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Richard Fourie: Star of the Week

28 year old professional South African jockey, RICHARD FOURIE has progressed rapidly in his career under the guidance of some legendary mentors. He began his apprenticeship just over 12 years ago and has amassed around 700 winners during that time, including 8 Grade 1 winners. His best finishing position on the National jockey’s log was a creditable 5th with 124 winners during the 2011/2012 season. He has been associated with some great horses such as South Africa’s highest stake earner Jay Peg, Dancer’s Daughter and Gimmethegreenlight, the latter being the only horse to have lowered the colours of dual Horse of the Year and champion miler Variety Club. Richard has recently returned from a satisfactory stint in Hong Kong where he bagged 34 winners, including a Grade 2 victory. He has now secured the most sought after job in racing, and is the stable jockey to the powerful Justin Snaith yard in both Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Of course last season, Snaith racing broke the all-time South African record of most wins in a season. Fourie has firmly set his sights on winning the Klawervlei sponsored South African jockey’s championship and currently lies in 3rd position with 46 winners and an 18% win strike rate. Richard is fully booked in 3 provinces this weekend, the highlight of course being his trip up to Gauteng to partner the Geoff Woodruff trained KILLUA CASTLE in Saturday’s R2 million Grade 1 Sansui Summer Cup to be run over 2000m at Turffontein. WINNING FORM, SPORTING POST and HOLLYWOODBETS.NET and all its readers will be following Richard closely over the weekend.

What is your name?
Richard David Fourie.

What is your star sign and birthdate?
I am a Sagittarius and my birthdate is on the 25th November 1985.

Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Carletonville and lived in Boksburg. Later on we moved to a small town, Daleside, which isn’t far from the Vaal Racecourse.

Where do you live?
I now live in Cape Town, the best place in the world.

Tell us about your family?
I am very blessed to have a lovely family. My wife Tatum is my biggest supporter and my two daughters Mia (5) and Bella (18 months), the joys in my life.

Do you have a ‘nickname’?
I have a few, lol. The most used one is ‘Dutchy.’

Favourite food?
Sushi and a good steak.

Favourite drink?
Pine Nut cold drink.

Favourite music?
A little bit of everything, depending on the mood.

Favourite sport?

Favourite soccer team?
Locally, Bidvest Wits, and overseas, Man United.

Favourite holiday destination? 

Who is your favourite author?
I am not much of a reader and what I read is mostly connected to racing-form books!

Which characteristic about yourself do you like the most?
I am hard working and generous.

Is there anything the public don’t know about Richard Fourie that they would be interested to know?
Not really I am an open book, I am who I am.

Where did you go to school?
I went to a few schools in my time but the ones I enjoyed the most were the boarding school in Roosenekal Primary and obviously high school, Dr Malan.

What tertiary education did you attain?
I have SA Jockeys Academy Grade 12.

How did you become involved in horseracing?
Through a very good family friend, Corrie Jooste, who, at the time, owned a race horse and had been going to the races from a young age. He saw I had the credentials to become a jockey.

In which year did you become an apprentice, where were you based and who were your fellow apprentices at the academy?
I joined the SAJA in 2001 in Durban.  My fellow colleagues who are still riding were Raymond Danielson, Muzi Yeni, Keanan Steyn and Gavin Lerena. 2001 was a great year.

Tell us about the lifestyle at the academy and what were the obstacles that you faced?
The academy is a wonderful place to grow and there is so much to learn. For me the biggest obstacle was leaving home to join the academy. Those days were a lot different to the way things are now.

Who were your riding masters at the time? 
My riding masters were Mr Gadsby and, my favourite, Mr Vincent Curtis who now lives in Cape Town and is a very close friend and a mentor.

Which senior people in racing had a major influence on you during your apprentice days?
The list is very long. If I wanted to know something I would ask everyone. For me the one person who had a major influence on me would have to be the late Peter Dillon. He gave me a lot of advice and made me a better rider at a very young age.

Which senior jockey did you idolize growing up?
Weichong Marwing.

Tell us about your first winner?
It is unforgettable, Groovy Baby for Mr Dennis Bosch. She was my fifth ride as an apprentice and I sat last in the race at Scottsville over 1700m. I came into the straight and carved through the field to win by 2 lengths.

Which trainers gave you the most opportunities during your early days? 
Tony Rivalland, Doug Campbell, Corinne Bestel, Dennis Drier and Michael Miller. I was fortunate to have so much support.

Mention some of the top quality horses that you were associated with during you apprentice days?
I rode Jay Peg as a young horse and Badger’s Gift who rewarded me with my first Grade 1 success. I also rode Dancers Daughter and Gimmethegreenlight.

How tough was it to make the transition to becoming a qualified jockey without any allowance?
Not tough at all. I lost my allowance in the first year of race riding.

Upon qualifying as a jockey, where were you based and which trainer’s supported you?
Based in Cape Town I have had big support from Justin Snaith and Basil Marcus.

You have recently just come back from Hong Kong. How did it come about that you went to ride in Hong Kong?
It actually started when I qualified as a professional jockey. At the time my racing manager, Gavin Hunter, who was previously a stipendiary steward, sent out my CV to Hong Kong. They offered me the opportunity to ride there for a season and I gladly accepted the invitation.

