Home » Profiles » Robert Khathi

Robert Khathi

Robert Khathi

Robert Khathi

29-year old Cape Town-based jockey ROBERT KHATHI has firmly established himself into the sport of horseracing through sheer hard work and determination.  The likeable Khathi was one of a select few to have been chosen to join the South African Jockey Academy, from his Umlazi High School in KZN at the tender age of 16. He was associated with the game’s greats such as Dynasty and Pocket Power during his apprenticeship and that certainly enhanced his appetite for the sport. Whilst he free-lances successfully in the ‘mother city’, he has enjoyed good support from trainer Corne’ Spies and now Renate du Plessis in Port Elizabeth. Robert has won four listed races in his career and his short-term ambition is to crack that, thus far, elusive Grade 1 victory. He partners the three-year old SEA CAT in this Saturday’s Grade 3 Two Oceans Racing Prix Du Cap at Kenilworth and we wish him well with his ride. 


What is your name? Simukeliswa (Robert) Khathi.

What is your star sign and birthdate? Sagittarius and I was born on 7 December 1984.

Where were you born? Umlazi, KZN.

Where do you live? Cape Town.

Tell us about your family? I am one of 4 children. My mom and two sisters stay in Durban. My dad passed away at a young age and I was raised by my mom. My brother lives in Port Elizabeth and is also a jockey. My soon to be wife is Simone Jacobs and we have 3 beautiful boys. Our second eldest passed away almost 2 years ago.

Do you have a ‘nickname’? Yes. My partner calls me ‘Mort’.

Favourite food? My favourite dish is chicken curry with potato salad.

Favourite drink? Passion fruit and lemonade.

Favourite music? Hip Hop and RnB.

Favourite sport? Soccer.

Who is your favourite author? Fotoform (Computaform).

What book are you reading at the moment? Sporting Post and Computaform.

Which is the characteristic about yourself that you like most? I am an easy going person.

Are you interested in soccer and, if so, which is your favourite soccer team? I love soccer. My favourite teams are Barcelona and Chelsea.

Favourite holiday destination? I don’t have one but I would love to go to Zanzibar.

Where did you go to school? Kwamgaga, Umlazi High School and SAJA.

What tertiary education did you attain? None.

Were any of your family ever involved in racing or horses while you were growing up? No, we were not.

How did your interest in becoming a jockey come about? I never knew anything about being a jockey but Mr. Sbisi came to our school and he picked us. We were the right height and weight and that qualified us to become jockeys.

What did you do on completion of your schooling? I became a jockey.

How old were you when you applied to go to the academy? I was 16 years old.

Who assisted you in your application? Mr. Sbisi assisted me.

At that time it was still a new thing for young black kids to become jockeys. What did your family and friends think about your decision? My mom was happy but a bit nervous as she was not sure that there was a future for a young black man as a jockey. She wanted what was best for us and she wanted a better life/future for us.

How easy or difficult was it for you to fit into the lifestyle at the academy? It was a bit of both. However, what made it a little easier was the fact that there were other black jockeys in the academy that we could speak to.

Who were your fellow apprentices at the time? Christopher Puller, Chase Maujean, Sandile Khathi, S’manga Khumalo, Sihle Cele, Randall Simons and Sean Veale.

Which of them were your special friends? Everyone – we were all close.

How long was it before you rode in your first race? I had my first ride in my 2nd year.

Tell us about your first winner? It was on Teeny Bopper for the late Mr. Cyril Naidoo. I was very excited and over the moon. The feeling when I passed the winning post in front was amazing and something that will live forever in my memory.

As an apprentice which trainers gave you the most support? Mike Bass, Dean Kannemeyer and Piet Steyn.

Tell us about some of the better horses you were involved with as an apprentice? I have ridden a lot of good horses in the morning. The likes of Dynasty and many more. I only had the privilege to ride the great Pocket Power on debut.

Which was the first feature race you won and what horse did you win it with? It was the Durbanville Cup on Let’s Be Cool.

You have ridden good horses but which do you consider to be outstanding? Pocket Power.

You have had good success in Port Elizabeth. Tell us about the trainers who you have ridden for in Port Elizabeth? I have ridden for Duncan McKenzie, Corne’ Spies (Renate du Plessis) and Mike Bass (Gavin Blake). They have small stables but they are very good trainers who get good results.

What was the biggest race you won in Port Elizabeth? The East Cape Paddock Stakes on a horse called Crimson’s Tag for trainer Hekkie Strydom. She was a game mare that ended up winning 14 races.

