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Sean Cormack

Sean Cormack

Sean Cormack

Zimbabwean born SEAN CORMACK (42) has had a relatively slow start to his life as a professional jockey but is rapidly making up for lost time. He makes particular mention of trainer Paul Lafferty who stuck by him through trying times earlier on in his career. Sean served his apprenticeship alongside some of South Africa’s top jockeys in Anton Marcus, Anthony Delpech, Weichong Marwing and Johnny Geroudis and since his return from a stint in Hong Kong, he has proved that he is right up there with the best of them. He is stable jockey to the powerful Dennis Drier yard in KZN and has taken the opportunities presented to him by the Cape trainer’s during their season and currently lies in 4th position on the South African Jockey’s Log. He recently recorded his fourth Grade 1 win of his career aboard the brilliant mare, Beach Beauty, in the Paddock Stakes at Kenilworth and then went on to run third on the same runner in the J & B Met, a few weeks later. The jockey that stands out most in his mind is the likeable Brazilian jockey Joao Moreira, whom he competed against whilst in Singapore. Cormack is a very family-orientated man and is married to former jockey Chantal Moys, with whom he has an eight-year old son. He has six rides on this Saturday’s Kenilworth card and has singled out JEPPE’S REEF as his best ride on the day. We wish Sean and his family everything of the best in their future endeavours and will continue to follow the progress of his rejuvenated career with much interest.

 

What is your name and age? Sean Cormack – I am 42 years old.

What is your star sign and birthdate? Virgo – 17 September 1970.

Where were you born? Harare – Zimbabwe.

Where do you live? Hillcrest – Kwa Zulu Natal.

Tell us about your family? I am married to Chantal and have an awesome little 8 year old boy called Blaise.

Do you have a ‘nickname’? Not really.

Favourite food? I love my wife’s spaghetti Bolognaise.

Favourite drink? Coca Cola.

Favourite music? The Script.

Favourite sport? Football.

Favourite soccer team? Newcastle United.

What is your favourite holiday destination? Cairns, Australia and Mauritius but my dream destination is Italy.

Who is your favourite author? I don’t read much, but I do think that J.K.Rowling’s books make good movies.

What book are you reading at the moment? Computaform.

Which characteristic about yourself do you like most? My loyalty and determination. I also like it that I have a love for animals, that I hope takes me down different paths.

Which characteristic do you like least?  The way I react when I get upset. It’s a side of me I wish I didn’t have.

What tertiary education did you complete? Jockey Academy matric.

Is there anything the public don’t know about Sean Cormack that they would be interested to know? I don’t know if it would interest anybody but Chantal, Blaise and I are really trying to support the survival of Rhino’s. Blaise has donated nearly R 2000,00 himself to the Wildlife ACT Fund to save Rhino’s and we are so proud of him.

Tell us about your introduction into horseracing? My parents love horseracing and they had a family friend who owned some racehorses. They gave me the option and I always saw myself having a career as a sportsman. They have always been there for me and obviously steered me in the right direction.

As a youngster did you harbour thoughts of becoming a jockey? Not really, I honestly thought I was going to be playing football in the English Premier League.

How old were you when you entered the academy? 14.

Who were your fellow apprentices at the academy? Anton Marcus, Anthony Delpech, Weichong Marwing and Johnny G.

Which of them were you particularly friendly with? I was friends with all four of those guys, but was very close friends with Anthony Delpech. Anton Marcus and I have been close mates for a long time.

Which trainer, or trainers, befriended you and helped you on your way? There were many trainers who helped me, but there is only one man who gave me the chance when I needed it most, “PAUL LAFFERTY”. We had plenty of success together and I can never repay him for the support and loyalty he gave to me. Thanks Laff. As an owner Steve Sturlese played an important role in my career and will always be close to me and my family.

Who did you ride your first winner for? Willie Pieters.

Where was it and what horse was it? It was at Scottsville and her name was “Mark Up”.

For many years your mainstay trainer was Paul Lafferty. It must be a pleasure for you to ride one for Paul now and again? It brings back good memories and he always makes me laugh. I was Laff’s sidekick when I was riding for him so obviously I enjoy riding for him when I can.

You had a stint with Basil Marcus in Singapore. Did you enjoy riding there and was it difficult for you and Basil, as a team, to really crack it as you were expected to? I loved Singapore and think it was a great experience. I think we did reasonably well as a team considering that about 80% of our string were 2 year olds. It’s not Basil’s style to rush his horses.

How enjoyable did you and your family find everyday living in Singapore? Awesome! I loved it there, so much energy. Chantal and Blaise enjoyed it but they started to miss home and the outdoors.  Living in an apartment is not how I want my boy to grow up.

