Profile – Vicky Minott

Vicky Minott

It seemed that VICKY MINOTT’s career, as a jockey, was going full steam ahead until she had an operation on her ankle for an old injury. That break from training, and racing, gave Vicky the chance to re-evaluate her future and the result is that she is now embarking on a whole new career as a TV racing analyst with Tellytrack. Thus far she has been like a breath of fresh air blowing in the corridors of Tellytrack. Vicky, even at her relatively young age, has well balanced unbiased views on the Cape racing scene and her pretty face livens up the screen. Vicky freely admits that leaving her career as a jockey has not been easy and it would be foolish to say that we will not, ever, see her back in the saddle. For now Vicky is quite content to learn as much about her new job and enjoy it as much as possible. From the viewer’s side of things it is a pleasure seeing this young lady in action. We welcome her into the ranks of TV presenters and wish her all success in her new venture.   

What is your name?  Vicky Minott.

What is your star sign and birth date? Scorpio, 14 November 1985.

Where were you born? In an interesting little town in Northern Kwa Zulu Natal called, Vryheid.

Where do you live? I currently live in the Western Cape 5 min away from a beautiful beach with the best view of one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, Table Mountain, and, on a clear day, Robben Island is also in sight.

Tell us about your family? They’re loving, supportive and great company. I’m blessed with 2 grandmothers, Dawn and Elaine who are incredibly strong woman. A charismatic grandfather, Ken, my father, Gordon, who is a businessman with a very kind heart and who is always only a phone call away and my dearest brother, Gavin, who’s silently been very proud of me over the years. He’s now kept very busy with his two adorable sons, Luke and Gabriel.  All of whom stay in the same town I was born in.

Do you have a ‘nickname’? I’ve had, and still have, countless nicknames. A few years ago Stephen Page said I should call myself Victoria Minott (pronounced the french way with the “t’s“ being silent). My reply was only when I’m famous. So hopefully in a few years I’ll be able to use that option.

Favourite book?  50 Colors Of Happiness. I’m very passionate about being comfortable in my own skin and embracing my journey to happiness and inner peace.

What are you currently reading?  Lots of race horse form to be on the ball for Tellytrack.

Favourite movie? The Sweetest Thing and White Oleander.

Favourite food?  This summer it’s salads. My all-time favorite is, hands down, roast lamb with roast potatoes.

Favourite drink?  News Cafe’s classic French martini and something called a Sexy Pepper from my favourite restaurant Pepeneros.

Favourite music? I’ve never had a specific favourite but I’m a huge Lady Gaga and Robbie Williams fan.

Favourite sport?  Outside of horse racing I don’t really have one. I enjoy watching various sport. I’m an active person who gyms a lot. One thing I’d love to try is sand boarding.

Favourite holiday destination?  Does it really matter? The whole point is being on holiday.

Who is the person you would most like to meet?  Kate Hudson, she seems like an absolute riot and seems to have a good outlook on life.

What is the quality you like most about yourself? I enjoy the fact that I can see a lot of beauty in the world and that I can see the good in people.

Where did you go to school?  I was blessed to matriculate at Treverton College, where I was both horse riding prefect and a dormitory prefect.

As a school girl were you very ‘sporty’ or were you also academically minded?  I was a teacher’s nightmare. I was either talking in class or sleeping and I constantly got kicked out of classes, not for being disrespectful but for being too free spirited. I was blessed with some intelligence so I didn’t have to study to get average marks. So sports were high up on my list of interests. Treverton is an outdoor orientated school so sport was compulsory. Being situated on a huge property, in the midlands, Treverton had horse riding facilities and was an official school sport. So that’s where I spent the majority on my afternoons.

How did it come about that you applied to the jockey academy to become a jockey?  I’ve ridden since the age of 6. I have looked though all my year books and have seen that every year, since I started riding, I’d written consistently and that my only dream career was to be a jockey. When I went to high school I didn’t fill in that stuff anymore. Throughout high school I never put much thought into what I wanted to study. I chose to take a gap year and enroll in the Racing and Equestrian academy’s post matric course, where I gained my SANEF level 1 and a certificate in both stud and stable management. It was during this time that I got some insight into the racing world. I started training with Mr Curtis and shortly afterwards applied and was accepted.

Were any of your family involved, or interested, in horse racing? My father, in his younger years, was an apprentice for a farrier and worked as a handler at the start at Turffontein. Other than that, not really.

