‘STRIKER’ BECOMES FIRST JOCKEY TO RIDE 5 000 WINNERS IN SA
Published: 24 November 2014
Piere Strydom, 48, has achieved a milestone unmatched by any jockey in the history of South African horseracing – 5 000 career wins. This was achieved today at the Lazerac Ready to Run Stakes at Kenilworth in Cape Town.
“It’s always a huge compliment, but as they say in racing circles, you are only as good as your last winner,” says Strydom when asked how he feels about being described as one of South Africa’s best ever jockeys.
This achievement comes just days after Strydom helped his South African teammates to win the Racing. It’s a Rush International Jockeys Challenge. He scored 105 points out of the 547 achieved over the 2 legs this past weekend, compared to the 288 points scored by the international team.
The modest “Striker’ earned his nickname in the 1980’s when he was an apprentice jockey. Racing journalist Rob Roy noticed his ability of coming from behind to catch tiring horses on the line - and the nickname, and winning flair, has stuck ever since.
When Strydom is not racing at least three times a week, he spends a lot of time doing homework in terms of studying horses and their form. “I do believe that is a great part of my success in terms of knowing which horses are better suited to certain types of races and surfaces,” he explains.
This doesn’t leave much time to relax, but when he does, he enjoys watching TV and playing the odd round of golf. Otherwise he can be found enjoying a beer and a pizza at the restaurant he is part owner in.
His fitness is of paramount importance. “It’s a constant battle because if you don't ride in races often enough, you lose a lot of fitness, but I try to maintain a daily routine of stretching. I also try and maintain an athletic yet light framed physique,” he says.
Strydom, who was born in Port Elizabeth, down the road from Fairview Racecourse, was born into a racing family – His father Hekkie Strydom was a Jockey and is now a trainer in PE. The oldest of five siblings, Strydom went to Altona primary, and spent one year at Framesby High School before joining the South African jockey academy in Durban.
Not surprisingly, his career highlight is reaching his 5 000 career wins. Out of the 5 000 races, he says the win that stands out most was at the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Sprint, riding JJ the Jet Plane in 2010, a win he describes as magical.
Strydom says his favourite local event is the fantastic Jockeys International. When asked what he loves most about being a jockey, Strydom says: “Reaching the winning post first and knowing that I've reached the top of my career and expectations”.
He may have achieved something no other jockey in South Africa has ever done, but Strydom has no intention of retiring any time soon.
For the first time in the history of South African horseracing, a single unified brand now represents the sport. Racing. It’s a Rush was launched in August with the aim of bringing horseracing back to the forefront of the lifestyle entertainment industry in South Africa. With horseracing in South Africa now attracting even more enthusiasts, there is no doubt that Piere ‘Striker’ Strydom will win even more races, and more fans, going forward.