When Basil decided to leave Singapore did you have any thoughts about finding another trainer to ride for and stay? I had been a freelance jockey for a few months and was already back in South Africa when Basil decided to leave.

Did you leave Singapore with regret or were you looking forward to getting your career back on track in South Africa? I don’t have many regrets and I left Singapore to come home to be with my family and carry on from where I left off. It would be really silly of me to have regrets after getting the job with the Drier yard and having had such a good season.

On your return to SA you almost immediately struck up a relationship with Glen Kotzen. Was this previously arranged or did it just happen after you arrived back in the country? It just fell into place because he didn’t really have a full time jockey.

You immediately started riding Princess Victoria and won on her 4 times. You ran unplaced on her in the South African Fillies Sprint, over 1200m and you then came into some criticism for running her down the centre of the track when the inside going was better. In hindsight what have you got to say to the critics about that ride? Unfortunately for those critics I don’t care what they think or say. I was a scapegoat for a disappointing run and if those same critics had seen her final workout leading up to that race, they wouldn’t have been wearing their “BLAME THE JOCKEY” T-shirts.

Do you rate Princess Victoria amongst the best horses you have ridden? Without a doubt. She is brilliant and I can’t wait to see her back on the racecourse.

After a slightly quiet spell you are now back with a bang and you are riding for all of Justin Snaith, Dennis Drier, Joey Ramsden and Mike Bass. It must be great for you to be in such demand? I am very blessed to be in this position, being stable jockey for the Drier yard and have the backing of some powerful yards. Justin has been so supportive at a time when his yard is flying and Joey is a great trainer and always helps me out.

With all these trainers, plus your KZN connections, clamoring for your services do you have an agent helping you? No, I do my own rides.

You have said that you are riding the same way as you always have but it looks as though you have matured immensely and there can be no doubt that you are now riding at the peak of your career. Do you think being a family man with a young child may have something to do with it? I think there are a few factors contributing to my riding. My experiences overseas and having an amazing family have made a huge difference to my life.

Your wife Chantal (Moys) was a jockey herself. Do you think being able to discuss your rides and your career with her, as one who knows exactly what it is all about, is a big help to you? It is definitely a huge help because Chantal understands what I’m going through and when awkward situations present themselves she is right there next to me to deal with them. What’s even better is that she shares the special moments with me as well.

Many of your top rides are now for Cape trainers. Do you have any thoughts about moving to Cape Town? No thoughts as yet. I love riding for Dennis and Gill Drier. They are very special people.

As it is it must be a big mission riding in both KZN and the Cape. How tiring is the travelling backwards and forwards? It is very tiring but it comes with the territory. If you want it bad enough you must go the extra mile.

The Cape season will soon be tapering off and then it will be Gauteng and the big KZN winter season. How advanced are your plans for riding in the big features during the KZN season? I have got an idea on what horses will be aimed at certain races but it is a bit early for hard and set plans. As anybody in racing knows, things can change very quickly.

Have you been promised any special rides for the season and which horses are they? I have a few horses that I will more than likely ride, I hope it all goes accordingly.

Of the younger horses which do you rate highly? I think I have made it very obvious what I think about Schiffer, but I rate Chave De Oura, Barbosa, True Master and Dynamic as really smart horses. I think it’s too early to rate the 2 Year Olds.

On the 2nd of February you rode Beach Beauty in the R2 500 000 J&B Met at Kenilworth. She ran a highly creditable third behind Martial Eagle. Tell us how the race went for you and will she be contesting any big features in KZN this winter? I think the race went really well for us. Maybe the pace was a little inconsistent but she tried her best as she always does. I am fortunate to be associated with her. I’m sure she will be contesting a few of the KZN features but I am not 100% sure what route Mr. Drier will go. After all he’s the boss.

Dennis Drier has had a marvellous Cape season. Do you expect this to continue in the KZN season? I am so glad that the season went really well for us and being the top trainer that he is I have no doubt the KZN season will be a successful one.

Apart from Beach Beauty which of Drier’s horses do you expect to make it big during the KZN season? I think we have a group of really nice up and coming horses that will make their presence felt this winter season Chave De Oura, Barbosa, Sunshine Rock, Sue For Peace and I have plenty of faith in King Neptune. There are others but I hope the owners understand that I couldn’t mention them all.

How many grade 1 winners have you ridden in your career? 4.

Which are the major feature races you have won? I have won 37 feature races including the Merchants Handicap, Kings Cup, Drill Hall Stakes, Paddock Stakes, Cape Guineas, Natal Guineas, Allan Robertson, Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup and the Premier Stakes.

