Muzi Yeni is becoming a real crowd favourite due to his friendly personality and his killer instinct as a jockey. His friendly smile belies the fierce determination he has to be a top jockey and he never stops trying on a horse with a chance. Having recently won his first Grade 1 race on Happy Landing Muzi is more determined than ever to make it to the very top of the jockey championship. Winning Form is proud to be the sponsor of this lovely young man and wish him and his wife to be, Kim, all the best in their marriage and in his career.
What is your name and age? Muziwandile Andile Yeni and I am 25 years old.
Where do you live? Kloof.
Tell us about your family? I was brought up by my Gran-both my parents are late.
Where did you go to school? Pine Town Junior and Hunt Road Secondary.
Are any of your family members involved in racing or particularly interested in racing? None of my family are involved in racing.
As a successful young black jockey has this stimulated interest in racing amongst the black community? Yes people think it is a fabulous easy job. They do not realize it takes lots of hard work, dedication and most of your spare time!
How did you originally get into racing? My Dad read about it in the newspaper and from there I applied and was accepted into the academy.
You have now been Colin Scott’s stable jockey for a number of years. Are things panning out as you had originally hoped they would? Yes the stable is ticking over and has opened lots of doors for me. It has also helped me keep my results consistent.
Which do you consider to be the best horse in the yard right now? It would be hard to say as we have lots of good young unraced horses.
Which of his horses do you feel could make an impact during the KZN winter season? Sage Throne, Dance With Mikey and Fourth Estate could improve this season.
As a jockey who gets around to ride in many places which horse would you, at this early stage, ear mark to win the July? I would consider English Garden, Happy Landing and The Apache.
Which trainers did you ride for and who do you have the most success for? I am successful with Colin Scott, Mike de Kock, Grant Paddock and Gavin Smith.
Your win on Happy Landing in the Champion Challenge seemed to be an emotional event for all concerned. Tell us about your part in that great win and what made it so emotional? It was my first Grade 1 win and it was on a horse least expected to win.
You ride in Gauteng, KZN and Port Elizabeth. What are the main differences when riding in these centres or are there not really such marked differences? Gauteng could be more competitive because of bigger stakes but for the rest there is not really much of a difference.
Of all the tracks to ride on which do you like best? I like the tracks with longer run ins such as Turffontein and Clairwood.
Since your early days as a jockey it is well known that you have great regard and a genuine affection for Mike de Kock. Recently you are getting more rides from him. Are you taking time to ride more work for him or are you just ‘getting lucky’? Mr Nathan Kotzen got me into the MDK yard and supported me very well. I try to work as hard as I can for the yard and other trainers I ride for.
Is there any chance that you might ride a horse that suits you for Mike in Dubai? If I get a really good horse that I get along with I am sure Mike will give me a chance in Dubai.
At this early stage have you any idea of which horse you might ride in this year’s July? Happy Landing, Captain’s Wild and Seal are possibles.
You have been with your long time girlfriend, do you have any marriage plans? Yes we do. Planning is in progress as we speak.
How keen is Kim on racing or does she like to stay in the background? She likes staying in the background but she knows what is happening.
Which of the jockeys are your special friends? Smanga Khumalo and Eldin Webber.
Over the past couple of months you have really come to the fore and you are riding lots of winners. Are you putting a lot more effort into your job or do you think that it is that you are now getting more experienced and for that reason might be getting better rides? I am putting in a lot more effort and the experience is coming in handy as well.
What is your normal riding mass? 49kg.
How easy is it to maintain your ideal riding mass? It is a walk in the park. I don’t have any mass problems.
How difficult is it for you to ride work in the morning and, at the same time, to travel to PE and Gauteng to ride in meetings? It is all part of my life so I take it as it comes.
What is it about being a jockey that gives you the most pleasure? I don’t look at it as a job. It is a lifestyle and I am used to it.
Do you have any ambition to ride overseas? Yes I would like to ride in Singapore or Hong Kong.
Do you have many friends outside of racing circles? Yes most of my friends are outside of racing.
Do you advise any friends or family to back a horse you ride when you feel you have an outstanding win chance? Yes I do tell my family so that they can have a chance to make extra money.
How do you like to celebrate a big win? I like to go for a few drinks with friends and family and then go to my home for a braai.
Who are the people in racing who have had the biggest influence on you in your racing career to date? Nathan Kotzen has been very kind to me and has had a big influence on me.
Which do you consider to be the best horse you seen in your career? Ipi Thombi was fantastic.
Which do you consider to be the best horse you have won on thus far? Happy Landing because he won me my first Grade 1.
At this stage of your career what are your main ambitions? To win the championship; build up my CV and then to take on the world.
What is it about racing that makes you passionate about the game? Tactical race riding, being competitive and winning races.
Which are your favourite stallions? Galileo, Jet Master and Dynasty.
If you have to name the most important lesson you have learnt about racing thus far what would you say that is? No one is bigger than the game.
How do you like to spend your free time? Being at home with family watching movies and going out with friends.
Apart from racing what else are you passionate about? I love watching and following soccer.
How much time do you spend studying form? I study form every chance I get.
The control of racing is now very strict. Is there anything more, in your opinion, that you think the authorities could or should do to make racing even straighter? The technology in place is good enough.
What is your philosophy on the racing game? Work hard-practice-the more I practice the luckier I get!
You are sponsored by Winning Form. How important is this sponsorship to you and does it make your life as a jockey much easier to handle? It would not be possible to travel the way I do without sponsorship so they play a very big part in my career.
If you had one piece of advice for your fellow associates in the racing world what would it be? Hard work never killed anyone!