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How Many Of These Riders Are Remembered Today?

Let's go back to 29 January 1977

The subject of top jockeys is one that could keep us tied up all day in debate.

Lucky Nicolaides has a treasure trove of pics at home and he sent us this one of a race back in 1977.

The jockey board in the background caught his attention.


Were there any top guys on there?

This is the race detail for interest’s sake:


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16 comments on “How Many Of These Riders Are Remembered Today?

  1. Frederick says:

    Gerald Turner was a five time SA champion jockey.
    James Maree was a SA champion jockey once.

  2. Allan says:

    Trainer was Alec Uzent trained at a home track in Regents Park

  3. Steve Reid says:

    The only Jock I don’t recall from that list is J Clarke. The rest are all familiar names imprinted on my brain after hours and hours of studying form, and all rode in the time when I was introduced to racing up here in Jo’burg. One thing that has stirred the grey matter with the lock down puzzles you are currently running, is how insular we were as punters and whilst we all knew about the good horses, trainers and jocks from other regions, we were never familiar with them like we were with our local celebs. I’m not ashamed to admit that I know very little of Cape racing in those times. Cape Town may as well been London, it was a different world in those days. Obviously these were the days when races were not televised outside the Met and the July, and as such, the majority of these celebs were names in a book only. I must admit that very little outside the Highveld racing excited me besides the KZN and Cape seasons, there was enough on our plates with the local offering.

    I remember in the early days as I entered the sport as a punter if you didn’t get to the course half an hour before the first on big days you would often land up with no parking available at the track. I would often rush through to the big T after work on a Saturday and land up parking 6 blocks away from the track in Turffontein proper. At Gosforth Park you often landed up parking under the Blue gum trees at the very far end of the parking lot if you were late, and that resulted in a walk to the entrance of I would estimate, at least a kilometer. No free entry in those days and you gladly paid to get into the course. If you were lucky you would find a seat in the grandstand but that wasn’t important because you were often either heading straight off to find a seat in the Parade ring to view the horse in the next race, or you were rushing down to the winners enclosure to greet your winner. This was repeated for each race, or until the money ran out. I remember men only bars where you would stand four deep to get a drink. Times have changed that’s for sure. Trainers, jocks, and owners were revered and my first real goal in life was to become an owner. I did this before I bought my first property. Getting an invite to the Owners and Trainers facility was a proper treat. If you gave me the choice of going racing “upstairs” or meeting the Queen, President, or any other celebrity, I would look forward to the carvery and finding some winners.

    Another thing I recall is the strength of the bookies rings in those days. You would easily get 20 – 30 bookies for local racing plying their trade in the Gold Ring, a lesser amount in the Silver ring, as well as some big hitters upstairs outside the Owners and trainers. In particular I recall Les Kourie who was fearless. Believe me these were bookies not the snowflakes we have today. There were also bookies out back at both Saturday tracks who offered betting on the away meetings in KZN and Cape Town mainly, although I do recall the odd occasions when PE, Bloemfontein and Kimberley betting was offered. No television was available and the races were broadcast over the blower for those interested. The sound quality was never the greatest and the commentator often came across in a “tinny” and indistinct, but this all added to the atmosphere. You would often get a great roar when a fancied horse started making it’s presence felt despite the lack of visuals. My Lebanese mates always seemed to hunt and punt in packs, and they celebrated and swore together, depending upon their fortunes. Who can forget the Derek Flynn forays and the army who descended upon the bookmakers when a horse was fancied? Electric atmosphere, win or lose, those boys livened up the race day experience like no other I have ever witnessed. Racing It’s a rush do me a favour you lighties have no clue what the ethos of racing is.

    I recall stolen hours officially doing “fleet visits” at Wits Tatts in Loveday street on Wednesdays, where races from Newmarket and the Vaal came over the blower. The amount of people there far outstripped the numbers that we see at the track today. I reckon the money changing hands in those days would put our current tote pools to shame, and those were the days when the Rand stood proudly against the Greenback. Win, lose, or draw, the most important thing about leaving the track or the Tattersalls was making sure you got the card for the following meeting on your way out. We were all sick for the game and now the powers that be have made us sick of the game.

    That’s what I miss about racing. Age has made me nostalgic.

