A son of a trainer, and brother-in-law to one of our exported jockey talents, established family connections to horseracing, coupled with the fact that he has already competed in Workrider races, has meant that 18 year old Trent Mayhew has adjusted seamlessly to the rigours of life at the SA Jockey Academy.
The Sporting Post bumped into the polite Vereeniging-born horseman on a visit to Summerveld recently, and we couldn’t help but be impressed with his maturity and confident disposition.
Just as the likes of Lyle Hewitson and Calvin Habib graduated through the Workrider ranks, Trent Mayhew presents a living example of the ‘for’ debate – that of the alternative school of thinking that suggests rather allowing prospective jockeys to make career choices when they are mature and older to do so.
Arriving at the academy in January 2023, Trent says that getting up at sparrow and mucking out stables was not new to him. After all, his Dad Craig has been training racehorses for many years, sister Kelsey Mayhew-Munger has beaten the males in the Workrider ranks, and his brother-in-law Ryan is setting Woodbine racecourse alight since moving to Canada earlier this year.
“I have been fortunate to have learnt to ride and grew up in a horsey family. I started riding in Workrider races in June 2021. And even though I am subject to all of the first year routines, it’s probably easier handling things as a more mature individual who understands horses and racing a bit more than my younger counterparts.”
Trainer Garth Puller has been a source of support and guidance to a host of apprentices over the years, and besides a bit of professional ribbing and leg-pulling, tells us that the young Mayhew ‘shows promise’.
It’s early days – Trent is still in the qualifying phase and has only had four professional rides under rules, his first on Canford Ice for Robbie Hill at Hollywoodbets Scottsville on 17 June.
We asked the Sasolburg High graduate to give us an insight into the difference between the Workriders and the handful of professional races that he has ridden in.
“I’d say the tempo is markedly different. One can just feel that the intensity is greater. That’s not to say that there aren’t some top-class riders in the amateur ranks,” he adds thoughtfully.
Trent’s girlfriend lives in Johannesburg, but he says he personally enjoys the vibe and friendliness in Durban.
“I chase the work in the mornings at Summerveld. The trainers are really friendly and kind. It’s a good vibe and atmosphere. I have been given some good advice and guidance by Mr Garth Puller, Mr Robbie Hill and Mr Michael Roberts – coincidentally all gentlemen who ran from ring to ring in their own time as young apprentices! And then I must mention Mr and Mrs Fortune at the Vaal – they did so much to encourage and motivate me.”
Trent tells us that he is friends with ‘everybody’ at the academy, but has leaned on brother-in-law Ryan Munger, Calvin Habib and Kyle Strydom for riding advice and critical feedback.
He is quite tall, although he points out none more so than Rachel Venniker, for example.
“I weigh 53,5kgs and am claiming 4kgs. I have been fortunate to get some nice rides at the top of the scale. My first goal now is to break the ice and ride my first winner . Then in the new season it will be to ride out my claim and achieve a top 5 finish on the apprentice log.”
We asked about reigning champion apprentice Rachel Venniker.
“Rachel is made of steel and doesn’t have to stand down for any of the guys. She’s tough and top-class. I have such admiration for her breaking through in what is a male dominated hard-knocking profession.”
When taxed about his personal lifestyle and eating habits, Trent says that he is on a low-carb diet and ‘can’t go mad on burgers and beers’!
“I have never been a big eater, so it’s no major stress really. I enjoy a bit of soccer and gym to keep in shape and stay active.”
And what does he do to for fun?
“I’m not a party animal – the academy is strict and you can’t party and then expect to wake up at 4am to work! I enjoy a bit of hip hop and rap music. The likes of Eminem, for example,” he smiles.
And a nickname? “No nothing yet!” We suggested Eminem or the Slim Shady. He laughs!
Asked about his career ambitions, Trent says he is determined to keep his feet on the ground and build the blocks of his career properly.
“Championship titles and international racing opportunities are on most of our professional bucket-lists. But that’s for the future. Right now I have plenty to learn and absorb from so many experienced folk around me. I’m so fortunate to have this opportunity!”