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Robbie Fradd

Robbie Fradd

Robbie Fradd

Durban-born professional jockey ROBBIE FRADD (49) has been in the saddle for more than three decades and has enjoyed a distinguished career, both locally and abroad. He has twice been victorious in South Africa’s most prestigious race, the Durban July, and he captured Japan’s biggest mile race and the Hong Kong Derby at the turn of the millennium. He has enjoyed good success since returning to the local shores in 2011. The globetrotting Fradd is embarking on the final stages of his illustrious career and he is on the verge of securing a deal to ride in Australia. However, until then, there is the small matter of defending his Grade 2 Gauteng Guineas title this Saturday, with another Woodruff inmate, in the form of LOUIS THE KING. Robbie is closing in on a half-century of winners for the season and currently lies just outside the Top 10 on the National Jockey’s Log. He has earmarked a few horses that could be worth following during the season and judging by his previous record, it could prove profitable to afford them particular attention. We wish Robbie Fradd all the best for this upcoming weekend and in his future endeavours.

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What is your name?  Robert Desmond Fradd.

What is your star sign and birthdate?  Sagittarius and I was born on 4 December 1964. 

Where were you born and where did you grow up?  I was born and raised in Durban, South Africa.

Where do you live? I currently live in Johannesburg.

Tell us about your family?  I am married to Natalie. I have two step daughters and two daughters of my own.

Do you have a ‘nickname’? ‘Bob’. I have no idea why people call me that but I don’t question it.

Favourite food?  Pizza.

Favourite drink?  Coca Cola.

Favourite music?  I like the 80’s music.

Favourite sport?  Golf.

Favourite soccer team?  Chelsea.

Favourite holiday destination?  Kruger National Park, because it is so relaxing.

Favourite racecourse in South Africa?  Turffontein.

Favourite overseas racecourse? Sha Tin in Hong Kong. It is a thinking track, very fast and you have to ride a perfect race.

Mention some of your hobbies? I don’t have many but I try to play golf as much as possible.

Which characteristic about yourself do you like the most?  I say it as I see it.

Is there anything the public don’t know about Robbie Fradd that they would be interested to know?  What you see is what you get; I am no different out of racing.

Who is the one person that you would love to meet and why?  Tiger Woods. He is definitely the best golfer I have seen in my life and it will probably stay that way.

Where did you go to school and what qualification did you achieve? I received my matric. I attended Brettonwood High School before going to the South African Jockey Academy in Durban.

Who influenced you to become a jockey?  It was my own choice, no one really influenced me. During most of my life pre-academy days, I used to go to farms and ride horses.

In which year did you begin your apprenticeship, where were you based and who were your fellow apprentices at the academy?  I began my apprenticeship in 1981 and I was based at the Jockey Academy in Durban. My fellow apprentices were Glen Hatt, Piere Strydom, Nick Shearer and Hemant Ramlugaan.

Which senior people in racing had a major influence on you early on in your career? Vaughan Marshall was a big influence early on in my career as I was his stable jockey.

You have enjoyed an illustrious career in horseracing. Let’s discuss your excellent achievements.

Your first winner; where, for whom and when was it?  It was in 1982 aboard Barberton for the late Jacky Gorton at Clairwood. 

Total number of feature race wins? I have had numerous feature race wins, including Group 1 wins but unfortunately I didn’t keep count of them. I have been blessed with a gift and through my hard work and determination; I have managed to achieve many of my lifelong ambitions.

Best finishing position on National Jockey’s Log? 3rd.

Have you won any Provincial Jockey’s Titles? Yes, I have won the KZN jockey’s title.

How many July’s, Met’s and Summer Cups have you won? Firstly, I have won 2 July’s (In 1994 with Space Walk for Ricky Maingard after an objection and then in 2003 with the great Dynasty for Dean Kannemeyer). I won the J & B Met once with Vaughan Marshall’s La Fabulous in 1996. I am yet to win the Summer Cup but I have gone close on a few occasions, the latest being aboard Master Sabina for Geoff Woodruff – the stablemate Yorker beat me by a neck.

