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Jabu Is Jumping For Joy

Petrusville to Pietermaritzburg -and now the world!

Petrusville is a nine hour drive on the N5 and N3 to Pietermaritzburg.

But on Sunday at Hollywoodbets Scottsville in the KZN Capital City, the distance between the two diverse destinations was reduced to under two minutes as 20 year old apprentice Jabu Jacobs booted home the 60th winner of his short career, thus earning the honour of donning the prestigious white blazer of the SA Jockey Academy.

60 up for Winning Form’s Jabu Jacobs (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

The Winning Form-sponsored Jabu Jacobs took full advantage of a chance ride and showed balance and no shortage of determination to get the Querari filly Sea Eagle home for the Mike Miller team as the shadows lengthened over a largely deserted Hollywoodbets Scottsville.

The time that the Boland Stud-bred 3yo took to complete the 1750m and shed her maiden ticket at her third start was probably the longest 108,54 secs of Jabu’s recent working life.

The young man’s adrenaline-charged salute at the line spoke volumes of a significant milestone in his career.

The 60 winner mark means that he loses his claim and he told the Sporting Post afterwards that he expects to sign his papers soon.

“She is a nice filly and I believe she can only improve with experience. Thanks to Mr Craig Eudey and the owners for the opportunity and I send my best wishes to Serino (Moodley) that he is back to good health soon,” said the clearly pleased rider, once described by veteran champion jockey Garth Puller as a ‘pleasant and really courteous youngster.’

Jabu raises his crop in salute as Sea Eagle beats Space Oddity (Rachel Venniker) in an exciting finish (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

“I recall Jabu and Yuzae Ramzan coming to ride my work on Sundays. They would jump over the fence and walk over to the yard. Remember, that’s when the other guys are still fast asleep. They did it voluntarily and willingly. That’s how I measure attitude! And Jabu doesn’t sulk either. It’s easy to take a pat on the back – it’s when somebody tells you that you messed up that one’s character is really tested,”added Puller, a mentor to many a young apprentice.

Jabu is so modest that he couldn’t explain to us where or how he earned the nickname Jabu ‘Hotseat’ Jacobs.

“Donovan Dillon and Mr Peter Muscutt’s assistant often call me ‘Hotseat’. I’m really not sure where it comes from,” he laughs shyly.

He says that is very thrilled and appreciative of the support of his family, the SA Jockey Academy riding masters and staff, and all the trainers and owners that have helped him through the first phase of his career.

“It’s been tough and testing, but I am growing in confidence and that I believe is key,” said Jabu as he told the Sporting Post about his plans to move to the Cape.

“I’m keen to go down South. My Mom and Granny are down there and I enjoyed riding in the Mother City early on. It’s a move that makes sense to me and I appreciate my family’s involvement and their encouragement and support.”

Jabu tells us that his Dad and brother live in the Northern Cape town of Jan Kempdorp.

And not many would have heard of Jabu’s birthplace, Petrusville. With a population of not even 5000, the dorp that lies 10km south of the Orange River boasts a 145 year history of backwater solitude.

But the son of the Eastern Karoo continues to make solid strides in a burgeoning career as a professional jockey that commenced when his cousin Simone Jacobs introduced him to her partner, senior Cape jockey Robert Khathi.

Looking back on last season, Jabu, who is fairly tall and goes to saddle comfortably at 53kgs, rode 33 winners at a relatively modest strike-rate of 8,51%.

He is keen to improve on that and has made a flying start to this term with 2 winners from 7 rides.

“It’s early days and all about opportunities and confidence. As an apprentice, you take what you can get in a quest to build your name and reputation. Some of us get luckier than others, but it’s not a one day game. I’m working hard on improving my riding and communication skills.”

Jabu says that he looks back at his interviews of a few years ago and is pleased with his own all-round progress.

He rode his first winner for the Sabine Plattner Racing Team on Winter’s Coming, who finished with a flourish to grab a late victory at Hollywoodbets Greyville on 30 October 2018. It was his 29th career ride and was the start of a long haul to better things.

“I owe many thanks to Serino Moodley, who helped me a lot early on. Mr Byron Foster and Mr Peter Muscutt also gave me many chances.”

Garth Puller says that Jabu’s early place strike-rate of 25% underlined the fact that he had not had all the luck early on.

Jabu is led in on his first winner, Winter’s Coming (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

He also affirmed the opportunity and confidence references.

“He had gone close a good few times for me early. They say you make your own luck but had those been winners, he would have been up and running quickly and we’d all be saying he was doing well. I think he just needed a little bit of time and experience – it’s easy to be intimidated and overwhelmed in this game. It’s all a see-saw, too. You win a few – you are in demand and then suddenly you are popular and you use your claim well. Then the pendulum swings as you move down the claim – and the other 4kg claimers are then showing their hands. At the end of the day, it’s a career that tests character and, believe me, talent and genuine commitment will always come out tops. Jabu has the attitude to go all the way. That’s what counts before anything.”

On a personal note, Jabu tells us that he is looking forward to buying his first car at the end of this month, when coming out of his time. We asked him if it would be something on the lines of a Golf GTI or an 1100 cc suburban runabout?

“Nothing loud or fancy for me. I just need a basic car that gets me from A to B,” he says in response to our suggestion that big sound or mag wheels may be influencing his choice of vehicle.

We asked about a partner or fan in his life.

“There is no time for girlfriends at this stage of my career. I am focussed on my professional life. And my only fan club is my family!”

He says that he is good friends with his colleagues Mfanelo Zuma and Wiseman Njokwe and will miss the camaraderie and the memorable times at the SA Jockey Academy.

“I am so fortunate to have enjoyed the opportunities that I have been given in an exciting industry. I am also fortunate to have a top sponsor in Winning Form and am very thankful to them for investing and believing in me. It’s now up to me to make a success of my career.”

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