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Anthony Delpech

Anthony Delpech

Anthony Delpech

ANTHONY DELPECH (44) has enjoyed a remarkable career as a professional jockey and holds the record for the most number of wins (334) in a season. He shares the record of four wins in the country’s most prestigious race, the Durban July, and has ridden in countries such as Mauritius, Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong and Japan with much success. Undoubtedly, his greatest moments abroad came when he partnered the great Vengeance Of Rain to victory in the Dubai Sheema Classic for David Ferraris. After returning home a few years ago he has teamed up successfully with the powerful Mike de Kock yard and has landed numerous Grade 1’s. He partners the stable’s new star, VERCINGETORIX in this Saturday’s Grade 1 Daily News 2000 and we and all Anthony’s supporters will be watching the unbeaten son of Silvano’s progress with great interest.

 What is your name? Anthony Clay Delpech.

What is your star sign and birthdate? I am an Aquarian and I was born on February 10 1969.

Where were you born and where did you grow up?  I was born and grew up in the Seychelles.

Where do you live? I live in Hillcrest.

Tell us about your family? I am married to Candice and we have 3 children. Damon (16), Chelsea (13) and Brooklyn (5).

Do you have a ‘nickname’? Yes, Bonji.

Favourite food? Steak.

Favourite drink? Beer.

Favourite music? Country music.

Favourite sport? I like watching rugby and I like playing golf.

Favourite soccer team? Arsenal.

Favourite holiday destination? Seychelles.

Favourite author? I am not a reader.

Which characteristic about yourself do you like the most? I am very calm on big race days.  My experience of riding at big meetings in Hong Kong has stood me in good stead.

Is there anything the public don’t know about Anthony Delpech that they would be interested to know? I am very much a person that what you see is what you get.

Where did you go to school and what qualification did you receive? I went to Glenwood Boys High and matriculated at the jockey academy.

What sort of student were you and what subject did you really enjoy studying? I was  a bad student and did not enjoy studying.

In which year did you join the academy, where were you based and who were your fellow apprentices? I joined the academy in 1982. My fellow apprentices were Anton Marcus, Mark Khan and Marthinus Mienie.

Which senior people in racing had a major influence on you during your apprenticeship? Trainer Joey Joseph.

Who was the first trainer that you were apprenticed to and for how long? I served my apprenticeship with Joey Joseph. I was with him for three years.

Tell us about your first winner? I rode a horse for Colin Lee called Thrasher.

What year did you qualify from the academy and who were the trainers that supported you thereafter? I qualified in 1987 and rode for Herman Brown and Mike Airey.

You struck up a fine partnership with David Ferraris in South Africa and landed your first July winner for him, aboard Classic Flag. Tell us about that brilliant ride from draw 18 and describe the feeling? He was drawn very badly and raced wide so it was a tough ride. He was a great horse and it was only coming to the final 100m that I knew I would win.

David Ferraris then left the South African training ranks for Hong Kong and you and your family relocated with him. How successful were you’ll abroad? I rode in Singapore and Dubai before leaving for Hong Kong. To start with I rode for the Jockey Club before riding for David.

Tell us about the facilities e.g. training tracks, stables and racecourses in Hong Kong? Everything in Hong Kong is immaculate, state of the art. There is really big money in racing in Hong Kong and the money is spent to make everything top class.

How many racecourses are there in Hong Kong? There are two, Happy Valley and ShaTin.

How would you compare South Africa’s facilities to Hong Kong? It would be unfair to compare as no money is spared in Hong Kong to have everything of the best.

Tell us about the lifestyle there and did your family enjoy it? To begin it was all new and exciting but there is not really much to do in Hong Kong and it does become boring. If I had not become involved with Vengeance Of Rain I would have returned to South Africa sooner than I did.

In Hong Kong came possibly the best period of your life when you struck up a partnership with the great Vengeance Of Rain for David Ferraris. Tell us about that partnership, what did you’ll achieve together and is he close to being the best you have ridden of all time? I was very lucky to have become involved with him. He was a truly great horse and there are not many who can compare to him.

What made you come back to South Africa? As I said before life in Hong Kong became boring and I did not feel it was a good life for my family.

How long after coming back to South Africa did you land the job with Mike de Kock? I had spoken to Kevin Shea in Hong Kong and he had organized with Mike that I come straight back to him.

The Mike de Kock team gave you your second, third and fourth July wins with GREYS INN, BOLD SILVANO and IGUGU. Talk us through these highlights of your career? It was really lucky that I was able to ride three really great horses in Greys Inn, Bold Silvano and Igugu. Greys Inn was very good and we did not see the best of him in South Africa. Bold Silvano was another top horse who kept getting better and better. Igugu, of course, is a phenomenon. She never shirked the issue and always gave of her best.

