where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2020-08-12 15:39:09  
Personality Profile: Apprentice Jockey Omeara Rusike

SA Horseracing recently took time out to find out more about the up and coming Omeara Rusike who is a female apprentice at the South African Jockey Academy.

How did you get involved in becoming an apprentice?

I got involved in racing in 2015 and this was in December when my dad saw a newspaper advert whilst driving to work. It was about the Zimbabwean Jockey Academy taking in Apprentices in 2016. My dad told me about it and I was so excited to get closer to such a big animal. I then asked dad why as I wanted to continue with my studies his response was "Don’t be afraid to try new things. They aren’t all going to work, but when you find the one that does, you’re going to be so proud of yourself for trying." .. I asked my mom what she thought about it and she agreed with my Dad and she gave me her blessings. I went for my first interview with my mom and within a few days she received a call from the Academy, that I was accepted and I should start on the 4th of April 2016.

How long have you had aspirations to become a jockey?

I had never been close to a horse and neither did I grow up with horses. I used to watch Black Stallion and climb on my Brothers (O'Brien and Ormashah) back and pretend I was on a horse. I wouldn’t say I dreamed of being a jockey, but once I became an apprentice, I got the bug and the dream came alive.

Is there any special traits or requirements one needs for the profession?

Somewhere behind the jockey that I have become, is the hours of practice I put in, all the trainers who pushed me to the limits (Mr and Mrs Wright) the hard falls, the crazy horses, the blood and sweat, tears, blisters and everything in between, but most of all behind all is the girl that fell in love with the horses, the sport ,the passion and never looked back. Being a jockey is not for the faint hearted!

How do you keep fit physically and mentally?

I have been running long distances( 8-13 km)on certain days with Mr Wynne one of the riding masters and sometimes we do some sprint sessions apart from that I spend most of my spare time in the gym and with the help of the SAJA team, Chloe and Tarryn Sneyd, they have helped me a lot with my upper body and fitness. Mentally I listen to music and read books as well as practice visualisation which we practiced a lot in Zimbabwe.

Who, if anyone, has inspired you in racing?

Michelle Payne has inspired me ... she won the Melbourne Cup and I just said to myself if she can do it, why not me. She just made it look easier to be a jockey.

Who is your favorite jockey and why?

Hollie Doyle because she has good temperament and she has achieved most of the things I myself would like to achieve as well in future.
I also look up to jockeys like Pierre Strydom and Lyle Hewiston.

What are the qualities or attributes that an apprentice needs to have in order to be successful in this game?

They say no pain no gain and it is true, hardwork, determination and being respectful, listening to instructions carefully.

What race do you aspire to win, both locally and nationally?

The Durban July and the OK Grand Challenge in Zimbabwe

Internationally definitely the Melbourne Cup and Kentucky Derby

Where is your favourite racetrack?

Borrowdale Park -Zimbabwe

What would you like to see changed in racing?

I would like see more female jockeys locally.

How many winners have you had to date?

I have had 1 winner at Borrowdale Park.

Give us an example of what you have learnt about racing riding (or work riding) specific to your technique or weakness that you have worked on successfully?

I have learnt that with the right technique you can handle any horse and that balance is vital, which I practice everyday with the riding masters.

Where do you see yourself in the future in this racing industry?

I see myself being one of the world most recognised jockeys like Frankie Dettori and the likes of Hollie Doyle.

What do you think of the SAJA and the work they do for you?

Coming from Zimbabwe where the academy had collapsed, I can’t tell you how incredible SAJA is! They have been instrumental in my career even though I’ve only been there for a short time!! It’s been a real privilege to work with them and I’m so grateful for everyone who helped me get here.

Can you tell us about your feelings regarding your upcoming ride on Magari this Sunday for Garth Puller ?

I feel excited and I can't wait for Sunday , I'm going to give it my best also I can't thank Mr Puller enough for giving me this opportunity.

How do you think the horse racing industry can attract more female interest in terms of a long term career?

I guess involving more women in the sport in every rank that includes more women in training and grooming as well....Going into schools and telling the kids about jockeys as well may help.

What advice would give a someone keen in getting involved in becoming an apprentice?

I would say go for it and never look back! It’s hard work but it’s incredibly thrilling!

Lastly I would like to thank all the people that have been supporting me , and all the women out there that always give me heads up , encouraging and inspiring me.
Just to mention a few.

My foster parents
(Perseverance Ganga and Joyce Zaranyika)
Kylie Bonthrone
The whole team at SAJA
All the Trainers


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