When did you join the academy?  As an equestrian in 2004 and as an apprentice jockey in 2005.

Were you the only female at the academy when you joined?  On the racing side, at that time there was Carla Sturlese (now Lerena), Nicola Welsh, Samantha Freedman, Melishni Pillay, Jessica Goslett and Ntabiseng Ndlovu. So I was by no means alone.

Who were your fellow apprentices at the academy when you joined?  The people in my year were Lucian Africa, Vydir Singh, Andile Mlaba, Donovan Howell, Derrick David, Melishni Pillay, Ntabiseng Ndlovu, Karis Teetan and Roby Bheekary.

How were you treated by the young men at the academy?  I was treated as “one of the boys”. I believe you should treat others as you would like to be treated. I believe we all respected each other, with our fair share of ups and downs, but that’s only natural.

Were you treated any differently than the young men at the academy? In the beginning I was treated a bit differently, having ridden before and having some knowledge about horses. Most first years don’t have knowledge on arrival. I had different responsibilities at stables, such as bandaging and seeing to the minor injuries. When I started riding work we were all treated the same.

What did a day in your life at the academy entail?  My day started with stables. Then a lesson with the riding master, cleaning my horse and putting him in the paddock. Breakfast followed. After that TV and then lunch.  After lunch there was a lesson on the equiciser followed by afternoon stables. When I started riding work I rode work in the morning and only went to stables in the afternoons.

Did you ever feel that life at the academy is too tough for a young women? I never really felt that way. It was just difficult when I was informed that I had to do 20 qualifying rides up the straight instead of the normal 10. I questioned this and was told it was not up for discussion as the reason was that girls are weak. I was frustrated but I put my head down, worked harder and proved them wrong.

How long were you in the academy before you rode your first horse in a race? I was at the academy for about 1 year and 3 months before my first race ride.

Tell us about your first ride and how exciting it was for you? My first ride was wonderful. I rode Rebel Patriot over 1200m at Clairwood, trained by Duncan Howells and owned by the Carlisle’s. I was told furlong by furlong what to do. I followed all the instructions and had a great time. I looked around in the race and absorbed everything knowing this first ride would never happen again. I ran 4th and was so impressed with myself, especially as my whole family was there to support me.

Who were the trainers who took the most interest in you and was there any particular trainer who mentored you? I mainly rode work in Ashburton because the trainers there put me on and gave me horses to ride that challenged me.  All of them gave me chances and advice. Mike and Pat Riley challenged my strength and resilience at work by putting me on the horses that pulled. Michael Roberts taught me a lot about how to work horses correctly and what to identify in their work for soundness according to the horses stride and the horses ability. He taught me how to think out of the box. Thinking back, the biggest help was the faith people had in me, especially when the going got tough. I’m very grateful for all the pearls of wisdom I’ve gathered.

Which was your first winner and where was that?  My first winner was for Mike and Pat Riley on Silverson at Scottsville over 1000m. I jumped out of the pens like lightning and led by 3 lengths from start to finish. I never saw or heard another horse in the race.

Which was the best horse, in your opinion, that you won on?  It has to be Diana’s Choice.

You appeared to be fairly well settled in Cape Town, getting your fair share of winners. What was it that caused you to consider giving up riding and going into a different career?  I did very well as an apprentice, I was given lots of opportunities. As a jockey things didn’t work out as successfully. I went for an operation on my ankle to remove some plates and screws from a previous break which gave me some time to think about things going forward. I felt the need to branch out and explore some options so that I had other career paths to follow. Many jockey’s typically don’t have this luxury so while youth is on my side I must grab all opportunities with both hands.

What was your most exciting moment as a jockey?  Winning the juvenile listed event on J&B Met day on Diana’s Choice.

Are you keeping your hand in by riding work in the morning?  I haven’t yet but would like to start soon. I just keep putting it off.

Who do you ride work for and what is your riding mass right now?  When/if I ride work I’ll probably start riding for Shane Humby and branch out when I’m a bit fitter. I’m lucky that in my racing career weight was only a problem when my lead bag was too heavy. I’m currently walking around at 45kgs.

Do you still study form and sometimes have a bet on a horse or take a place accumulator, jackpot or pick 6?  I study a lot of form now, more from a betting point of view compared to a tactical way when I was riding. I currently have a jockey’s licence so I’m not allowed as per Jockey Club rules, to bet.

