ANTON MARCUS, who has won the South African Jockeys’ Championship for the last two seasons, will captain a strong team in the two-legged The Citizen International Jockeys’ Challenge.
The Proteas’ team was announced by Larry Wainstein, chairman of the Racing Association which is the driving force behind The Citizen International Jockeys’ Challenge.
The first four riders on last season’s national jockeys’ log – Marcus, Anthony Delpech, Muzi Yeni and Felix Coetzee – automatically made the team. The two “wild-card” riders are Weichong Marwing and Piere Strydom with Sherman Brown the reserve.
The international team will be announced in the next few weeks.
Like last year, The Citizen International Jockeys’ Challenge will be staged across two meetings – the first on Friday night 11 November at Turffontein, where two feature races will be run – the R300,000 Victory Moon Stakes (Grade 2) and the R135,000 Gardenia Handicap (Listed). The second leg is on Sunday 13 November at Kenilworth, where the R300,000 Betting World Merchants (G2) tops the programme.
The teams will compete in four races at each of the meetings and points will be scored according to finishing positions. The international team will also compete against a six-member “Rising Star’’ team at each meeting.
There will be a draw for mounts in each of the challenge races and the runners will be seeded beforehand in order to equalise the chances of the two teams as much as is possible.
Pen pics of the Proteas:
South Africa’s ruling champion jockey, Cape Town-born ANTON MARCUS (41), has captained the Proteas to victory in the last two International Jockeys’ Challenges. Marcus, who achieved a 27.9% winning strike rate in taking the jockeys’ title last season, has now won the championship three times following wins in 2000-2001 and 2009-10. His big successes in South Africa last season included the Queen’s Plate aboard Mother Russia, the Gold Medallion on Delago Deluxe and the Garden Province Stakes with Happy Archer. Marcus has ridden with distinction in Dubai, Hong Kong, Mauritius and Singapore and led the Rest of the World team at the 2010 Shergar Cup at Ascot.
Having struck up a successful partnership with champion Igugu, Seychelles-born ANTHONY DELPECH (32) had the most successful season of his career in 2010-11 and was pipped on the post by Anton Marcus in the chase for the jockeys’ premiership. Igugu, of course, won three races at the highest level with Delpech aboard and the rider also teamed up to good effect with Shea Shea to win the Golden Horse Casino Sprint at Scottsville. Delpech also won 10 Grade 2 races, including the Victory Moon Stakes last year aboard Perana. He has ridden with great success in Mauritius, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai and this will be his fourth International Jockeys Challenge.
Well-liked Durban-born jockey MUZI YENI (25), who has ridden 446 winners in his career, rode in the International Jockeys’ Challenge for the first time in 2010 and was the leading rider at the Turffontein leg. Having come within two winners of his century in the 2009-10 season, he went all out to ensure he passed that milestone last term, riding 1,246 horses for 133 wins. He scored his first Grade 1 victory when partnering Happy Landing in the President’s Champions Challenge at Turffontein this year. His only off-shore international experience came early last year when he rode in an international jockeys’ invitational in Korea and notched a winner.
Durban-born veteran FELIX COETZEE (52), who has won the South African jockeys’ championship three times, has ridden with distinction in South Africa, Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong where he is best remembered for his association with the Tony Cruz’s mighty Silent Witness. He is currently in Japan to partner Singapore-based sprint star Rocket Man in the Grade 1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m) at Nakayama Racecourse near Tokyo on Sunday. A man for the big occasion, he has won nearly every major feature race in South Africa, including the Gold Cup a record-equalling seven times, the Met five times and the Durban July three times.
Five-time SA champion jockey PIERE STRYDOM (45) has also ridden with success in Hong Kong, Australia, Dubai and the UK. Having won well over 4,000 races in his career – and being one of only a few jockeys in the world to have booted in six winners at a meeting – he spent four months of the last SA racing season in Hong Kong and still managed a top-20 finish on the local jockeys’ log. This Port Elizabeth-born jockey’s most important success last season was when driving JJ The Jet Plane to a nose victory over Rocket Man and Felix Coetzee in the Grade 1 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin in December. Strydom has been a member of the Proteas at the last three Jockeys Challenges and won the individual challenge last year.
Harare-born SHERMAN BROWN (36), at 1.7m one of the tallest jockeys around, won the Mauritius jockeys’ premiership in 2008 in his final full season there. He enjoyed one of his best years in South Africa in 2010-11, when he finished fifth on the SA jockeys’ log and booted in 116 winners. Known for his association with the late Buddy Maroun and star sprinter Golden Loom, he has also ridden in with success in Harare and the United Arab Emirates.
Photo: Weichong Marwing, Piere Strydom and Anthony Delpech, teammates again. (freeracer.co.za).