Justine King winning with Royal Cavalier

First a thumb injury kept her on the side lines at the beginning of the year and then no action during the Covid-19 lockdown.

No wonder Port Elizabeth based female jockey Justine King was ecstatic to rode a winner recently on the Fairview Polytrack, writes Henk Steenkamp.

“I am glad I rode that winner. It has been ages,” King said.

She won a Novice Plate over 1000m two weeks ago on the 6y old gelding Royal Cavalier for trainer Hekkie Strydom.

“Hekkie just told me to go and have fun in the race. There was no pressure and I knew I just had to ride the horse to the best of its ability.”

In that race a horse broke down but luckily for King it happened behind her back.

“I never saw it as I was already in front at the top of the straight. At the winning post everyone was talking about the incident.”

Ironically it was the Covid-19 travel restrictions that gave the PE based jockeys many more opportunities to show their worth in the absence of the visiting out of town riders.

“The situation helped many PE jockeys. We showed what we can do if we get the opportunities.

“The trainers are bringing jockeys to come and ride at Fairview again now but will hopefully not forget about us.

“We all had a fair share of winners. I rode a winner now, so hopefully more rides will come my way.

“If there was a mindset that the PE jockeys can’t do the job it was proven wrong.

“I will keep on working hard. I am there every morning to ride work.”

There are not many female jockeys around, something King would love to see change.

“Not enough female riders are joining the industry. Women need the opportunities, even if we are not as strong as the men.

“When you are given chances with good horses, your riding will improve and it lifts your confidence.”

King strength is riding with soft hands but feels her naturally light weight (around 42kg) doesn’t help her when it comes to the strong horses.

“Certain horses I can’t control. I am not strong enough. I don’t have the power like the men.

“My fear is strong horses but temperamental horses are not a problem for me.

“I am not going to put my life, and those of the other jockeys, in danger with a strong horse that I can’t hold in a race.

“That having said, I have won on a strong horse like Act of Supremacy. He was very strong and difficult, so it depends on the horse.

“I am just glad to be back in the swing of things and getting rides.”

King will be riding in two races for the Strydom stable at the Fairview meeting on Friday – Turkish Lira (race 4) and Humour Me (race 5).

Find Henk Steenkamp's Fairview tips on the Facebook Page Henk Se Wenk.

Image Pauline Herman


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