Apprentice Athandiwe Mgudlwa stirred up Scottsville Racecourse yesterday when he became the first apprentice to win all four legs of the Jackpot since the great Michael Roberts almost 40 years ago.
Mgudlwa, recently appointed Head-boy of the South African Jockey’s Academy (SAJA), is currently in hot form having ridden 10 winners this month.
Athandiwe Mgudlwa (Gold Circle).
Mgudlwa has drawn widespread praise for his riding style and attitude.
SAJA Riding Master Laurence O’Donoghue said, “Athandiwe is a very quiet and respectful young man. He’s very well balanced and ninety percent of a jockey’s ability comes from balance. His confidence is now up and that’s another important aspect.”
Former champion jockey and now trainer Garth Puller spotted Mgudlwa’s talent a long time ago, “He has good hands and a good temperament and listens. He is now gaining confidence and is no longer being bullied out of position, he’s now bullying himself into position. I think he will continue to do well after he’s lost his claim as he has natural talent and has a good attitude.”
Roberts was on course for Mgudlwa’s four-timer yesterday and was the first to comment. “He’s good, I think he is very promising,” said the former eleven-time South African champion.
Mgudlwa put his recent turnaround in form to moving from a Clairwood yard to a Summerveld yard. “More people are noticing me there so I’m getting better rides,” he said.
He has come into his own since joining trainer Alyson Wright’s yard and the pair have formed a lethal combination, bringing home seven winners together in February.
Mgudlwa had two winners for Wright, Wooden Gold and Gortahawk who he had felt beforehand had good chances as well as the Glen Kotzen-trained First Sovereign, as he had been working all of them on the gallops. The Mark Dixon-trained Modern Express came as a bonus.