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Michael Roberts Raceday On Sunday

Fascinating walk down memory lane

Sunday’s Hollywoodbets Scottsville inside track feature, the only stakes feature on the local weekend programme, is run annually in honour of Cape Town-born Michael Leonard Roberts, affectionately known to his legion of fans as ‘Muis’.

Each of the races eight races on the Michael Roberts day are named for highlights of his illustrious career.

Michael Roberts, Jockey

Michael Roberts also rode his first ride to victory at Scottsville – 52 years ago!

The first race is the Smyrna Maiden Plate . At 14, in 1968, he won his first race, at Scottsville on a horse called Smyrna.

Twenty years later, at Ascot in the UK, he won the glittering King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Mtoto.

The opening leg of the jackpot on Saturday is the Mtoto FM 76 Handicap.

Michael Roberts – today (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

He won eleven South African championships before his 17 year stint in the UK, where in 1992 he became only the sixth non-British jockey to have won the British Flat Jockey Championship.

Roberts, who now trains out of Summerveld, once described his one and only Durban July winner as the ‘pinnacle of his career’. The opening leg of the Pick 6 on Sunday is the Super Quality MR 89 Handicap.

But it almost didn’t happen.

The year was 1997.

Roberts’ agent told him at the races one Saturday that South African trainer David Ferraris had phoned and offered him a July ride on a horse called North By Northwest. After the races Roberts realised this horse had won the Gr 1 Daily News and was the ruling July favourite.

An excited Roberts phoned Ferraris the next day, but there was bad news. He was informed that stable jockey Weichong Marwing had changed his mind and had opted for North By Northwest.

Ferraris then offered him the ride on his other runner Super Quality, whom he described as a ‘game little bugger’.

1997 Rothmans July - Super Quality (photo: Gold Circle)

1997 Rothmans July – Super Quality (photo: Gold Circle)

He recalled the big day: “The worst part was when I was in the parade ring. I saw this tiny little horse walking in. Then I got on him and I couldn’t believe how small he was. I thought to myself, oh no, how embarrassing, journeying all this way to ride this horse. I asked the groom if he liked him and he replied, ‘No I like North By Northwest, he is a very nice horse.’ So my mood was down. But, then he went down to the start like an absolute bomb. I pulled him up at the 2400m mark and Garth was alongside and I remember telling him how good the horse had felt. David had only given me one bit of advice, which was not to bring him through horses, so to try and bring him to the outside.”

The rest is history.

Join in the fun at Hollywoodbets Scottsville – first race is off at 12h45.

Click on the image below to purchase your racecard

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14 comments on “Michael Roberts Raceday On Sunday

  1. MR GB says:

    Little horse big heart. What a lovely story. I have followed racing in SA since 1966 and Muis was undoubtedly the best in an era when they were a number of excellent jockeys riding against him.

  2. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Blast from the past. Local is lekker.

    Michael won his first championship as an Apprentice as well.

    Big storm today, wonder if it will affect racing tomorrow.

    1. Editor says:

      Plse keep us posted on the weather, Cecil
      This meeting wont be quite the same on the poly 🙁

  3. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Will do Mr Ed.

    Agree 100%, hoping… but nearby cricket fields were water logged

    Good Night 👍

    1. Editor says:


  4. Pops says:

    Cecil,according to the Greyville weather watcher guys,if Scottville cannot handle the meeting the Greyville TURF will be able to easily handle the meeting

    1. Editor says:

      On Friday Scottsville had a pen of 22 and going was good
      Outlook for tomorrow 36 degree and wind

  5. Vicke p says:

    Muis was clearly a superb champion. He could ride a donkey and win against the best jockeys. Today horses make jockeys and the likes of all of recent times,since the later 1990’s jockeys are classed world class..please learn and stand in command for a national and international champion..Michael Roberts. You were truly a champion.when you won the July on super quality,I had a wager at 40/1 with the great and brave bookie Bradley Jacobson who has emigrated..at 40 000/1000, you will always be my champion jockey for life.i salute a true champion…

  6. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Morning Mr Ed, Pops

    It seems the plan is to race today, that’ll be great but I’ll be surprised. Indeed Pmb had extreme hot temps until Sat am. Not so sure about the 36deg for today ?

    Pops, rather a move to Turf than Poly 👍

    1. Editor says:

      Thanks Cecil

    2. Editor says:

      It appears to have been moved to Greyville poly, Cecil
      Plenty of scratchings
      Michael Roberts Handicap now run over 1800m

  7. Pops says:

    One has to say Gold Circle is being over cautious. The turf has not had any over night rain.Are they expecting a delude at about 12.00,?
    Why run this meeting on the poly?We think it can be run on the turf with no problems.Time will tell.

  8. Raymond Whittaker says:

    I remember Michael through a very good late friend of ours her name was Jannet Jackson who lived in Park Street corner St Georges street oh hell he could never get the jackpot right for us he would leave his ride out of a race as he said he could not win oh boy guest what won he did and it was bye bye jackpot.
    The lady mentioned above her son lnlaw was Teddy Savage the assistant trainer to Herman Brown and thoses were the days of Micheal Roberts the one and only gentleman

  9. Donald says:

    Pops , there is no turf to run on at Greyville , the turf is scarified to grass roots and this is something that should be desimated by the operator so that the public KNOW why the meeting is moved to the all weather and not the turf ?

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