Meeting a jockey called Chippy…

Taylor Made For Success

Jockeys: Olivier Peslier and Chris Taylor

Durban based jockey Chris Taylor completed his apprenticeship at the SA Jockey Academy in 1999. He proudly holds the unique distinction of being the first pupil in that hallowed institution’s long history to have attained a University Exemption on passing his Grade 12 when graduating. But who exactly is this unassuming mystery man, with an impressive international riding CV, who hardly anybody seems to know anything about?

Punters and racing enthusiasts were asking this question a week ago after the 32 year old Chippy, as he is known to his mates, rode a beautifully judged finish to win the final race on a ‘Hiroshima’ day at Fairview down in Port Elizabeth.  He rode the Charlie ‘Bomber’ Roberts trained Inverness to a stunning victory at any price that had the exotic bet punters impressed, but reaching for the Valoid. He was also only the second jockey to achieve this on a mare who is no star.

Charlie, younger brother to the legendary ‘Muis’, is another guy in the Taylor mould who flies below the radar,  and quietly goes about his daily task of prepping winners. Chris Taylor is thrilled about the opportunity he has been given in the Eastern Cape: “ At this stage I pay my own way to PE, Charlie gives me everything he has and we work around that. If I stay over , then I ride work for him on Saturday  mornings. His training facility is great. It is situated near Arlington on the same premises as owner Diane Botes’ FIRST For HORSES operation. Charlie’s man gallops are done on the Arlington grass or he takes his horses to the beach nearby.”

During the week, Chris mostly rides work at Summerveld, which is conveniently ten minutes away from his home in Gillits. He concentrates on working chiefly for Yogas Govender, Gavin Van Zyl, Wendy  Whitehead and Glen Kotzen. He then also travels to Ashburton near Pietermaritzburg once a week, to ride for Deon Visser, David Kuit, Julie Dittmer, Lowan Denysschen and Belinda Impey.

When looking at his impressive CV, it is apparent that having spent the majority of the first decade of the new millennium riding overseas, has meant that he needs to establish himself in South Africa  again and show that he can ride with the best. Having ridden top horses from Escolita Fitz to Young Rake and the likes of Jay Peg and Ipi Tombe, in countries from the UAE to Korea and even Japan, has meant that he brings a diverse and uniquely varied skill and experience to the table.

He was apprenticed to Champion Trainer David Ferraris in 1998 and was associated with Horse Of The Year Classic Flag as well as Champion Stayers Classic Flag and Travel North. He came out of his time in January 1999 and rode his first winning rides as a qualified jockey – a double at a place called Bloemfontein! In 2002 he was granted a race riding licence by the Dubai Racing Club and the Emirates Racing Authority. It was during this era that he started his association with the Mike De Kock yard and rode top horses like Vodacom Durban July winner Ipi Tombe, Grand Jete and Victory Moon. In 2003 he rode the winner of the Listed Darley Arabian on July day. In 2004 he led the Qatar jockey log for the first half of the season.

Jay Peg - Record winning Gr1 Dubai Duty Free winner

In 2008 Chris had the honour of riding Jay Peg in his final grass workout prior to his record win in the Gr1 Dubai Duty Free and also in the lead up to the stallion’s stunning win in the Gr1 Singapore Airlines International Cup. In the latter half of 2008, he rode with great success in Korea, winning various feature races. He has also ridden in Zimbabwe and  Bahrain.

Chris explains that he has never been better mentally geared and more fitter and healthier than he is today, to make a serious effort to establish himself locally:”I walk around at 54kg but can ride at 52kgs when needed. Ex jockey Paddy Wynne has got me back into road running, so  the weight will not be an issue. I also live a quiet focused life and am engaged to Celeste after nine years of traveling together. She is quite well known in racing circles as the Yard Manager and a Nurse for Dr. Katzwinkel at Summerveld Equine Hospital. She is a great help to me as she understands this industry. She assisted Herman Brown and Grant Maroun in Dubai, and rode for Clements in Singapore and Paul Lafferty in Durban.”

Chris went on to say that he was always looking for an edge to improve himself and labels himself ‘a strong-willed hardworking team-player.’

“ I have been extremely fortunate to have worked with and learnt from the very best in the world. It is unbelievable how a few years overseas working with different cultures and professional approaches moulds and gives one a more holistic and mature attitude. When we are young we think we know it all. As we get older, we realize that we can never stop learning.”

Chris Taylor is willing and able to travel and says that he is looking forward to getting amongst the winners this season.

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