Bernard Faydherbe‘s name will forever be linked with that of the mighty Pocket Power. As wonderful as those wins were Bernard is a great rider in his own right. Despite being tall for a jockey Bernard is quick to point out that the great Lester Piggott was also above average height for a jockey and he, too, was a really great jockey. Bernard’s ambition is to have an international reputation and racegoers may be assured that he will work very hard to achieve this. He is sure to be a very interesting jockey to follow.
What is your name and age? Bernard Faydherbe.
Where do you live? Green Point, Cape Town.
Tell us about your family? My late father Rene was from Madagascar, where my mother, Lorraine still resides and we visit each other as often as possible. I spent my early youth there and was raised with my sister, Ingrid and brother, Robert, who is now an assistant trainer to Mike Bass. I also have two step-brothers, Paul and Mark.
Your grandfather was the great Harold ‘Tiger’ Wright. How well did you know him and how big was his influence on you when it came to deciding to become a jockey? I knew him well and I didn’t realize at my young age what an influence he would have on me in the future.
How early in your life was the decision made for you to make racing your career? At the age of 13 I was riding in amateur races in Madagascar. That is where I met trainer Neil Bruss.
When did you get into racing? I joined the South African Jockey’s Academy in 1995.
Which trainer were you first apprenticed to? The late Michael Roberts.
Were there any senior jockeys who took you under their wing and mentored you as a young rider? Jeff Lloyd – he always had time for me.
Where did you spend the early years riding? In Durban.
When did you qualify as a jockey? I qualified at Summerveld Jockey’s Academy in 2000. I owe a lot to my family who persevered to get me in and to Benjamin Johnson who had the final say for my acceptance into the Academy.
You are quite tall for a jockey. Were you always expected to grow tall or did you just suddenly spring up in height? I just suddenly shot up in my third year at the academy but my tallness doesn’t bother me in the least.
Has been tall ever hindered you as a jockey? No, one only has to look at what a great jockey Lester Piggot was and he was tall.
How difficult has it been to keep your mass down so that you can at least ride the top weights? It’s part of my life that I have accepted. I work hard on keeping my weight down. It’s a combination of discipline and dedication.
You had a great record with Pocket Power. Do you consider him the best horse you have ridden and won on? Yes, he was a champion horse of note.
Which win on Pocket Power gave you the most satisfaction? All of my wins on Pocket Power were great!
You have won twice on JJ The Jetplane. How highly do you rate him? He is definitely the best sprinter I have ever ridden.
How did it come about that you got the ride on JJ after it seemed that Piere Strydom would be his jockey? Pierre got a contract to ride in Hong Kong. At the time I was working JJ and we got on really well. Thankfully the trainer, Lucky and JJ’s owners gave me the chance to ride him.
Which trainers are you riding work for now? At the moment I am freelancing and make myself available to as many trainers as possible.
With KZN season now nearly over which horses do you think are going to make a big impact in the Cape season? A young horse that really stands out for me would have to be GIMMETHEGREENLIGHT.
How keen are you on the breeding side of horse racing? At this stage I am more focused on my riding.
Do you like to study pedigrees? I leave that to the trainers but I am slowly getting into it.
Which stallions do you really like? There are top stallions throughout the world, however, I think Jet Master is special.
What are your ambitions with regard to your career or will you take it as it comes? My ambition is to become an internationally recognized jockey.
Do you ever advise family members of friends to have a punt on a horse you really think will win? The only tip that I give to family and friends when they ask is don’t drink and drive. It’s not the answer that they want to hear.
Do you have a favourite racecourse to ride on? Yes, I love riding on the Kenilworth long straight.
You appear to be very cool and calm after your horse has won but do you feel any nerves before a big race? No, I’m always calm.
Is there any particular personality who influenced you to make racing such a big part of your life? My mom, my uncle Chris and trainer Neil Bruss.
For you personally what has been the most exciting moment of the past year or two? Winning in Dubai on World Cup night on JJ the Jet Plane.
How many winners have you ridden to date? Just under 1000.
Which was the most exciting finish you have been involved in? It would have to be dead heating in the Durban July with Dancer’s Daughter on Pocket Power.
How do you celebrate a big win? Having a few glasses of my favourite champagne with friends.
If you have to name the most important lessons you have learnt about racing thus far what would you say that is? Word hard, look, learn and listen – be confident in your ability.
How do spend your free time? I enjoy being outdoors and spending time at the beach.
What is your philosophy on the racing game? I’m really lucky to be a jockey and to be paid for doing something that I love to do.
From what you have observed of racing do you think the game is straight or do you think there is room for stricter controls? South Africa is on a par with the rest of the world. Our racing is strict and top class.
If you had one piece of advice for your fellow associates in the racing world what would it be? There are no shortcuts in this game. No pain, no gain. You have to work hard and embrace the good things that you are rewarded with and most importantly you need to appreciate, love and care for the horse.