Profile – Richard Fourie

Richard Fourie

Richard Fourie is one of the most exciting young jockeys riding at the    moment. One of SA’s up and coming trainers, Justin Snaith, has seen and appreciates his talent and is giving him every chance to fulfill his undoubted potential. Between the two of them, and other top trainers who are giving Richard rides, a lot will be seen and heard about him in the next months and years. It is probably safe to say that racegoers are in for a feast of fun following Richard Fourie in the future.

What is your name and age? Richard Fourie and I will be 26 in November.

Where do you live? I live in Cape Town, Milnerton.

Tell us about your family? I am married to Tatum Lea and we have a wonderful daughter, Mia,  who is turning 3 in September. We also have 2 Jack Russels, Charley and Iola.

Where did you spend your youth? I grew up in Jhb. We moved a lot and I lived just about everywhere in Jhb. My father passed away when I was 5 years old so my mom had to look after 3 kids, which was not easy.

What is your earliest memory of wanting to be involved with horses? I was about 10 years old when I went on a fishing trip with my family. On one particular day my older half-brother said that one day I would become a jockey. From that day on I was hooked-fish, line and sinker!

Were you or your family in any way connected to horses or horse racing? No- I am the first in our family.

How did you get involved in horseracing? Through a close friend of the family who had some connections to racing.

Do you remember your first ride and what it was on? Yes! I remember it like yesterday. It was on a horse called Mexican Fighter for Pat Lunn.

Where did you spend most of your apprenticeship? In Durban. I then moved to Cape Town and have made it my new home.

Were there any trainers who took a special interest in you and mentored you? Yes there were many and I am grateful to all of them for what they taught me.

Which of the senior jockeys did you look up to and ask for advice? Well, when you are young you look up to all the top jocks but my favourites were “The Gov”, Jeff Lloyd and “Striker” Piere Strydom.

What was your first winner and what feeling did it give you crossing the line in first place? It was on Groovy Baby and the feeling was remarkable. It was like hitting a hole in one and in fact the feeling is so good that I just want to do it again and again.

How much did you weigh when you started riding and what do you weigh now? When I joined the academy I weighed 33,5 kg and now I walk around at 53kg.

Do you have any problems with your mass or are you naturally a light weight? No,not really, but I must watch what I eat.

Despite the fact that you were doing really well in SA you decided to accept a contract and ride in Mauritius. What was the motivation behind that move? I went to Mauritius because it was the right time for me. I had no commitments holding me here so I decided I would travel.

How did you enjoy riding in Mauritius and what do you think you learnt from that experience? Mauritius is a very tight track and I learnt a lot riding on it. What I enjoyed about Mauritius racing were the huge crowds. Every Saturday at Champ de Mar felt like a  Vodacom Durban July and J&B Met day. It was truly amazing!

How many winners did you ride in Mauritius? I only had 11 winners which is an uneven number so I will have to go back there some day and even it out.

What was the best horse you rode in Mauritius? I rode for a small stable and when you are a contracted rider you are not allowed to ride for other stables. I would say the most honest horse a I rode was Schecado.

On your return home you have picked up where you left off with Justin Snaith. With the Cape season about to start how excited are you about the horses you would be riding? The Snaith racing Team have been very supportive of my career and since I have returned as a better rider, from a competitive point of view, I am hoping to have more success with the Snaith team and all other trainers who have supported me in my quest to become SA champion jockey.

Which horses do you think will do really well for you and the stable in the next couple of months? I am fortunate to be riding many horses right now which should do really well. I would say that a horse to follow would be Gimmethegreenlight.

Have you ridden Ebony Flyer since she has been operated on and how well is she doing? I have never ridden anything as good as Ebony Flyer. This filly is in a class of her own and she is doing just fine.

If she wins the Queens Plate there is talk that she will try to run in the Breeders Cup in the USA. How realistic do you think that is? Yes it is very realistic that she will run in the Breeders Cup.

From a personal point of view how do you rate Ebony Flyer as against Igugu? Two very different types of horse. Both are amazing horses over their own distances but Ebony-what a filly…..

