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Bonji Hits The Highway!

'I love everything about horseracing'

Last week’s Sporting Post Sprint cover-star, Aron ‘Bonji’ Xabendlini steered Prankster to victory in the final leg of the Hollywoodbets Workriders Series on 17 February.

It was a typically gregarious post-race interview by the man who famously asked Mike de Kock for the ride on Hawwaam in the Durban July.

A victorious Aron Xabendlini after winning on Prankster (Pic – Chase Liebenberg)

A go-getter who fears no opportunity, the quirky and charming son of the rustic town of Tsolo was typically bullish ahead of a rare Kannemeyer raid on the Highveld.

He leaves Milnerton on Wednesday morning with Dean Kannemeyer charge Cosmic Highway for a tilt at the R1,5 million Wilgerbosdrift Gr1 HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes.

The 5yo Cosmic Highway is yet to win at a mile, but ran a cracking prep on Saturday.

“Cosmic Highway ran a top race on Saturday in the Khaya Stables Diadem Stakes. He had no luck and was right on top of Thunderstruck. We are going up to win it,” adds Aron boldly.

On the eve of his Highveld road trip, Aron chirped out of the blue:

“I love everything about horseracing! But now I want to go overseas.”

Well, if you are going to set goals, you might as well go big and it’s obvious that Aron is unafraid to take hold of the reins and lead the way.

From the view in the stands, Work riders and Grooms are viewed as rather timid and reserved, and then ‘boom’, here’s Aron and his infectious determination with a zest for success.

He proudly shares a short bit of information about his birthplace and goes on to say he is ‘very single’ and feels it’s time for settling down now.

His drive towards the next challenge is evident and he explains that he wants to expand his career globally. Both as a groom and jockey, he hopes to build a financially stable future while doing what he loves.

He was born on 12 May 1989 in the Eastern Cape village of Tsolo.

The keen horseman once described his hometown as a scenic place without ‘too much economic opportunity’.

The scenic village is 40km north-west of the old Transkei ‘capital’ of Mthatha and reflected on his carefree days at home with his Mother and two Brothers – where he dreamt of making a success of his life.

But school wasn’t a walk in the park – Aron managed to pass the old Standard 8 and economic realities dictated that he earn a living.

Heading for the bright lights of the Mother City, his first job in horseracing was with the now retired Mike Bass at Milnerton.

“I have been fortunate to have been mentored and encouraged by so many good people in my career. Mike Bass, Craig du Plooy, James Maree, Dennis Drier and my current boss, Dean Kannemeyer are just a few good men who come to mind. I try and do my bit. I listen and watch and learn. I run to keep fit and to maintain a good riding weight. I’d obviously love to ride more often and increase my earning potential.”

Saturday’s SplashOut Gr1 Cape Derby winner Dean Kannemeyer labelled him an enthusiastic team member and a hardworking individual.

“Good work riders are gold and key to any stable. Aron has a good seat and a natural balance. He has been with us for many years and is a dependable guy with a terrific personality,” said Kannemeyer.

Cosmic Highway has drawn at 11 for Saturday’s feature and will be ridden by regular pilot Craig Zackey.

Next issue out on 28 February!

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