Striker’s Back For Hollywoodbets Durban July!

Watch the replays here!

In what will be a major boost for a race that already looks set to ignite the imagination of the South African public, multiple champion record-breaking jockey Piere ‘Striker’ Strydom is set to partner Justin Snaith’s 2020 winner Belgarion in the 126th renewal of the R5 million Gr1 Hollywoodbets Durban July on the first Saturday of July at Hollywoodbets Greyville racecourse.

The Port Elizabeth-born rider, who turned 56 this past week, has not ridden since 8 April 2021, when a semi-detached retina led to medical advice to stop race riding.

Piere Strydom returns after 15 months! (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

He has won every major race countrywide, and had been a popular much-loved sometimes hated crowd favourite in Gauteng since 1988, when he arrived in Johannesburg from his home town of Port Elizabeth, following the completion of his apprenticeship in 1985.

The bottom line is that outspoken champion personalities like Piere Strydom, who call a saddle a saddle, are a dying breed in an age where the new generation rely mostly on paid social media specialists to create their characters.

After Jonathan Snaith had confirmed the ride on Belgarion, Piere indicated to us that he is due to start riding work at Randjesfontein on Tuesday, and will accept rides for Sunday 19 June at Turffontein.

“It has been a long road to recovery, but I have been in good hands. I have avoided operations and went the natural healing route on the excellent advice of an Opthalmologist friend,” Piere told the Sporting Post on Sunday.

Striker will be bidding to match Anton Marcus’ record of five Durban July winners, with London News (1996), Trademark (2021), Pomodoro (2012) and The Conglomerate (2016) already on his impressive cv.

Piere wins the 1996 Gr1 Rothmans July on London News (photo: Gold Circle)

Piere wins the 1996 Gr1 Rothmans July on London News (photo: Gold Circle)

In the current generation of jockeys, Richard Fourie is next best with 3  winners – Legislate in 2014, Do It Again in 2019 and Striker’s mount Belgarion in 2020.

Asked why he was making a comeback at his relatively advanced age, Piere said that he had some ‘unfinished business’.

“Look, if the late great Lester Piggott could do it, I must back myself to do it! And the Hollywoodbets Durban July is till is the premier race on the South African horseracing calendar, and is on every jockey’s dream list. I probably don’t have the time on my side to pass Anton Marcus’s record, but it would be nice to try and equal the five winner benchmark. I am also just 11 winners short of the 5500 winner milestone – so maybe I will sleep a little easier when I have achieved that,“ he laughed.

Pomodoro

So close! Smanjemanje nearly upsets Pomodor in the 2012 Durban July

The legendary Lester Piggott, who died last month, made a triumphant return to the saddle in 1990 at the age of 54. And just 12 days out of his second retirement, Piggott guided Royal Academy to victory in one of the world’s richest races – the $1m Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Piggott said at the time that it ‘was like a fairy story and they don’t often happen’.

Piere will be hoping that he can write his own fairytale on 2 July. But he knows he has work to do.

“I have naturally put on a small amount of weight, but have kept fit with gym work and spinning. I know from past returns from a break that a few weeks is sufficient to get myself race-riding fit. It’s quite exciting and I am looking forward to the challenge,” he added, while confirming that he was very happy to be riding a horse of Belgarion’s calibre.

“The Snaiths know what it takes to win the Durban July, and they have brought Belgarion back slowly. I am sure he will be cherry ripe on the day.”

The 6yo son of Dynasty has only had two runs since running six lengths off Kommetdieding in the 2021 Durban July. He wrapped up his prep with a flying second behind Piet Botha hardknocker Rockin’ Ringo  a week ago in a 1500m Pinnacle Stakes at Kenilworth.

Belgarion is currently quoted at 33-1 in the Hollywoodbets Durban July ante-post betting market.

When asked about the challenges of the race itself, Piere reminded us that two of his past July winners – Pomodoro and The Conglomerate – won from the widest of the draw.

“I have no issue with a wide gate. It has its advantages too, and sometimes means less pressure than the inside where one is forced to bustle to hold position. We will take it as it comes. What I would like to do is take a few rides earlier on Hollywoodbets Durban July day – I have always liked to get the feel of the course in advance of the major races,” he said.

Piere said that he was available for rides and that his agent Alston Naidoo can be contacted.

  • The Hollywoodbets Durban July final supplementary entries close at 11h00 on Tuesday 14 June. The weights will be published on the same day.
  • Final declarations close at 11h00 on Monday, 20 June.
  • The announcement of the Final Field and Barrier Draws will take place on Tuesday, 21 June.

Watch Striker’s first Durban July win in 1996:

Watch him winning it in 2012 on Pomodoro:

And his most recent Durban July win in 2016 on The Conglomerate:

 

  • Ed – regret, we were unable to track the Trademark replay

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8 comments on “Striker’s Back For Hollywoodbets Durban July!

  1. Keith Goddard says:

    Yoh! Welcome champ. Maybe get back to winning ways courteous of you. Just got to love it. From the back champ .Glorious!!!!

  2. Lancelot Smart says:

    Welcome Back STRKER A True Champion You Have Truly Being Missed. Good Luck And Many Winning Safe Rides

  3. Rajan Birbal says:

    Striker welcome back champ

  4. Zameer Pillay says:

    Welcome back champ u can make history

  5. Akesh Singh says:

    London News clearing away at the top of the straight is always exciting to watch.

  6. Akesh Singh says:

    Ed, the following are actually missing 1979-1982, 1984-85, 1987-1990.Would be great to watch these …they are all nowhere to be found

    1. Editor says:

      Hi Akesh – these have proven difficult to track – we have tried previously 🙁

  7. Akesh Singh says:

    Are there any archives, I’m remembering something called NRCTV…

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