You have married into a really big racing family. How has that affected your life and do you have plans to ride for your father-in-law, Glen Puller? My life is pretty much the same. I don’t get much time to ride for my father-in-law but he supports me whenever he can and every bit of support helps a lot.

You appear to have a big ‘fan club’. Do you give any of your fans guidance about your horses so that the can make better decisions about which horses to back? Yes I would like to thank the public for following me. My suggestion is to come to the races-look at the horses in the parade ring and look for tight bellies and how fresh and alert they are. When all looks well and the form is there then it is worth having a bet.

Some jockeys say they can feel when they are on a good horse. Others have ridden champions and say they feel like plodders. Does a ‘big’ horse give you a different feel to an ‘ordinary’ one? The moment I jump on a good horse I know it is special. Whether it is a good horse or just ordinary I just know.

Racing is no ordinary job and can be very tough. What motivates you to lead a disciplined life in order to be able to ride as many winners as possible? Good people around me and my wife and daughter is all the motivation I need. I once asked a great jockey the same question and he said, “Do it for the kids”.

What is your favourite aspect of riding? Simple…riding a 500kg animal is truly remarkable and each and every horse has its own way of doing things. It’s not like riding a bike, horses have their own minds.

What is the thing about riding that you like least? The inconsistency of the stipendiary stewards.

Which do you consider is the best horse you have won on to date? I have ridden a lot of great horses like Jay Peg, Captain’s Lover, Russian Sage, Dancers Daughter, Gypsy’s Warning, Our Giant, Mother Russia and many more but the one which stands out for me is Jay Peg.

Do you have an agent or do you book all your own rides? Yes I do have an agent.

Having had a good riding stint in Mauritius how keen are you to ride overseas again?For now I will stay at home and work really hard but I will definitely be going abroad again sometime in the future.

The highs of the game are fantastic but how do you cope with the lows? I just keep going and and don’t let it bother me. It is a big wheel that keeps turning.

Do you find that people treat you differently when you are having success as opposed to when things are not going well? As long as you know who your friends are everything else will look after itself.

Do you tell your friends to have a good bet on a horse you are riding when you feel you have a really big chance? No-I don’t want that kind of stress.

What has been the most exciting and satisfactory day you have had as a jockey thus far? Having 5 winners in one day but the highlight has been receiving my Springbok blazer for horse racing. Is it such an honour and motivates me to to do the best I can with my career.

Have you modeled your riding style on any jockey you particularly admire or have you decided to do it ‘your‘ way? I don’t really know. I took things from different jockeys and combined it with my own style plus some of Mr Basil Marcus’ knowledge and what you see is the result.

Racing is going through a particularly tough time. Have you any suggestion as to how more interest could be generated in the game? Go back to the basics and advertise racing better. There could also be 2 or 3 day racing carnivals to attract the younger crowd.

Which stallion’s progeny would you like to ride as often as possible? Jet Master. It is to be hoped that he can overcome his setback as soon as possible.

Outside of racing what else are you passionate about? Fishing, fishing and then more fishing.

Which horse, Igugu aside, do you rate as the best horse running in South Africa right now? I am impressed by The Apache.

If you have to name the most important lesson you have learnt about racing thus far what would you say that is? Don’t believe you know it all because horses will always make a fool of you.

If pressed to advise anyone how they should bet in order to make money punting what would you say? I think the place accumulator is a fair bet.

How much time do you spend studying form? Not enough. I really need to channel more time and effort into form study.

The battle between Anthony Delpech and Anton Marcus for the champion jockey title  really caught the racing public’s imagination. Has that epic battle inspired you to want to become SA’s champion jockey? It was an interesting battle between two top jockeys and I would like to congratulate both of them on a job well done. Being champion jockey is every jockey’s dream and I will be out to achieve that dream.

The control of racing is now very strict. Is there anything more, in your opinion, that you think the authorities could or should do to make racing even straighter? No it is very good, although I feel there should be more consistency.

What is your philosophy on the racing game? Racing is the sport of kings but it has lost that image and we need to get it back.

If you had one piece of advice for your fellow associates in the racing world what would it be? Don’t take no for an answer and keep pushing doors until they open.

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