Mention some of the highlights of your distinguished career? I was successful overseas. Some of my big highlights were winning Japan’s biggest mile race the Yasuda Kinen in 2000 with the great Fairy King Prawn. I also won the Hong Kong Derby the same year with Keen Winner for Tony Millard. Another highlight for me was winning the Darwin Cup on Shout Out Loud in Australia.

Which is your favourite Grade 1 race to ride in, both locally and abroad? I would have to go with the Hong Kong Derby. I really want to ride in the Melbourne Cup.

Mention the different countries you have ridden in?  South Africa, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Japan, Canada, Mauritius and Zimbabwe.

Best racehorse you have seen in your life, either in the flesh or on the television? In the flesh I would have to say Sunline from New Zealand, she won 32 races from 48 starts. On the television, Frankel was the best.

Most competitive jockeys you have ridden against? Weichong Marwing and Felix Coetzee.

Best friend you have made within horseracing?  I would say Weichong Marwing. He is more like family to me than a friend. Tyrone Smith, who is an owner, is also a very good friend of mine.

What has been your funniest moment in the saddle?  I was once in a rush in the parade ring and I got onto the wrong horse. Luckily, not many people saw it but it was extremely funny.

Best advice you have received about this wonderful sport, from whom did it come and more importantly, what was it? I have received the usual advice to help me get further in this game. Keeping a level head is always important and my good friend Tyrone Smith always tells me to keep working hard.

Most famous racing personalities that you have met? I have met Lester Piggott and Frankie Dettori.

Did you meet the late great Sir Henry Cecil? No, unfortunately I didn’t.

When did you return to South Africa and what made you chose Gauteng as your home province?  I returned to South Africa in 2011. I was firstly based in KZN but then Sean Tarry offered me the job to ride for him in Gauteng. Since then, I have stayed here because they race often and it is a good place to race.

There were recently rumours doing the rounds that Robbie Fradd was heading for Australia. Is there any truth in this? Yes, it is true. It is not a matter of if, but rather when. I will make a final decision within the next 2 weeks.

You have been a professional jockey for almost three decades, yet you still have a great desire to win. This is clearly evident from your mood after you get beaten a short head into 2nd. Tell us about your passion and determination to be successful? To be honest I would rather finish 3rd than a short head 2nd, purely because I then feel that I could’ve done more to get up and win. I have a huge determination and passion to win. That is part of my character as is evident when I finish 2nd.

 

Do you have an agent? No.

 

Do you still set yourself targets at the beginning of a season?  Yes, I do in terms of what feature races I haven’t won. I like to see which horses will get me those wins. 

 

What are your short-term ambitions? Just to do the best I can and try an end off my career in the best way possible. I think I have 4 years, at most, of my career left.

Have you heard the news that legendary jockey Felix Coetzee has retired from the saddle? Yes, I have.

You and Felix rode against each other, both locally and overseas. What memories of the great man comes to mind? You always have to make sure you on a horse slightly better than his because he was so competitive and determined to win. I had to make sure I was strong when I was competing against him. I wish Felix all the best in his retirement!

Have you harboured any thoughts of training one day?  Yes, I have. However, training is not easy and I admire those that have succeeded at it. It is not just common knowledge; there is also a lot of scientific knowledge involved e.g. when a virus hits your yard, you need to know exactly how to handle the situation.

This Saturday is Guineas Day at Turffontein and you would have fond memories of this day as you captured the main event for trainer Geoff Woodruff, last year. Are you the stable’s number 1 jockey? I wouldn’t say that I am stable jockey for Geoff. He gives me first choice but doesn’t hold me down to any specific decision.

Which of the yard’s runners are you likely to partner in the Grade 2 Gauteng Guineas? Tell us about him and can we expect you to complete a double in this contest?  I am riding LOUIS THE KING. I am hoping that I can complete the double. He is a very decent horse but the drop to the mile is a slight concern. He is looking for 2000m but in saying that, he is classy.

