Muzi Yeni. Picture: GALLO IMAGES / FOTO24 / DEON FERREIRA
Muzi Yeni. Picture: GALLO IMAGES / FOTO24 / DEON FERREIRA

Popular jockey Muzi Yeni would appear to have taken a leaf out of Gary Player’s book. The legendary golfer, who celebrates his 85th birthday on November 1, said: “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”

When it comes to hard work, Yeni scores 10 out of 10. This week he was at Turffontein on Tuesday where he won on Ululate; at  Hollywoodbets Greyville on Wednesday where he scored on Swagger Jagger; and he had six mounts at the Vaal on Thursday.

Winning Form statistics (August 1 to September 14) show Yeni has ridden in 116 races in the first six weeks of the new campaign. Only Lyle Hewitson has ridden in more.

With the 2019-2020 season disrupted due to a 90-day suspension, Yeni had no chance of winning the jockeys title, but Mr “Have Saddle Will Travel” is very much in the mix this term.

On Saturday, the 33-year-old will be at Turffontein for eight rides on the nine-race programme and it will be a major surprise if he returns home empty-handed.

Over the years the combination of Robbie Sage and Yeni has enjoyed considerable success and they have the chance of a double with Euphoriant (fourth race) and Dromedaris in the first leg of the jackpot.

Four-year-old Euphoriant has improved with every run and the filly can leave the maidens provided she stays 2,600m, which she is trying for the first time. Fort Love and Tuscan Light rate as the main dangers.

Possibly seven-year-old Dromedaris is a safer wager as he is weighted to turn the tables on old-timer Top Shot, who is still performing admirably for Gary Alexander’s stable.

Alexander’s former SA Derby winner Hero’s Honour looks a bigger threat, though the six-year-old faces no easy task in conceding 8kg to Dromedaris.

Mike de Kock’s four-year-old Barak receives 10kg from Hero’s Honour and will have his supporters in his bid to complete a hat-trick. Jarryd Penny gets the ride on the son of Master Of My Fate.

The most interesting race is the seventh in which some useful performers such as Rebel’s Champ, Ikigai, Divine Odyssey, Youcanthurrylove and Fired Up clash in the 1,450m Pinnacle Plate.

Rebel’s Champ has made Paul Peter’s stable proud and victory will take the six-year-old’s earnings over R1m. Divine Odyssey ran a creditable seventh in the Vodacom July and is reunited with Raymond Danielson, who rode the gelding to victory in the Jubilee Handicap.

Ikigai’s earnings are only slightly less than Rebel’s Champ and the son of Vercingetorix is two years younger with not a lot of mileage on the clock. His most recent run was his ninth place behind Golden Ducat in the Champions Cup.

This is where we turn again to Winning Form Statistics. Up to September 14, Sean Tarry had saddled three winners from 68 runners.

A racing colleague found this astonishing, but this writer pointed out that Tarry had started slowly last season and ended up champion trainer by a street.

“Just wait till Putontheredlight runs on Tuesday, I think he’s Chris van Niekerk’s next star and I’m having two months bond money on him. Asterix won’t see him for dust.”

The latter is true. Asterix did not see him as he was too far in front. Backers of Putontheredlight can have only stared in disbelief with the four-year-old never a factor and beaten by five lengths.

There is no question Ikigai, the 2-1 favourite in early betting, has the ability to beat Saturday’s field. Let’s hope the colt shows the form that won him the Gauteng Guineas in February.

This brings us to Youcanthurrylove and another Muzi Yeni ride, Fired Up. On Gauteng Guineas form, the former cannot beat Ikigai, but Fabian Habib’s four-year-old has been gelded and his performance will be closely monitored.

Even with just 52kg on his back, Fired Up faces some established rivals, yet he hails from a top stable and ran out a facile winner of his last start. It is a tough call making a selection, but the recommendation is to rove Fired Up in the trifecta.

Whatever the fate of Hero’s Honour and Top Shot earlier in the meeting, the Alexander stable will be expecting a big run from Just Kidding in the eighth race.

Bred at Summerhill Stud — the source of many of the yard’s winners — this daughter of Visionaire has been competing in top female company and should go close from a favourable draw.

Candice Dawson, whose Bahna Bridge appeals as a good “roughie” in the sixth, saddles Meercat, and the daughter of Querari is reunited with Gavin Lerena. With just 49.5kg on her back, Comet Crystal also comes into the equation.

SELECTIONS

1st Race: (6) Dawn Of A New Era (9) Master Uletide (10) The Kop (11) Emerald Floe

2nd Race: (1) Quattro Passi (6) Master Mariner (9) Humble Tune (7) Burning Ice

3rd Race: (6) Aberdare (11) So They Say (2) Oceans Pride (10) Fort Snow

4th Race: (7) Euphoriant (2) Fort Love (8) Tuscan Light (11) Corsage

5th Race: (3) Dromedaris (1) Hero’s Honour (5) Barak (2) Dawn Assault

6th Race: (3) Banha Bridge (2) Category Four (1) Master and Man (5) Chevron

7th Race: (8) Fired Up (1) Ikigai (2) Rebel’s Champ (3) Divine Odyssey

8th Race: (2) Just Kidding (4) Meercat (7) Comet Crystal (5) Now You See Me

9th Race: (3) Welsh Harp (2) Curvation (9) Pretty Jolly (6) Readysetglo 

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