Now that you have become an ‘armchair critic’, so to speak, do you see the mistakes a jockey might make and criticize him for it?  I can see certain mistakes, and good riding tactics too. It’s tough out there and every jockey wants to win and will make the best choices throughout the race to do so. Jockeys criticize themselves enough, if not the other jockeys will.

With the Cape season now in full swing the two feature events this weekend are the Victress Stakes and the Calulo Services Premier Trophy. How do you see these two races panning out?

Victress Stakes (Grade 3)

EUROPE TO AFRICA has outstanding form, beating Act Fast and running 3rd just 1,45 lengths behind Tribal Dance. Drawn 2 she would be my first choice. She’s a consistent filly that has done well in some competitive fields.

RAZZLE DAZZLE ROSE was a winner last time beating DUBAI GINA. Drawn 1, it makes it a whole lot easier for her. Distance suited. Her last run reflects that she is back to herself.

FREQUENT FLYER isn’t drawn well but definitely has the credentials to win here. 2.25 lengths behind Princess Victoria and 1.60 lengths behind Happy Archer are two runs that reflect her ability. She handles the distance well and beat a few horses in this field on level weights last time so should she repeat that run she should finish up in the first 3.

DUBAI GINA has to be considered. Competitive filly, she is entered into the J&B MET.  She would’ve needed her last run and it was a great run.

Justin Snaith has in form fillies that are up and coming and shouldn’t be ignored.

Calulo Services Premier Trophy (Grade 2)

MASTER PLAN has trained on to be a consistent classy horse. He had a very successful Durban season. His two runs back in the Cape have been good efforts, considering he needed them. With a good prep Master Plan is a big runner.

RUN FOR IT finished 4th, just 1,35 lengths behind Igugu in the J&B MET this year. He’s only had one run since, finishing 2nd behind the talented Cape Town Noir. I’ve always liked this horses running style. He keeps impressing me.

ENGLISH GARDEN thrives over this 1800m trip. I think it’s his best distance, his form confirms it. Drawn in at 1, a lot is in his favour. His recent form is good. Even though English Garden is my pick from the yard I think the other Bass runners aren’t out of it either.

BLACK WING is another of my fancied competitors here. Brett Crawford is doing a great job training this horse. He has won some gutsy races in strong company.

The mare in the race BEACH BEAUTY shouldn’t be ignored.

If you had to continue your career as a jockey is there anything, which you have thought about and which you will now do differently?  Not really, probably just work harder and spend my time more wisely after work. You can never work hard enough in racing, neither can you get your time back.

It seems more and more young women are thinking of becoming jockeys. From your experience as a woman jockey what advice would you give, if asked, about woman becoming jockeys?  Work hard, very hard. Be very professional and have a plan B.

How difficult a decision was it for you to decide to stop riding and go into presenting racing on TV?  It was more difficult than what I thought it would be. It’s not easy to walk away from riding. I will always be involved with horses and I’m hoping to get a horse next year to train up and compete in show jumping. Leaving the riding was difficult but the transition felt natural.

It is early days yet but how fulfilling do you find presenting as opposed to being a jockey? It’s really great to voice my opinions and views and to use my racing knowledge to better inform the racing supporters, of what I think about the racing and horses.

Do you feel you will be happy to make presenting your full time career?  I don’t see why it shouldn’t be.

Did you ever give any thought to working for a trainer either in PR or even as an assistant trainer?  I feel things should never be ruled out as we don’t know what lies ahead. We can only hope, plan and dream.

What are your short term ambitions for your life at this moment in time? To polish my presenting skills and do things which challenge me.

Is there any chance that you could return to the saddle anytime in the near future? There is a chance. Like I said, I’m still a licenced jockey. I’d very much like to ride Jackson in the J&B MET so maybe I should return quickly (ha ha).

Is Vicky Minott ready to settle down, get married and have children or is there still a lot of travelling to be done before that scenario?  I would like to travel and explore some beautiful countries for now. I think it would be a shame not to explore while I don’t have a lot of responsibilities. I believe things in life, such as marriage and having children, will happen when life reveals the opportunity. That opportunity thus far has not presented itself so I’ll plan ahead until life throws me a couple curve balls to wise me up and grow me. Who knows what the future holds, I’m excited to see.



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