Profile – Gareth Wright

Gareth Wright

Gareth Wright is a bright young man who has already attracted the interest of top trainer Justin Snaith. Gareth now lives on the Snaith’s training establishment and the close contact and rapport he has with the Snaith family is sure to benefit him greatly as an up and coming apprentice.  He also has the opportunity to ride work with, and learn from, the great Felix Coetzee. For those looking to follow the career of a really promising young apprentice then Gareth Wright should not disappoint.

What is your name and age?
My name is Gareth Wright and I am 20 years old.

Where do you live? I stay in Cape Town.

Tell us about your family? There are three of us in my family. My father passed away when my sister and I were very young. My mother, sister and myself are very close and I would have to say they are my biggest fans (laughs).

Where did you go to school? Before I joined the academy I attended Maritsburg College in Pietermaritzburg. I left school in grade 10 to join the Jockey Academy.

What were your great interests at school? To be honest I didn’t enjoy school much, I always looked forward to the sporting activities after school. If it was not for them school would have been tougher. Just kidding but I can get lazy at times. I preferred the physical activities to the mental activities.

How did it come about that you decided that you would like to be a jockey? Growing up I was slightly smaller than my friends but that was not the reason. My parents had always had the idea of me becoming a jockey and they applied.  I always enjoy being with animals. I knew nothing about horse racing but was excited to have a go so I applied to the academy when I was in grade 9.

Who had the greatest influence on you in deciding to become a jockey? I wouldn’t say anyone had a great influence on my decision to become a jockey, it was pretty much a joint decision. The subjects I had chosen at school weren’t the best for me and I wasn’t doing as well as I thought I would make my decision based on that.

When did you go to the academy? I joined the jockey academy at the age of sixteen on 11th January 2007.

Who was with you at the academy and who were your special friends? There were just a hand full of us in my first year and all which are still with the academy.  ‘Grant, Jp, Twaro, Athandiwe and myself’. I wouldn’t say I had a special friend. I think it is safe to say I got along with all of them as I am a friendly guy.

Who were the trainers who took a special interest in you when you first started riding? When I started I was very quiet and unsure of what was expected from me and that put me behind because, as a jockey, you have to put your self out there. At that early stage I think it was just my work in the mornings that started me off. There were a few trainers who really gave me opportunities and I am grateful for that. I would say Des Egdes gave me most of the support when I started and we had many winners together which put me out there.

Which was the first horse you won on and who was the trainer and where did you ride it? The first horse I won on was a filly named ‘Flying Day’. She was a temperamental filly but she had a big heart. It was at Scottsville race course over 1600m. My first winner was for Mr Denysschen.

What is your optimum riding mass? I am able to ride at 50kg if necessary.

In which centres did you ride before settling in the Cape? I rode work mainly at Ashburton and Clairwood that is where I got most of my support and occasionally at Summerveld.

Living in the Cape it must be difficult to arrange rides in Port Elizabeth. Do you have an agent in PE to handle your riding engagements there? When I used to travel I was lucky enough to get involved in a few stables which gave me the support. I did not have an agent but would contact the riding master in Port Elizabeth.

You are now living on the Snaith’s training establishment. How did this come about and how permanent is this arrangement? Honestly I am not sure. I occasionally rode the Snaith’s work and my main focus was elsewhere. Mr Curtis told me that the Snaith’s were looking for an apprentice and he said my name came up. It hit me by surprise. I guess I got lucky!  I would like it to continue as long as possible because as an apprentice it’s not easy to do well as a young rider and by being part of a team is such an advantage.

Do you automatically get horses with the light mass to ride or is it up to Justin to decide which you will ride? When it comes to rides Mr Snaith makes the decisions.

Was racing always a passion of yours? I didn’t really know much about racing until I started racing. The more I race the more passionate I get.
Do you ride work every morning? Yes I do even sometimes on Sundays depending on the mid week race meeting. I really enjoy riding work.

Which do you rate the best horse you have won on thus far? I would have to say ‘RUN FOR IT’. I recently won my first listed race on him.