    1. Editor says:

      Good read

  4. Oscar says:

    Nearly all those jockeys used to set the turf alight.They were the crowd pullers at any race meeting..There was always some rivalry going on Gerald Tutner and Tobie van Booma who will always be remembered when he lodged an objection on behalf Distinctly against Gatecrasher in the July..
    James Maree,Robbie Sham,Freddie Macadkil ,Cecil Van As,Gavin Van Zyl can never be forgotten.

  5. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Morning Steve, so true, really enjoyed reading this one. Fits in so nicely with all the recent articles on SP, good memories.

    Thank You. Have a Good Day 👍

  6. Gail Coetzee Welman says:

    Gerald Turner my favourite, Raymond Rhodes Martin Schoeman. Racing then was wonderful. Win or lose you still had hours of postmortem discussions on ‘i almost had it,’ or, ‘i should have put mor on.’ Alwats part of the fun.

  7. Donald says:

    The ” only game in town ” as well recorded by Steve. My father raced every Saturday so he took no chances on that being disturbed so he checked the racing programme to see which course was racing closest to the Saturday that I was expected, , it was Greyville so he booked for Mothers Hospital right outside the course.When my mother was checked in on the Friday night he lined up his brother ( later to become a bookmaker ) to take care of things and lo and behold after the meeting he walked over the road after being hunted down on the course by his brother and there I was !

    Born outside a racecourse and destined to never stray far from one until about the turn of the century when it became easier to race from home !

  8. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Donald, you should write that book, with or without The bookmaker chapter .. look fwd to it

    And the last comment sums up exactly why racecourses aren’t full anymore. Well, mostly ….

  9. Donald says:

    Hey Cecil , could never leave out the bookmakers on any South African horse racing book as they were the splash , colour and verve of racecourses back in the day !

    I promised Ed to sent him a anecdote about Sea Cottage which I will do soonest but just to whet your appetite the shooting of Sea Cottage was a plan hatched in one night and conducted the next day as the original plan was NOT to shoot the great horse ?

  10. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Thx Donald, I (we ) look fwd to it 👍

    Agree 100% with bookies comment.

  11. Barry Dunnett says:

    I echo Steve and Donald’s sentiments, without question. And worthy of forwarding such to racing’s management.

  12. Selwyn Elk says:

    Hi Steve , J. Clarke was a jockey called Joey Clarke. With all due respect he was what was termed a Christmas jockey, 1 winner a year! The reason why I remember him well was he found me at the Vaal on Wednesday on a horse called Admirandus at 50/1. That was in the early 70’s and there were no commentaries from the Vaal, the results came through a telex machine. When the result was shouted out at the Tattersalls most punters thought it was someone fooling around , unfortunately it was no hoax and the satchelmen finished up with the money once again!

  13. DavidS says:

    Johan Clarke

  14. Chris says:

    Great read Steve.You are so right about only knowing your own provence. In the old days.I cannot name one Jhb or Cape bookie but Durban wise there were the Freeman brothers Morris Vee and many more I will not bore you with but who remembers the most colourful of all.Michael Ratner.He always had his shirt half unbuttoned so no one could miss his huge gold medallion with his iniatials studded in diamonds on it.A mate of mine was his runner and used to give me all of Cyril Hurvitz horses graft.Amazing strike rate he had when the big money was down but rarely won the medium bets.Great days watching Bob Stevenson of Stevenson Construction go from bookmaker to bookmaker cliaming the full claim then going back for more.Sadly I think he lost millions.One of my best days was watching Dennis Freeman franticly trying to twiddle his board and change the price down on a Payne sprinter.Selwyn Elk appeared from nowhere and claimed the horse on the stuck figure.Dennis called the ring supervisor but had to give the ticket begrudgingly saying he hoped the horse wouldnt run a place.It strolled in.

  15. Steve Reid says:

    @Selwyn Elk thanks for the info on jockey Clarke, I honestly have no recollection of the man so the fact he was a battler makes a lot more sense.

    @Chris when you speak to guys who have been in the game for years, isn’t it great that even if you are complete strangers, within minutes the stories about the good old days begin. I’m pleased that I was part of an era where racing came first and it was all about the core product. Thanks for your sharing your memories

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