Although jockey Derreck David comes from a family steeped in racing, he is fiercely determined to reach the top of his profession doing it his way. His talent has been noticed by two of the countries’ top trainers, Gary Alexander and Geoff Woodruff. He is also making the most of the opportunities coming his way from Winning Form sponsored trainer, Paul Peter. Derreck’s top ride, right now, is undoubtedly Pierre Jourdan and, together they look ready to have some big successes in the near future. Fortunately, Derreck has his feet firmly planted on the ground and he will take whatever success comes his way. At the same time, he will be working and planning his way to get to his stated ambition which is a top 5 finish on the jockey’s log. Winning Form, and his host of followers, will be following his progress with great interest.
What is your name and age? Derreck Donavan Dennis David and I am 23 years old.
What is your star sign and birthdate? Leo, 27 July 1988.
Where were you born? Glenwood Hospital, Benoni.
Tell us about your family? My family consists of my mum, dad, my brother Buddy(turned 36 on 28 October), and three sisters, Tanya (37), Simone (32), Dora (25) and myself. Buddy and my parents run the family business, Tanya is the secretary at Turffontein Primary School, Simone works at Reggies and Dora is a Chartered Accountant at DHL.
Where do you live? Liefde en Vrede – the South of Johannesburg.
Do you have a ‘nickname’? DD.
Favourite food? Lebanese spaghetti.
Favourite drink? Lime and lemonade.
Favourite type of music? Michael Buble’.
Favourite sport? Soccer.
Favourite soccer team? There is only one team – Gunners for life, Arsenal.
You love riding speedy horses. What car do you drive? I don’t really like speed. I am more of a guy that enjoys a nice relaxing Sunday drive. I drive a BMW 320 coupe.
Where is your favourite holiday destination? A place we call “Little Lebanon” in Umhlanga Sands, Durban, during December.
Tell us about your first winner? My first winner was on the 18th March 2007, aboard trainer Craig Eudey’s CLASS IN A GLASS. Incidentally, my mum and dad owned the horse. It was the trainer’s first career winner and my parents’ first winner. It was a first for everyone and the most thrilling feeling ever (at least before my son Tyrus was born).
Your cousin is Bartie Leisher and one of your uncle’s is Donavan Habib. Both were highly successful jockeys. Do they offer you their advice? Yes, they are both role models in my life. Bartie always gives me sound advice in and outside of racing. Donavan and his family are great supporters of mine. They are like my second family. His two sons, Devon and Calvin are my favourite cousins. I love them to bits. They always help build my confidence.
Did either of them have any influence in your decision to become a jockey? Yes, I loved going to the track in the mornings with uncle Don from a very young age. The early years were really tough for me in the Academy and I contemplated ‘throwing in the towel’ on many occasions. My aunty Amanda (uncle Don’s wife) didn’t want to hear of it. She kept saying that I should persevere and if I still wanted to leave after my first winner, I would have her blessings. Needless to say, I was hooked after that first win and her brilliant advice is what saved my life. I am eternally grateful to her.
As an apprentice did you have any role models amongst the jockeys and did you try to model your riding style on any of the top jockeys? I did. I loved the way Mark Khan rode and how professional he was at all times. I used to, and still try to follow in his footsteps.
Did any of the senior jockeys befriend you and mentor you in your career? I was the kitboy to internationally renowned Glyn Schofield, but wasn’t befriended by any senior jockeys.
What is your ideal riding mass? I can easily ride at 52kgs and even 50kgs, if the need arises.
You started riding for Geoff Woodruff with some success. How did that come about? Devin Habib was stable jockey for Mr. Woodruff but had a terrible car accident. Mr. Woodruff didn’t have another jockey, and I was in the right place at the right time. It is very enjoyable riding for him as he doesn’t put too much pressure on you. Needless to say, we have been very successful as a team. I thank him wholeheartedly for everything he has done for me. Speaking of Devin, he is back riding work and is likely to return soon.
You have renewed your partnership with ‘the champ’ Pierre Jourdan or PJ as he is affectionately known. In his recent win over Without Malice he was impressive, despite obviously needing the run. How is he doing? He needed his last run badly but found his best foot late to win going away. It is interesting to note that the horse that finished seventh, Soul Master franked that form with a fine win, next time out. If I am not mistaken, Mr. Woodruff thinks that he could be a Summer Cup horse.