How many winners have you had in your career? About 1000.

If you had any advice for your fellow associates in the racing game what would it be? Hard work and dedication and never lose your love for the thoroughbred. They really are special animals and sometimes we forget that without them we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Which is your favourite racecourse in South Africa and abroad? I favour any track that is in good condition. At the moment Kenilworth and Clairwood are my best. I really enjoyed the Sunshine Coast track in Brisbane, Australia.

You have ridden against many top jockeys in SA and abroad. Which jockey stands out in your mind? I rode with Joao Moreira in Singapore.  He is very talented and such a nice guy.

Briefly tell us about a typical working day for Sean Cormack? Trackwork in the morning, a good shower and a cup of coffee while I catch up on a bit of form or tabloids. I love going to pick up my son from school if I’m not racing and we do his homework together. We will either do a bit of shopping or just spend time at home in the afternoon and then a light meal and another shower before an early night. Racedays are a little bit more intense.

How do you celebrate a particularly good day? A good restaurant and a great bottle of wine with my wife and my little boy.

Klawervlei has again offered a R250 000 incentive for winning the Jockeys Championship. What are your thoughts on that? Well, obviously it’s a great incentive but it’s not easy to get your hands on it. It has made it really worthwhile as it can be taxing on a jockey physically with all the travelling and body battering that the guys put themselves through.

Is there any chance that if things continue as they are that you would consider chasing the championship? I would definitely consider it but there is a long way to go and with Gauteng racing so often it makes it hard to compete. I would have to be in a position to get support in another centre or two if I had a chance of winning it. It is very tempting though.

From your own observations what do you consider to be the very important factors in order to make a success of riding? There are so many. I think you obviously have to have the basic skills and then you must have good PR. You’ve got to be hungry and dedicated enough to want it that bad.

Please can we have a comment for your rides on Saturday 23 February 2013?

Race 2: FLASH DRIVE (6) – First timer.

Race 3: NEED FOR SPEED (9) –
Fourth first time out, with natural improvement he should have a big chance.

Race 4: TRUE MASTER (3) –
He is a classy sort and I give him a very big chance.

Race 5: FLY BY NIGHT (4) –
Victorian Secret is the one to beat. I give her a place chance.

Race 6: TERMINATOR (6) –
Very good run last time. He is holding form and I give him a big chance.

Race 8: JEPPE’S REEF (2) –
I give him an outstanding chance. He is probably my best for the day.

From your experiences abroad what can South African racing do to attract the crowds to the tracks? That’s really a tough question; it is hard to compare with Asia because of their huge population and passion for gambling. Australia on the other hand has a great balance in that they have this love for the racehorse and all the history and tradition that follows, but they also love to have a bet. I think we need to think like the younger generation and try to make things a bit more exciting to them. We fortunately have been in the game and know how exciting it is but for those who haven’t experienced it they won’t know. A perfect example is The Queen’s Plate which is sponsored by L’Omarin’s and is pretty much organised by Mrs. Rupert herself, with the help of Jonathan Snaith. It has become a huge success. Something different, fresh, exciting and very classy has been brought to the racecourse in one racemeeting. I must say though, I wouldn’t like the job as it isn’t an easy one.

If for any reason you had to give up being a jockey what else would you consider doing? Anything to try and help save the Wildlife. If you’ve ever seen a two week old Rhino it will break your heart to see what’s happening to these beautiful animals. Every wild animal deserves to live and we as humans have lost all respect and compassion for them. It really upsets me when I think about it.

Outside of racing what is your biggest passion? My family and friends, and I can’t forget our little hedgehog “Harley”. He’s very special.

Do you think enough is being done to keep racing ‘straight’? That’s an old question that people have stopped answering and yet it still gets asked. Yes, I think with science and technology everything has become more controlled.

What is your philosophy on the racing game? Horseracing is a successful industry and without the politics, pettiness and inconsistency it will always be the “Sport Of Kings”. The horse should come first and unfortunately it seems that money is the main priority.

How has becoming a father affected your life? It has been the best moment of my life. My little boy is everything to Chantal and I. He has shown me just how much I would sacrifice for him. He is my son, my friend and sometimes my little shadow. I am very blessed to have a special wife and an amazing little boy. He’s my hero.

The old maxim is, “Behind every successful man is an equally successful woman.” Does that apply to Sean Cormack? It is very true, Chantal is my calming influence and yet she picks me up when I get a bit despondent, she is also my best friend. Every decision is made together to benefit the whole family. Chantal is so passionate about saving and protecting wildlife that I know she will make a difference.

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