THE 2014/15 SA racing season is just two months old, but already the respective races for National Titles are taking interesting shape. Reigning Champion Trainer Justin Snaith is off to a good start, while six-time Champion Piere Strydom has started with a bang among the jockeys.
It feels like just yesterday when a 22-year-old Strydom, reserved and camera-shy, made his debut in Gauteng courtesy of his then-agent, Louis Goosen, who couldn’t stop talking about “Striker, the blond bomber from Port Elizabeth”.
It’s early days yet, but Piere Strydom could bag a 7th National Title without actually trying to. That’s how good “Striker” is!
Approaching age 50 and 5000 career winners, the master jockey is riding as well as ever and while he told Sporting Post a few weeks ago that a title challenge this season will be “purely co-incidental”, he’s already booted home 36 winners for a winning strike rate of 27%.
Strydom leads the early charge and is four wins clear of the other evergreen rider, Anton Marcus, who has 32 winners to his credit for his customary early-term 33% plus – strike rate.
Current Champion Jockey S’Manga Khumalo was slow out of the blocks in the new term but in the last few weeks has shown a return to form. He’s on the 20-winner mark and will be hammering at the door that opens to a private meeting of Top 3 very soon.
Anthony Delpech, Sean Cormack, Gavin Lerena, Muzi Yeni and Greg Cheyne have enjoyed excellent starts to the season too.
Justin Snaith meanwhile, has made a decent start to his title defence – he’s saddled 27 winners (14%) in the first eight weeks of the season, accumulating just over R1,8-million in gross stakes. Mike de Kock is in second spot with his tally on 20 winners (18%), and about R1,54-million in earnings. The stable is coming to top form after “lying low” as it always does during the month of August.
Corne Spies has 13 winners to his name, including an impressive win with Tommy Gun in last week’s R1-million Emerald Cup, which sees him in third spot on the early log on R1,5-million.
The very same Louis Goosen, referred to above, is making eye-catching headway on the log and could be a Top 10 contender this season. He has also notched 13 winners, but from only 50 runners which gives him a 26% winning strike rate – the highest on the log as it stands on 1 October 2014.
Ryan Munger is the leading apprentice with 16 winners, comfortably clear at this stage of Collen Storey and Craig Zackey, jointly I second with 8 successes apiece.