What do you make of the polytrack in Port Elizabeth? It is a great innovation and has changed racing in the province and the country as a whole. It offers an alternative surface to race horses on and more importantly racemeetings are not lost to poor weather. The polytrack saved PE’s biggest racemeeting i.e. the Algoa Cup just last October.

You are now well settled in Cape Town and receive support from the Mike Bass yard. Tell us about some of the exciting horses you ride for the stable? Strangely enough, I don’t get to ride them in races, which is a shame. I only ride them at track. I consider Helderberg Blue and Top Jet to be very good horses but there are many more, of course.

How often do you ride work for the Bass yard? I usually ride work for Mr. Bass 4 times a week.

Which are some of the horses you are now involved with, that you think will make an impact on the Cape winter season and the KZN champions season? Unfortunately, I am not involved with many of the top horses but will keep working at it and I am sure that, in time, I will get better quality rides.

There are a whole host of talented young horses racing in the Cape right now. Which of them would you say will be profitable to follow? Captain America, In The Fast Lane and Elusive Gold who has recently moved to Hong Kong.

How many Grade 1 races have you won? None as yet but to be fair I haven’t had many opportunities.

How many and which feature races have you won? I have won 4 listed races. The East Cape Paddock Stakes, Ladies Mile, Durbanville Cup and the Sophomore Sprint. I went very close on a pick-up ride Night Trip in the Magnum Mile at Kenilworth last Saturday. We got within a short head of beating the top class King Of Pain in that Non-Black Type contest.

What is your most comfortable riding mass? 53kg’s.

How easy is it for you to maintain that weight? It is relatively easy as I have a healthy, balanced diet and I exercise regularly. You need plenty of discipline to be successful at the highest level and thankfully I have lots of that.

What would you say is the race you most want to win in the near future? I want to win a Group 1 to get me started on winning big races.

What is the total number of winners you have ridden? I have ridden over 200 winners.

What horse do you rate as the best you have won to date? Crimson’s Tag.

Do you do anything apart from riding work and racing to maintain peak fitness? Yes, I play indoor soccer once a week and go to gym about 4 times a week.

Did S’manga Khumalo’s win in the July, on Heavy Metal, cause much interest amongst your friends and inspire you to follow in his footsteps? Yes, it did. It is a great encouragement to African jockeys to work harder and to know that we can also scale the heights and win the top races.

You are a professional jockey and make your living by it but what else keeps you passionate about being a jockey? The chase – I love the competition.

Has your success as a jockey inspired any of your friends or family to become involved in horseracing? Yes, it has.

Which of the current South African stallions really excite you? The late great Jet Master.

Do you ever have a bet on a horse or is your enjoyment limited to riding the winners? My interest is limited to riding winners. It is a truly great feeling passing the post in front, with the balance trailing in.

What short/long term ambitions do you have for yourself? I would love to travel/ride in another country and win a Group race.

Who would you say are the people who have had the most influence on you in your racing career? I would have to say trainer Andries Steyn. He only had a few horses but he always gave me opportunities and was very loyal. I thank him whole-heartedly for everything he has done to assist me.

‹ Previous

Akash Aucharuz

Akash Aucharuz

Next ›

Robbie Fradd

Robbie Fradd

Recent Profiles

Dawn Newman – A Household Name

Ticking all the boxes

Sean Veale Rides Under SP Banner

Welcome to the team

Chad Set For Singapore

Fifth one-day visit at Kranji

A Champion Milestone

Has a chance longshot ride in the Woolavington

Passionate Owner Supports Good Cause

It costs so little to do plenty of good

Aidan O’Brien Earns Top Accolade

Hall Of Fame inductee

Getting Back Into The Saddle

Redemption after the return

Fanie’s Pure Winning Pleasure

Former Tukkies rugby star is living the dream

Wright Signs For Ridgemont

Happy and content in the Cape

Kaidan’s On The Up!

Dad Andrew is his Agent - so it's quite a team!

Will We See A R10 Million Ticket At Nationals?

Kuda CEO talks about sales prospects next week

Snaith Machine Kicks Into Top Gear

Snaith Racing - big plans over the next four months

It’s A Real Equestrian Affair!

Whistling on her way to work!

Join The Zac Attack!

Second Hong Kong Derby success

High Five For Rising Star Kelly!

From a quiet start in 2022, to a third place on the log

From ‘Zama-Zama’ to Gr1 Owner

Stinky Pooe's Inspiring Story