You have gone on record to say that you will never ride a filly as great as IGUGU and she repaid your faith shown in her with an unbelievable victory in the J & B Met of 2012. It was well publicized that she didn’t have the best prep going into that race but still she emerged victorious. Tell us about that Met? For the Met her preparation was not 100%. In fact it was touch and go whether she would run or not and Mike de Kock really made a last minute decision to run her. That run can only be described as phenomenal.

She was pushed very hard under a brilliant ride from yourself to win that day. Could that be the run that has broken her as she under-performed on the world stage since? I don’t think so. Since then she has never travelled well and has not been herself as she has been in season most of the time.

You teamed up with the great mare in Dubai and then Hong Kong this year but without success. Has she felt the same in her gallops or in her races as she did whilst in South Africa? She has never been a filly who has shown much in work in the mornings.

What are the future plans for her? At this stage I don’t know but I am sure trainer Mike de Kock is planning what to do with her.

Is it safe to say that the De Kock yard have had a quiet season thus far in terms of winning Group 1 races in South Africa? The early part of the season has been a bit quiet but it must be remembered that many of his top horses are racing overseas.

That said, the highlight for the De Kock yard this season has to be the unbeaten RUMYA’s brilliant victory in the Grade 1 Avontuur Estate Cape Fillies Guineas run at Kenilworth in December. This particular race had proven to be elusive for the yard in recent years so it must have been a really satisfying feeling for all when she won. Tell us about this day and this special filly? It was great winning on her as she is a very good filly.

What setback has she suffered since and when will she return? I am not aware of any setbacks she may have suffered.

FESTIVAL OF FIRE travelled down for that same Guineas but could only manage a fair fifth. However, she has come back to her level best since and easily won the Grade 2 KRA Fillies Guineas at Greyville in early May. What are your thoughts on her and how do you compare her to Rumya? Rumya is a couple of lengths better. Festival Of Fire probably only goes about 1600m while Rumya can go further.

On the same day at Greyville a new De Kock star was born in the form of the unbeaten VERCINGETORIX. He shocked the punting world with his short head defeat of the odds-on favourite CAPETOWN NOIR despite racing green. Talk us through that race? We did not think he would win at this stage of his career. That win was very encouraging and he is improving all the time.

He obviously has tons of room for improvement and has the stable always rated him highly? He does not show much in work and leaves everything he has for his races.

You sat on him in a race for the first time in his last start. What type of feel does he give you and is he an easy ride? He is a straight forward type of horse. He is very lazy  but responds quickly when asked for an effort. He is a complete gentleman.

He once again clashes with Capetown Noir in the Daily News 2000, this Saturday. How has his work been since and how confident are you that he will handle the extra 400m? His work is as good as it was before his last win. The race will show just how well he stays the trip.

With both runners drawn fairly well in that race, do you think that it will be a match-race between them? No, I think the race will be very competitive.

Mention some other promising horses from the De Kock yard that the public can follow during the KZN winter season? There are lots of up and coming young horses and I do not know all their names.

What do you make of Mujaarib’s last run? He ran a good race. He found the trip too short and will be better over further.

Do you think he will be a top miler? I think his best trip will be between a mile and 10 furlongs.

Do you enjoy studying pedigrees and which stallions really excite you? Avontuur are my sponsor’s and I am really excited about Var and Oratorio.

What do Avontuur expect of you for their sponsorship? Avontuur pay me a salary and bonuses for Grade 1 and Grade 2 races. For this they expect me to advertise their horses.

Do you ever have a bet on a horse? No.

Mention the different countries that you have ridden? Mauritius, Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong and Japan.

You hold the South African record of 334 winners in a season. This is undoubtedly one of the highlights of your career. Do you think that that feat will ever be matched in South African racing again? I hope the record never gets beaten.

How many Jockeys Championships have you won? I have won 2.

You came bitterly close to securing another championship three seasons ago but eventually lost out to your old rival Anton Marcus. This has been a slow season for you but can we expect Anthony Delpech to be more competitive for the title in the new season? I won’t be running around trying to win the championship. I will be concentrating on my stable.

What other interests do you have in your life? Not many as horse racing and all it entails takes up all my time.

What are your short and long-term ambitions? Ride for as long as possible but only while I am capable of winning.

Your son is getting big now. Do you take him to the stables and does he enjoy being with horses? Not anymore. He used to enjoy it but he is now more interested in school and sport.

Does the maxim, “Behind every successful man is an equally successful woman,” apply to Anthony Delpech? Yes, I am very fortunate that Candice, and my family, support me in every way. It makes a big difference to my life.

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