Sean Veale is a young jockey now riding at the top of his game after seemingly losing his way for a while. With refreshing honesty he admits that a turning point in his life came after he decided to stop drinking and this could be the reason Sean is now riding many winners. He is determined to make the most of the opportunities being given him and his stated ambition is to ride the winner of the Durban July. With this being the case racegoers should watch his progress with keen interest.
What is your name and age? Sean Damian Veal – 24
Where do you live? Gillits, KZN.
Tell us about your family? I have 6 brothers of which I am the second youngest.
How did you originally get into racing? I always loved horses and my father was the one that encouraged me to follow my dream, to become a jockey one day.
When did you become an apprentice jockey? 2001.
What was the first horse you won on and where and when was that? The first horse I won on was Emmency at Clairwood in 2001.
Which trainers did you ride for and who did you have your first success with? My first winner was for Des Edges.
You mainly ride in KZN. Where else do you ride and which is your favourite course to ride on? I ride all over and my favourite course is Greyville as I have had the most success there.
Which trainers do you mainly ride for? Mike Miller, Tony Rivalland, Yogas Govender and Dennis Drier.
Are you a stable jockey for a trainer and if so which trainer? No I am freelancing at present.
With the KZN winter season soon to be in full swing which horses would you consider following over the season? Royal Zulu Warrior, Black Wing, Comtesse Dubois and Link Man.
In recent times you have really come to the fore and you are riding lots of winners. Are you putting a lot more effort into your job or do you think that it is that you are now getting much better rides? I am putting hard work in at present and I try my best to go and ride at all centers.
What is your normal riding mass? 52kg.
How easy is it to maintain your ideal riding mass? At the moment I have found a way to keep my weight at a steady 52kg. However, it is not easy for jockeys with a weight problem.
How many days a week do you ride work?6 days a week.
What is it about being a jockey that gives you the most pleasure? Riding winners and seeing a horse I have been doing a lot of work with going on to win decent races.
Do you have any ambition to ride overseas? Yes of course it would be a big thrill to ride in Dubai on the big night on a fancied horse.
Are you inspired by the success of SA trainers, jockeys and owners overseas? Yes they have all done very well and it makes one realize that with a bit of hard work and luck we can all get there.
Do you have many friends outside of racing circles? Yes plenty of friends outside of racing and it helps to keep a good balance in life.
Do you advise any friends or family to back a horse you ride when you feel you have an outstanding win chance? No but I do tell what my best chances are on the day as there are no certainties in racing.
How do you like to celebrate a big win? I like to go out with my friends for a slap up dinner and have a few laughs and enjoy the moment.
Who were the people in racing who had the biggest influence on you in your decision to make racing your career? My family saw my potential and pushed me to take advantage of it.
Before making your career in racing was there anything else which interested you? No not really as I always wanted to become a jockey.
Which trainers befriended you and encouraged you when you started in the game? Sam Forbes, Vaughan Marshall and Mike Miller.
Which do you consider to be the best horse you have seen in your career? Horse Chestnut is a legend-will never forget him.
Do you think there has been a defining moment in your career which has really made a big difference to your life? Yes when I finally decided to give up drinking.
Are any other members of your family involved in racing? No-one is enough!
At this stage of your career what are your main ambitions? To ride and, hopefully, win the Durban July helping to pave a way for me to ride overseas.
What is it about racing that makes you passionate about the game? Being on TV and being interviewed after winning makes me realize the importance of what I am doing.
Which are your favourite stallions? Jet Master, Var, Captain Al.
Do you have a favourite racecourse in SA? Greyville because tactics play a big part in the race and it makes one really have to think and concentrate on what one is doing.
Which personalities in racing have had a big influence on your career and on your life? My friend jockey Corne Orffer and Mike and Rae Miller.
If you have to name the most important lesson you have learnt about racing thus far what would you say that is? The lesson that I still have to learn that is-you are only as good as your last winner.
Racing in SA is going through troubled times. In your opinion do you think that some of those in authority are too involved in politics and not giving enough thought to the good of racing? I don’t do politics and it is all political to me.
How do you like to spend your free time? Smoking my Hubbly – on my couch.
Apart from racing what else are you passionate about? Soccer. I watch as much soccer as I can.
How much time do you spend studying form? Plenty of time. Knowing how the opposition is likely to try and win allows me to plan how I should ride my horse to beat them.
You have been involved in the game for a long time. In all honesty how straight do you think racing is? I think that it is very straight and we are all out there giving of our best.
What is your philosophy on the racing game? Hard work and ride as many winners as possible.
If you had one piece of advice for your fellow associates in the racing world what would it be? Never give up your next ride could be your next winner.