Bordering on publicity shy, Raymond ‘Stingray’ Danielson is one of those low-profile sportsmen who clearly avoids the limelight.
But with ten Gr1 victories in an impressive career haul of 47 listed and group races, the single-handicap golfer is also a guy who gets the job done.
Winning Form’s newest sponsored rider was chatting to the Sporting Post earlier this week and responded to a bit of a curved ball opening question – ‘are you satisfied with your career achievements so far?’
For the record, Raymond’s most recent Gr1 dates back to June 2020 when Out Of Your League stormed home to win the SA Derby at Turffontein.
“I am very happy that I have won 47 listed and group races so far. However, like any sports person I suppose, I feel I could be further. But I know that I still have so much more to give. And I am ready to step up and am very excited at the support of Winning Form via their sponsorship. I really am privileged to be part of the top team and can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
With the imminent departure of champion Lyle Hewitson to the East, the prestigious Tarry first choice jock job will be vacated.
Raymond has ridden many big race winners for the multiple champion conditioner – so does Stingray consider himself in the running with an outside chance of slotting in?
“I have been freelancing for a good few years now. I am aware that Mr Tarry is keeping his options open. All I can do is work hard and hope that I get a few chances. And maybe with a few winners I can get my foot in the door. But nobody is entitled to anything in life!” he adds modestly.
Turning 36 on 12 November, the Port Elizabeth-born jockey had no family connection to anything equine or racing.
But there are twists and turns of fate in all of our lives – and one such event occurred early on.
“I got very lucky. I knew nothing about racing and had never seen or touched a horse. My friend Vestus’ Dad, Hannes Van Tonder, was an owner in Port Elizabeth and he introduced me to racing, taking my size into account. He took me to the old Arlington racecourse and I loved it. The rest, as they say, is history. The moment I sat on a horse I knew this is what I wanted to do.”
Raymond joined the SA Jockey Academy in 2002 alongside the likes of Richard Fourie, Keanen Steyn, Muzi Yeni and Sam Freedman.
His first winner was for trainer Desmond Egdes on a horse called Coastward at Hollywoodbets Scottsville on 7 March 2004.
Fast forward seventeen years, Raymond has developed a top notch cv for a relatively low-key quietly spoken personality, and the Greenstone Johannesburg-resident says he is at an age and position in life where he has no excuses to go to the next level.
Domestic stability also plays a role – he is unmarried ‘without children’, as he puts it, but he has been in a happy stable relationship for seven years now.
“I am in a good space emotionally and physically. My plans are to get Johannesburg rolling with the winners, and then would like to travel to KZN and Port Elizabeth.”
And, of course there is his passion – golf!
“I try and play once a week. I play off a single figure handicap and get very competitive when it comes to golf as, beyond Manchester United and soccer, it’s one of my favourite hobbies,” he admits almost apologetically.
So can we expect a few Gr1 winners this term?
“I am fit, healthy, in my prime and now enjoy the support of a world-class sponsor in Winning Form. Hard work and patience are the key. Dare I say, watch this space!”