For a legendary jockey with more than 5,000 winners to his name, it is something of a surprise that Piere Strydom has won SA’s famous staying race, the Gold Cup, only once.
His sole victory came on Reveille Boy for trainer Brett Crawford in 2005.
Strydom, 53, hopes to make it two wins when he flies back from Mauritius this week to ride Roy Had Enough in the 3,200m marathon at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Saturday.
Strydom has signed a three-month contract with trainer Rameshwar Gujadhur in Mauritius and has immediately been among the winners on the island.
It was way back in September 1982 when Strydom rode his first winner, partnering a horse named Saadabad to victory at Scottsville for trainer John Nicholson.
The six-time champion has hinted he may hang up his saddle in two years when he turns 55, but he remains a huge talent and, as 46-year-old golfer Lee Westwood proved with a good showing in the Open, advancing years do not mean one cannot compete at the highest level.
The Gold Cup is one of a number of feature races on the Greyville card on Saturday, with pundits and punters looking forward to the World Sports Betting Champions Cup, which the sponsors rate as a match race between Buffalo Bill Cody and Vodacom July runner-up Rainbow Bridge. Both horses are quoted at 17-10.
The Vaal hosts two meetings this week and it will be interesting to see if Valbonne can defy top weight of 6kg in Tuesday’s sixth race at the Free State course.
Roy Magner’s four-year-old drops in class after winning his last start in a higher handicap, so may be able to land his third win of the year.
The opposition to Valbonne includes another recent winner, Oravar, the mount of Lyle Hewitson, and Operetta, who represents the red-hot stable of Paul Peter.
Oravar beat Talktothestars at Turffontein in May, but the runner-up failed to frank the form when failing to justify strong support at Turffontein last Saturday.
Both Pretty Penny and recent Greyville third Kissable also rate each-way chances in what could turn out to be the best race on the card.
Trainer Heather Adamson does well with a small string of horses, and her three-year-old Turf Master is likely to be sent off favourite in the fifth race. A son of Master Of My Fate, the gelding has been placed in each of his last five outings and is overdue a visit to the No 1 box.
The main threat to Turf Master is likely to be another Paul Peter runner Gold Griffin. The son of Greys Inn finished third behind Turf Master last time out and another good run looks on the cards.
What A Red — a daughter of What A Winter — will bid to complete a hat-trick when she lines up against 13 rivals in the seventh race over 1,000m. Once again, it is a Paul Peter runner, Ocean City, also bidding for three wins in a row, who rates the main danger.
Celestina, Sean Tarry’s only runner at the meeting, comes into the reckoning with Hewitson in the irons. The daughter of Kahal has been placed in her last two outings.
1st Race: (2) Capetown Dream (8) Kisumu (1) Balletto (6) Empress Josephine
2nd Race: (12) Royal Escapade (5) Kindavar (6) Great Prosperity (16) Nordic Queen
3rd Race: (1) Folk Dance (4) Comaneci (5) Bullsade (2) Rouge Allure
4th Race: (1) Miss Tycoon (3) Laconia (2) Shezahotti (5) One Dollar Massage
5th Race: (2) Turf Master (1) Gold Griffin (4) Smart Deal (5) Voodoo
6th Race: (1) Valbonne (4) Oravar (10) Operetta (8) Kissable
7th Race: (1) What A Red (5) Ocean City (6) Celestina (4) Memphis Belle
8th Race: (2) Movie Magic (6) Golden Spiral (8) What A Joker (4) Dread The Dragon
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