where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2021-10-01 08:29:54  
Striker on the Mend

HOPEFULLY racing fans will see the trainer-jockey-combination of the Strydom-brothers in action at Fairview again, writes Henk Steenkamp.

One of South Africa’s greatest jockeys, Pieré Strydom, included a visit to Fairview in his plans before retiring.

These plans are now on hold due to Striker’s problems with the retina in his right eye.

He will know more about the way forward when he visits the specialist on Monday again.

“I have been out of action for six months now. The risk is that I can lose my sight if I get a bump.

“I have to make a decision if it is worth the risk at this stage of my career,” adding that he is still experiencing lightning flashes in his eye.

It was in 2009 when Pieré won the Algoa Cup at Fairview with Surfin’ USA, trained by his brother Jacques.

“As kids Jacques and I talked about winning the Algoa Cup, the biggest race in the East Cape,” the 55-year-old Pieré said.
“To come together as jockey and trainer to do it was very special.

“It is like winning big races for owners with whom you have a good relationship, as with Coenie Strydom and JJ The Jet Plane, and when your own family is involved, it is even more special.

“I remember when I was still an apprentice and I won with Make A Move, a horse that my mom (Tilly) owned.”

Striker was at his brilliant best with Surfin’ USA. He had his horse in a good position in the Fairview straight, but when he went for home he was challenged by Bill Of Rights, with Karl Neisius in the saddle.

Surfin’ USA got to the winning post first but Neisius lodged an objection on the grounds of intimidation in the latter stages of the race. That was overruled and the result stood.

“I didn’t think there was enough for the objection to be upheld, but yes, I was a little bit worried because the decision was out of our hands.”

When Jacques was recently asked about that Algoa Cup win, he described the race as “a photo finish, a real nail biter.”
“I told Pieré I am not asking for many favours but I asked him to ride Surfin’ USA in that race. Luckily things went our way.”
Jacques’s son, Kyle, is the current South African champion apprentice jockey and Pieré says he is always ready to help the young man with a little bit of advice.

“If I compare him to me at the same stage of my career, Kyle is much better off.

“In my first three years of riding I was told I had a lot of potential but didn’t get many chances to show what I could do. It was only in my fourth, fifth year that I started to make my mark.

“Now and again Kyle will phone me. He is always welcome to ask for advice but it is more Jacques that would ask about what Kyle can do on a new track or if he must be more patient in a race or something like that.”

With Dad Hekkie a Fairview trainer like Jacques, one hopes things work out for Striker, because a Fairview appearance riding for the respective Strydom stables, would be a fitting occasion before the end of an illustrious career.

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