Not many five-year-olds decide their careers at that stage of their lives, and certainly not many on a Durban beach. But Luke Ferraris falls into that rare category and the apprentice jockey will be rewarded for his drive and determination at the Vaal on Thursday.   

In an interview when he joined the Jockey Academy, Ferraris said: “When I was five we went on a holiday to Zimbali [a resort north of Durban] and I remember galloping up the beach, not one bit of fear. That’s kind of when I knew what I really wanted to do.

“I started having riding lessons in Hong Kong when I was three or four. When the instructors gave me a break, I’d try and pull my irons up.”

Fast forward to 2020 and — even if he does not ride a winner at the Vaal on Thursday — Ferraris will be crowned champion apprentice for the second year running. It will delight his father David, who moved his training operation to Hong Kong in 2003.

Up to July 22, Ferraris had ridden 76 winners this term and was in 10th place in the national jockeys log.

The 2,400m Middle Stakes is the topliner on Thursday’s nine-race card and Ferraris has an each-way chance on Sean Tarry’s mare Chariot Of Gold. The five-year-old got a photo-finish verdict over Pilgrim’s Progress in her latest outing.

However, this is a race in which punters need to include a number of runners in permutations with all of Christopher Robin, Gold Griffin, Palace Green, Dance Class and African Adventure in with chances.

Trainer St John Gray runs Christopher Robin and the worry about the colt is that he has had a recent road journey back from KZN after winning narrowly at Greyville 11 days ago.

Gray also saddles Dance Class, who is bidding to notch her fourth win in a row. It looks a tough ask as the filly is 4.5kg worse off with Palace Green compared with their clash a fortnight ago.

Joe Soma will still be on a high about Got The Greenlight’s second in the Durban July, and his runner African Adventure goes to the Free State track in good form.

Apprentice Jeffrey Syster rides Gold Griffin for trainer Paul Peter, and his allowance will reduce the four-year-old’s weight to 53.5kg. The gelding put in a fair effort in the recent Gold Bowl.

The Stellenbosch estate Avontuur Farm brings a strong draft to this week’s National Yearling Sales and one of the lots is a Rafeef colt out of the Argentinian mare Bambina Stripes. The youngster’s half-sister Serenity runs in the fourth race and it would be a timely win if the filly could open her account for the Azzie stable.

Gal Gadot, the mount of Denis Schwarz for trainer Shayden Naidoo, rates the main threat to Serenity but will have to overcome a wide draw.

Probably the best of Luke Ferraris’s eight rides will be the Querari filly Persica, who has bumped a weak field in the ninth race. This is the three-year-old’s third race in July and she could post her third career win if getting the better of Piere Strydom’s mount Soul Of Wit.


1st Race: (2) Regards To All (1) Nazareth (4) Theatre Of Dreams (5) Nu Bell

2nd Race: (1) Curious (5) Bingwa (2) Fists Of Fire (3) Red Bishop

3rd Race: (5) Chamingatthebit (11) Forever Light (2) Secret Glider (3) Bravestarr

4th Race: (2) Serenity (1) Gal Gadot (3) Cotopaxi (7) Love To Give

5th Race: (1) Romantic Era (3) Pacific Dream (2) Great Esteem (6) Fort Love

6th Race: (5) Chariot Of Gold (8) African Adventure (14) Palace Green (1) Christopher Robin

7th Race: (4) Kapama (3) Elusive Force (5) Targaryen Queen (6) Louvain

8th Race: (7) Category Four (2) Dark Tide (5) Waqaas (3) Holy Man

9th Race: (6) Persica (2) Soul Of Wit (1) Heart Of A Legend (3) Olivine

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