You climb aboard the Geoff Woodruff trained ARCETRI PINK in the female version of the Guineas. Tell us about her?  She is a little filly but has a huge heart. Her pedigree suggests that she should be suited to the mile but I need to get her to settle. If I can get her into a nice position in the race, then I make her a big runner.

Have you been riding her in work and how has her preparation gone?  Yes I have. She put up a good gallop last week and is doing very well. Geoff will have her spot on for the race.

What do you think her optimum trip will be? I think her maximum distance will be 1600m.

ZEPHIRA is improving with every start and looks a top quality stayer in the making. She is a likely contender for the Oaks. Tell us about the Woodruff inmate’s ability and her temperament?  She is going to win Group races. She settles well in the first half of the race and when I want her to work she just does everything I want her to do. She is a very good horse.

How highly does the yard rate her?  They rate her quite highly and the penny is just starting to drop.

Which other horses from the Woodruff yard are worth following?  Louis The King, Tee Jay Ar ran a good race last time and there is certainly more to come from him. Ignore Rake’s Chestnut’s last run, he is better than that. I still feel we haven’t seen the best of Master Sabina. Yorker must also be followed as he ran a very good race in the J&B Met.

You have also teamed up well with the Gary Alexander yard in Gauteng and had a good association with their highly rated Jallad gelding, MEISSA. He has his issues but there isn’t any doubting his ability. Tell us about him?  He has loads of ability but does have problems. I actually feel sorry for Gary because he has a nice horse but he has to take it 1 race at a time. If Gary can get him right then I think we will see a really good racehorse.

Could he be an early prospect for the President’s Champions Challenge at the end of April?  If his problems are sorted out and he is well, then I do think so.

Does the Gary Alexander stable have any younger horses that you feel the public should keep an eye on?  I think Coby and Mr Mulliner will do well. Also, when Flight Warning goes 2000m and beyond, then we will see a good horse.

The KZN Winter Season is just around the corner. Will you be travelling down during the season?  If I am in South Africa, then I will be travelling up and down.

If you were pushed for an answer, right now, which horse in South Africa would you choose to ride in the Vodacom Durban July? Yorker ran a very good race in the J&B Met. He has run against the best and if I had to choose a horse right now, then it will have to be him.

Mention a few young jockeys coming through the ranks that have caught your eye?  Wesley Marwing is still young and when he gets the opportunities, he takes it with both hands. Also, Julius Mariba, Keagan de Melo, Franklin Maleking and Nooresh Jugall will hold their own.

Do you have a sponsor and how important do you think it is for jockeys to be sponsored?  I am currently not sponsored and I don’t think it is that important to have a sponsor.

What is your preferred way to celebrate a big win? I like to go home and spend time with family and friends.

What advice can you offer to youngsters who wish to become a successful jockey?  The main thing is to keep a level head, respect a lot of people and always work hard. Also, try to go overseas to gain more experience.

From your many years spent overseas, what important lessons have you learnt? I came back a better rider. I was competing against different jockeys who were the best from their respective countries. I also learnt the different ways of racing.

You handle the local media with aplomb. Is it fair to say that you developed handling media whilst overseas? Yes. It plays a big part in racing overseas because as you walk out of the jockey room all the media are there waiting for interviews. It is part of the racing routine overseas.

What changes would you like to see happen in South African horseracing?  There are a few departments that need to change. For example the marketing of the sport. Horseracing needs more coverage in South Africa i.e. beyond channel 239 on DSTV. The advertising for the Vodacom Durban July and the J&B Met is very good but the Summer Cup can get more exposure.  

Does the old maxim, “Behind every successful man is an equally successful woman,” apply to Robbie Fradd?  Yes, definitely. Natalie pushes me all the time which is good for me and it is very important. When I am going through a hard time she encourages me and lifts me up and for that I am eternally grateful to her.

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