Roberts-Venniker Partnership’s Century Of Winners

'I'm living the dream!' - Rachel

The old firm of multiple SA Champion Apprentice Rachel Venniker and her mentor, trainer Michael Roberts, celebrated a century of winners at Hollywoodbets Greyville on the Worker’s Day public holiday when Chara Sands made it a real family affair, scorching home to win the sixth for breeder and owner, Verna Roberts.

Rachel brings the 100 up as Chara Sands charges home (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

One of SA horseracing’s feelgood stories added another chapter after she broke new ground when becoming the first SA born female jockey to win in Saudi Arabia, when winning the US$400,000 (R7,63m) Invest Saudi International Jockeys Challenge Stakes in February this year.

On Wednesday Rachel rode a beautifully balanced race to bring the Roberts-Venniker 100 up, just under four years after she rode her first winner as a work-rider in August 2020 when steering Enjoy The View to victory at Hollywoodbets Scottsville for owner Nic Jonsson.

Rachel and her Mum Marion on the “movie set” of the world’s richest raceday in Saudi Arabia (Pic – Supplied)

The fairytale of the young horse-crazy lady made good, breaking down walls and shattering prejudices, and eventually realising her lifelong ambition to ride as a professional jockey, continues to add pages and the 22 year old Rachel was over the moon, when chatting to the Sporting Post on Wednesday evening.

“Chara Sands was Mr Roberts’ only runner of the day, and it is really special that our 100 wins milestone came up on a horse that races in the pink and white silks of his wife, Verna Roberts,” she said enthusiastically, as she again heaped praise on the boss and role model that has given her the best foundation any young rider could hope for.

“I have said it before, and, at the risk of boring you, I will say it again – I couldn’t have achieved what I have in my short time as a jockey without Mr Roberts. The Roberts family and all of their horses and staff are my family. I have learnt such valuable lessons and I learn something new every day from a man who ranks as one of the world’s great jockeys of the modern era. I am so fortunate,” adds the 22 year old.

Michael Roberts with the young apprentice Rachel in 2021 (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

Rachel is unique in the world of professional jockeys.

She’s at Summerveld at sparrow, and then finishes mid-morning, whereafter she’s back at home and exercising her own three ‘babies’ – her trio of showjumpers, of which only one is still competitive.

“I love riding, I love my horses. I’m living the dream!” laughs the Jonsson Workwear sponsored professional, who says that she is looking forward to the SA Champions Season, which commences on Saturday.

“I will ride Without Question in the WSB Gr2 1900 on 11 May. He ran a cracking third in the Cape Town Met and I’m hopeful of a good season!”

When taxed on other feature rides, she says Sunday’s Dennis Drier Strelitzia Stakes winner Asiye Phambile gave her a ‘very good feel’.

“Mr Howells has her in a great space. She really won well and has improved so much. I’d call her an exciting prospect for the season,” she adds with a smile.

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