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Menno Malherbe

Menno Malherbe

Menno Malherbe

Only a handful of workriders have made a successful transition from workrider to jockey. MENNO MALHERBE is one of them, but he had to wait until he was 26 years old before he could start his apprenticeship. Fortunately, for him, his father was friendly with Mike Nunes who suggested that Menno try to be a jockey. When riding work for Geoff Woodruff it was he who suggested Menno apply to get into the special apprentices program. The two jockeys he follows, and tries to emulate, are Piere Strydom and Anton Marcus. If he manages to absorb much of what they do he will go a long way to achieving big things as a jockey. Fortunately for Menno he can ride at 50kg’s which gives him every chance of riding top horses with light masses. Menno has impressed many with his professional and dedicated approach to his riding and he should be very interesting, and profitable, to follow. WINNING FORM wishes him well and will be following his career closely.  

 What is your name and age? Menno Malherbe and I am 35 years old.

What is your star sign and birthdate? I am a Cancerian and my birthdate is 30/06/1977.

Where were you born? Pretoria.

Where do you live? I live in Vanderbijl Park.

Tell us about your family? My parents and younger brother live in Polokwane. My father is retired but has a small bakery and my mother is a receptionist for a doctor. My brother is in the IT business.

Do you have a ‘nickname’? My friends called me “shorty” in school.

Favourite food? I enjoy braaivleis a lot.

Favourite drink? Hunters Gold or Klipdrift Premium.

Favourite music? I enjoy most music.

Favourite sport? Horseracing and golf.

Favourite holiday destination? I love spending time in Mozambique. I have had some fantastic diving holidays there.

Where did you grow up? I grew up in Polokwane (then Pietersburg).

Where did you go to school? I went to Oos Skool Primere and matriculated at Pietersburg High.

What did you do after you finished school? I worked in a hardware store for about 2 years.

Were any of your family involved in or particularly interested in racing? No. I don’t come from a racing family.

Does your family follow your career closely and come to race meetings to watch you ride? Yes they all do, especially my grandfather who has followed my career since I started riding in the workrider races. I also have my fiancé and her family who support me.

How did you become interested in horseracing? I met Mike Nunes through my father, and he suggested that I should become a jockey.

Who is the person who was responsible for getting you to apply to get into the special apprentice program? Geoff Woodruff and I wish to thank him whole-heartedly.

How old were you when you started the program? I was 26.

Was it always your ambition to become a jockey? Not really, but I always had an attraction to horses.

You came through the special apprentices program. Tell us what that entailed and in what way was it different from the normal apprentice program? In most ways it was the same. I had to be an apprentice for 5 years. What was different for me was that I didn’t stay in the academy because I was much older than the normal apprentice. Because I rode in the workriders races and had more experience than most apprentices I could only claim 1.5kgs. So, in some ways, it was different for me but I was just pleased that I was granted an apprentice licence.

While you were a workrider did you do any other work at the stables during the day? When I was apprenticed to Geoff Woodruff I worked in the yard in the afternoon.

You have ridden many horses for Stanley Ferreira. Apart from Stanley which other trainers took a keen interest in your career? Before I started riding for Stanley who, by the way, is a fantastic guy to ride for, I got most  of my support from Coenie De Beer, Bertie vd Merwe, Phillip Smith in Kimberley, and Louis Goosen.

When did you ride in your first race as a workrider? I cannot remember the exact date but I started riding in races in 2002.

Which horse did you ride and how well did you do?  The horse was Aladdins Flame and he ran third.

What was expected of you before you could take part against fully-fledged jockeys? I had to prove that I was capable enough to receive an apprentice licence.

What did you have to achieve to get an apprentice licence? I had to go through the workriders programme, which consisted of basic and advanced courses, and had to ride in races for a few years. I had to do well enough to be able to apply for my apprentice licence.

When did you get your jockey’s licence? I received my licence in 2010.

When did you win your first race as an apprentice? It was on a horse called Doblecito and the date was 20/10/2005.

Which horse did you win your first ever race on? I won my first ever race on a filly called Foxy Miss for Geoff Woodruff at the Vaal racecourse.

Would it be true to say that winning that first time was one of the most exciting moments of your life? Most definitely.  It was a huge adrenaline rush.

How did you celebrate that win? We just had a few beers at the stables.

What is your natural riding mass? I can ride any weight from 50kgs.

How easy is it for you to maintain your mass? I have no problem with my weight. I never have to sweat or diet to make the weight.

Name some of the horses that you ride in work which you think will do well in the near future? I think the filly Cat’s Game, who ran second in her first three starts, will do well this season. She has matured into a nice filly and will be competitive over a bit further. Some others will be Three Nations, Eastern Greeting, Spring Blaster and Cosmogenic who I rate well above average.

Which do you consider to be the best horse you have won on thus far? I can’t narrow it down to one horse so I would have to say Three Nations who won her first two starts and looks like a promising sprinter. Eastern Greeting, who won impressively first time out. Kalaam, who I ran second on to Welwitschia in a Grade 2 and who I’m sure will win a graded race soon, Cosmogenic who ran second in her first two races, and won her next two starts, and Spring Blaster.

How many races have you won? I don’t have an exact number for you but I’m hoping to add many more to that statistic this season.

Which major feature races have you ridden in?  I haven’t yet but am working very hard towards it.

How many graded winners have you had or been placed on? I still have to ride a graded winner but I am very confident of riding a few this season.

Mention some of the better horses you have ridden in work or in races which should be followed? I think you should definitely follow Three Nations, Eastern Greeting, Cosmogenic, Spring Blaster and Cat’s Game.

What would you say has been your most memorable day in racing? I would have to say the day I rode two winners on the first workriders racemeeting at Turffontein. It was a very special day for me because my parents were there to share that memorable day with me. I will never forget it.

Who would you say are the jockeys who impress you the most and who have a big influence on you as a jockey? I would have to say Piere and Anton. I always watch them closely and try to learn as much as I can from them.

Do you ever advise any of your friends or relatives to have a punt on a horse you are riding   which you think has a really big winning chance? I would let my dad know so that he can have his 100 bucks on.

How interested in the breeding side of racing are you? I am a bit but must admit that I am not too clued up about it.

Have you visited many stud farms in your career? I haven’t been to any yet but I would like to.


Which of the current stallions really impress you? I think Trippi and Silvano look to be very promising stallions.

Your passion in life is obviously racing but do you have any other passions in life? I am a sports fanatic.

You were brought into racing through a golfing man. Do you play golf? I love golf and would  play every day if I could.

Do you have a sponsor and how important do you think it is for a jockey to be sponsored? Unfortunately, I don’t have one yet. I think in most aspects it is very important.

From your experience thus far would you say that racing is ‘straight’? I think it is straight. I certainly give 100% when I’m riding.

Have you any ideas as to how to get the crowds back onto the racetracks on normal race days? I wish I could help but I don’t know. Maybe try and target the younger generation to get them out to the races and show them that horseracing can be just as exciting as any other sport.

What is your opinion on the NHA’s decision to stop betting operators from sponsoring trainers? In my humble opinion I think they shouldn’t stop the sponsors. The horses get neat light sheets in the winner’s enclosure and the grooms receive branded overalls that look professional in the parade ring.

The saying is: “Behind every successful man is an equally successful woman.” Does this apply to Menno Malherbe? Yes it does. I am engaged to a lovely woman, Chantel. She is my biggest supporter and is always there for me. It makes my job so much easier especially on the days when things don’t go too well. She is a qualified hairdresser and is planning to open a hair and beauty salon in the near future.

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