Is he ready for the Charity Mile and what are his main dangers? I have spoken to Gary Alexander and he has assured me that the horse is fit and well. PJ is my champion and we both will be raring to go, come this Saturday. The champion filly DANCEWITHTHEDEVIL is the obvious threat over a mile on the standside track, whilst WELWITSCHIA showed she might be something special, with her last win over the former, despite a lengthy absence. Incidentally, the latter is very well weighted and has Anton Marcus aboard. After all that, I still make Mr. Gray’s filly the big danger.
Is Pierre Jourdan’s main aim the Summer Cup? That is his mission.
He has never won a handicap. What do you think his chances would be in the Summer Cup? He is a true champion. The July was a handicap and he silenced all his critics with a brilliant performance. That was his debut outside Gauteng on a track that possibly didn’t suit him. I know that he will always give of his best and hopefully land the first prize.
Recently you have been riding for the Winning Form sponsored Paul Peter stable with some success. He is a very optimistic, open and friendly trainer. How is it riding for him? I have never met a more friendly and accommodating family within racing in my short career. Paul Peter is unbelievable to work for and so are his brother’s Johnny, Dominic and Gerard. Paul Peter is true to his word. The racing world needs more people such as trainer Paul Peter. He has put his trust in me and I hope, by the power of God, that we have a successful career together.
Apart from Magico, which of Paul Peter’s horses do you think are worth following? Winter’s Song, Magica Roma, Gold Site as well as Crunch Time.
In Gauteng you get the chance to ride on both turf and sand tracks. Do you find that there is a big difference on how you must ride your horse on the sand as opposed to turf? There is a very big difference when I race on the grass. You have to sit and time your rides and judge the pace. On the sand, I think it’s more luck in running.
Which do you prefer? The grass, by far.
You’re also having success in Zimbabwe. Do you enjoy riding there? I think Zim is a lovely country to ride in. The people are amazing in Zim and I love going up there. It is an absolute pleasure riding for someone like Lisa Harris, she is a very good trainer.
With the Cape season now in full swing will you be trying to get rides in any of their feature events? I am always willing to travel and if the chance arises I will take it with open arms.
Do you have an agent? Yes! Former champion jockey, Mark Khan is my agent.
Do you have a sponsor and how important do you think it is for a jockey to be sponsored? I do have a sponsor, Tim and Chris Hurly of Tyres 2000. It’s a huge help with buying racing kit.
What short terms goals do you have for your career? My goal this season is to finish in the top 5 on the jockey log. Thus far, it seems to be going fine.
Do you have any plans to ride overseas? None at the moment, but I would love to, should the opportunity materialize.
The Championship winning jockey is set to pocket R250 000 this season, thanks to Avontuur Stud. What are your views on this? It is a great incentive and the winning jockey will have earned it, come the end of the season. Well done Avontuur Stud.
How do you celebrate a big win? With my family & friends.
Which has been the most memorable and exciting day you have had in racing thus far? Most definitely, winning the Gr1 SA Classic on Pierre Jourdan.
If for any reason you had to give up being a jockey what else would you consider doing? I will work in the family business.
Do you ever advise friends or family to have a bet when you are riding a horse you feel has a really big wining chance? I hardly ever advise anyone to have a bet. However, my mum puts R50 places on every horse that I ride whilst dad just takes some PA’s. My mum says that I often arrive at big prices. Another supporter of mine is Joe Anthony who puts R50 wins on every horse that I ride, whilst Warrick Nassif is arguably my biggest supporter. He motivates me at ALL times.
Traditionally the Lebanese community love to have a bet. Does this put you under a lot of strain when riding a horse which you know is going to be well supported by them? I try my best to win on every horse I climb aboard. I don’t bother about the betting side of racing.
Outside of racing what is your biggest passion? I love spending time with my boy Tyrus. He is my world. The more time I spend with him, the better.
Are there any changes you would like to see made in racing to attract larger crowds to the tracks? I think racing is going in the right direction and we will start seeing more crowds at the course soon.
Are most of your friends connected to racing or is it a mix? I don’t really mix with people from racing, outside of the sport. My friends and girlfriend don’t have anything to do with racing.
Do you think enough is being done to keep racing ‘straight?’ Yes.
What is the most important lesson you have learnt in racing, thus far? Work hard at everything you do. Hard work always pays off. Never give up, no matter what!