With the Cape season now in full swing which horses do you think will pay to follow? There are a number of decent horses in the Cape, ‘Ebony Flyer’, ‘What A Winter’ and there are others.

Do you ever get nervous before the start of an important race? Yes I do get a little nervous. It is exciting to ride in the bigger races, I try keep a cool head and concentrate on what I have to do.

Do most trainers give you strict riding instructions before a race or are you allowed to ‘ride them as you find them’? Most trainers give instructions before the race – some are strict and some are not.

Racing in SA, and around the world, is going through a tough time finding new followers and punters.  Have you any ideas as to how to get racegoers back to the race course and how to attract more people to the game? I would try put racing out there more, take the racing to the people and try to draw them back. Televise the racing on SABC on weekends and advertise it more and not only on Tellytrack. It seems people have lost interest in horse racing and we need to find a way to make them more interested. Its not gonna be easy.

You have become up close and personal with some  of the big names in racing. Who of these personalities has had a really big influence on you in racing and in your daily life? I ride a lot with Felix Coetzee in the mornings, and a few other jockeys, and by watching them and listening to them I would say I have learned a lot and am progressing as a rider.

Are all of your family as interested in racing as you are? Yes most of them. Since I started riding they have grown fond of racing and have given me a lot of support.

Who are the trainers who give you the most support in PE? Mr Roberts,Mr Wiese and Mr Snaith. I do get some help from the rest of the trainers.

Do you find much of a difference between riding in Cape Town and riding in PE? Yes I do. The pace of the races differ and the race tracks are also different.

What do you enjoy most about being a jockey? I enjoy being with the horses in the morning. It is such a good feeling being on the back of a horse at such a great speed, and, of course, winning a race.

Is there anything about being a jockey which you don’t like and would like to change? No, its the life I chose so I must deal with what ever it brings.

If you have to name the most important lesson you have learnt about racing what would you say that is? Be persistent. Put yourself out their and keep working. Don’t let racing get u down and keep a positive and level head.

Which horse do you think could emerge as the ‘star’ of the Cape season? I would have to go with one of the Snaith’s horses.

From where you sit do you think it is possible for any punter to make a living by backing horses? Possibly but they would need to be financially secure. In order to win the big bucks you have to be willing to lose some. There are people who are lucky but I wouldn’t suggest it.

Apart from racing what else are you really passionate about? I enjoy playing golf and pretty much any other sport I am open to anything which looks interesting.

How do spend your free time? I visit my family and chill with my friends and do what ever comes to mind.

Is there, at this early stage, a most memorable moment in your time in racing? I think I am still at an early stage because I feel I am just getting started and must really get to know what racing is about. Must be my first winner and my first listed winner recently.

Have you attempted to model yourself on any particular jockey that you really admire?
I try to model my self as a rider on how I want to be seen. I watch all the jockeys that are doing well and take bits from all of them and try to mold my riding style from that.

Does the success SA trainers and jockeys are having overseas inspire you to want to try your hand at riding overseas? I would love to ride overseas one day. If the opportunity comes round I will jump at it.

Are most of your friends connected to racing? Pretty much so but I do have friends outside of racing.

What is your philosophy on the racing game? I think racing is pretty straight. People say racing is in trouble but I think it will get better.

What are your short term goal for yourself as a person and in the racing world? I would like to become top apprentice in the country and would like to grow as a person and as a jockey. I will do the best I can with what I have .

From what you have observed of racing do you think the game is straight? Yes.

If you had one piece of advice for your fellow associates in the racing world what would it be?

Have Your Say - *Please Use Your Name & Surname

Comments Policy
The Sporting Post encourages readers to comment in the spirit of enlightening the topic being discussed, to add opinions or correct errors. All posts are accepted on the condition that the Sporting Post can at any time alter, correct or remove comments, either partially or entirely.

All posters are required to post under their actual name and surname – no anonymous posts or use of pseudonyms will be accepted. You can adjust your display name on your account page or to send corrections privately to the EditorThe Sporting Post will not publish comments submitted anonymously or under pseudonyms.

Please note that the views that are published are not necessarily those of the Sporting Post.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments



Popular Posts