In a recent interview, 19-year-old jockey Lyle Hewitson commented: "It’s quite cool that my name’s becoming familiar."
After two months of the 2017-18 season, the former pupil of Kearsney College near Durban, is enjoying so much success that his name is more than familiar and has become a favourite of racing fans with top stables more than happy to engage the youngster.
Amazingly, when you consider his rivals include such seasoned riders as Anthony Delpech, Gavin Lerena and Piere Strydom, Hewitson finds himself at the top of the national jockeys log and a first championship title is a possibility.
Last Saturday champion trainer Sean Tarry booked Hewitson for his three-year-old Wonderwall in the Joburg Spring Challenge at Turffontein and he turned in another polished display to beat stablemate Finchatton, and Will Pays.
Tarry has engaged Hewitson for two rides at the Vaal on Tuesday and the pick of the pair could be Rightful King who takes on nine rivals in the sixth race. The four-year-old hinted he was coming back to his best form when fourth behind Le Tigre at Turffontein last month.
The likely favourite in this 1,200m contest is St John Gray’s three-year-old Manitoba. The colt ran third in a feature race at the Vaal on Grand Heritage day and should go close in the hands of another promising youngster, Craig Zackey.
Lerena, successful on Forest Fox for trainer Paul Peter in the Grand Heritage, partners the stable’s five-year-old sprinter Arabian Beat. The gelding will be competitive if fully fit after a 10-week break.
Hewitson rides Serene Hostess for Tarry in the first leg of the jackpot, but the filly is a slow starter and has cut little ice in her five outings.
Preference in this 1,800m race is for Mike de Kock’s three-year-old Excalibur’s Return who made a pleasing debut at Turffontein last month. Ryan Munger retains the ride on the daughter of Golden Sword.