ridden 26 winners from 318 rides.
As Peter Wrensch suggests, they both look like young men to watch.