Of all the jockeys competing on July day at Hollywoodbets Greyville, it is Richard Fourie whom many punters will rely on to put them in the payout queue.
As stable jockey to champion trainer elect Justin Snaith, it is perhaps a surprise the Boksburg-educated rider has not been a factor in the championship. He rode 94 winners in the 2019/2020 season in which Warren Kennedy won his first title with 209 successes.
This term Fourie’s tally (to June 21) is 117 and that is exactly half of the winners racked up by Lyle Hewitson.
Nevertheless, when it comes to big races such as the July and Cape Met, backers want to know what Fourie is riding and he is come up trumps in the last two runnings of the Vodacom Durban July on Do It Again and Belgarion.
His decision to partner Do It Again this year instead of Belgarion surprised a few pundits mainly because no horse has won the July three times. Also, last year’s winner, Belgarion, is a younger horse.
What is astonishing — and maddening for both Fourie and Snaith — is that five of the stable’s runners have drawn badly. Lady luck went missing for Do It Again (July), Bayberry (Gold Vase), Captain’s Ransom (Garden Province), Kasimir (Post Merchants) and Native Tongue (Compendium Insurance Handicap).
Captain’s Ransom barrier of 13 is not regarded as a problem for Fourie who told the media at last Thursday’s July gallops that the Garden Province would be “no race”.
It is worth remembering that jockeys are not renowned as great tipsters, but the daughter of Captain Al ticks all the boxes. With War Of Athena and Princess Calla in the line-up, it could be the most thrilling of the 10 races.
Despite being a 17-2 chance in ante-post betting, this column remains convinced that Princess Calla — to be ridden for the first time by Lyle Hewitson — could be a player. It could pay to take exactas with Adam Marcus’ runner.
Though Bayberry’s wide gate of 16 in the Gold Vase might not be that serious as it is a 3,000m marathon, Do It Again has only two runners outside him in the July and — in the Merchants — Kasimir is drawn 13 out of 14.
Native Tongue, a lightly raced son of Master Of My Fate who has won three of his eight starts, looks certain to have his supporters in the final event on the card, the 1,600m Compendium Insurance Handicap. This time Fourie has to overcome barrier 12.
Fourie rides a Snaith newcomer, Three Hearts, in the first race, but the runner who makes most appeal in this 1,400m contest is the recent Gary Player-bred Vaal winner, Winter Renegade.
Paul Matchett’s juvenile is the latest of this family to shine and she is understandably delighting her breeder.
This writer was lucky enough to chat to the SA golf legend last Friday. Player, in Hawaii, said: “Her [Winter Renegade’s] Vaal win was impressive and she is, of course, a half-sister to Vars Vicky. Her half-sister by Trippi was sold to Suzette Viljoen for R850,000 at the National Sale and I hope she does well.”
“Of course, Molly, the most important thing for me at present is the health of my dear wife,” said Player.
Vivienne Player was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June last year.
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