Tell us about the lifestyle in Hong Kong?
It is very fast and it is always busy.

Tell us about the horseracing compared to South Africa?
The atmosphere is indescribable. You must actually go there and experience it first-hand.

Who were the trainers that you rode for and which were some of the better horses that you rode?
I had a lot of success for SA trainer Tony Millard and locally Andy Leung, but I tried to ride for as many other trainers as I possibly could.

Tell us about your achievements in Hong Kong?
I had 34 winners and I won a Grade 2 race, the Premier Bowl, on a South African horse Cerise Cherry. I finished 2nd in the International Grade 1 against Japan’s Champion Lord Kanaloa.

Why did you come back to South Africa?
There is no place like home. I felt I needed to come home. I will go back again when the time is right.

The Cape season is about to get into full swing. From the horses you have ridden and worked, which ones do you think will be worth following?
Three horses which I would like to be associated with are Legislate (Guineas prospect), In The Fast Lane and Highly Decorated.

The Fillies Guineas is just around the corner. Have you secured yourself a ride in the race?
Yes, I have. I am riding In The Fast Lane.

If you had a choice of which horse you would like to ride during the season, who would it be?

At this stage do you have any idea which will be your main rivals to win the Queen’s Plate and Met?
Jackson will probably be the favourite.

Now that you are stable jockey for Justin Snaith, have you set your sights on the South African jockey’s title with the big prize that Klawervlei is putting up?
Yes, I am going for the title. I am not too far off the leaders and with the support I am getting I am sure I will be in the first 3.

What does a typical day in your life look like?
I go to work at 5:40 am and get home at 9:30. I then do things that need to be done. No particular routine but I am always busy.

How many times a week do you ride work?
4 days a week.

Do you and Justin have a particular day in the week when you discuss plans for the runners?
Not necessarily. Snaith Racing is run on a tight rein and everything is planned in advance, horses are placed well and track work is controlled.

When it comes to racing, is Justin specific about how you should ride the horse or is it left very much to you?
I get to ride my own races most of the time but, on occasion, Justin would like to change tactics in order to improve the horse’s racing ways.

The Snaith stable is highly organized. How much input do you have as to where the horses should run?
When I am asked about a specific horse, getting close to a race, I will comment. Otherwise it is organized and well planned out.

At this stage how many winners have you ridden in all countries?
It is close to 700, if not more. I am not sure.

How many Group 1 winners have you ridden?

Which feature races have you won?
I have won the Paddock Stakes, the eThekwini Fillies, Gold Cup, Daily News and Fillies Guineas.

Tell us about some of the successes you have had?
I won the Eastern Cape Jockeys Championship in 2011/2012 with 47 wins. I won the Western Cape jockeys championship in 2007/2008 with 113 winners.

What is the highest position you have finished on the National log? 
In the 2011-12 season I finished 5th with 124 wins.

Which major feature races have you won in South Africa?
I won the 2009 Gold Cup, run over the Greyville 3 200m, on Mokaro.

What has been your best finishing position in the July and the Met?
I have finished 5th in the July and 2nd in the Met.

Riding work and races obviously keeps you very fit. Do you do anything extra to keep you super fit?
Yes, I go to Virgin Active to top up my fitness levels.

You are a professional jockey and make your living by it but what else keeps you passionate about being a jockey?
Riding horses for a living and getting up every morning to do so makes me happy.

As a young man, what is the first thing that comes to mind when you wake up in the morning to go to ride work?
Put the kettle on for a cup of coffee.

What short/long term ambitions do you have for yourself?
To win the SA Jockeys Title and to ride in Japan.

You have 5 rides on Summer Cup day at Turffontein this Saturday. How do you rate them?
I have not ridden any recently but this is how I see my chances.

Race 3: CHOIR MAIDEN (8) – She has form and a good draw. I am expecting a good run.

Race 5: WILD ASH (13) – She has just won her maiden but comes from a strong stable and she could improve.

Race 6: GOLDEN HIGH (13) – This a strong race and the best I can hope for is a place.

Race 10: SPITFIRE RUN (9) – I rode him as a young horse so he is not completely unknown to me. I give him a shout.

In the big race you ride the Geoff Woodruff trained KILLUA CASTLE. What chance do you give yourself?
His preparation has gone exceptionally well and in trainer Mr. Woodruff’s opinion he will be one of the fittest horses in the race. The only small doubt about him is the trip but, according to Mr. Woodruff, he is such a laid back horse that there should be no problem with the trip. All in all he has a big win chance.

You have a busy weekend ahead of you as you ride at Fairview on Friday and Kenilworth on Sunday. What is your best ride in each of the meetings?

Fairview: Race 7: OTTIMO (3) – I give him a big chance. He is very fit and well and he runs well over this c&d. He is a really good ride.

Kenilworth: Race 6: JOHNNY ROCKETS (3) – I give him an outstanding chance. He loves the trip and ran a very good second last time. He is in with a big shout.

You are relatively newly married with a young family. How involved are they in the actual riding and racing of your life? 
My wife is my biggest supporter and she understands the racing industry due to her family Glen, Christopher and Garth Puller all being very involved in racing. She knows the pressure that comes with it and she helps me through it all the time. As for my baby girls, they enjoy watching me ride and they shout me home the last 400m of a race.

Does the old maxim, “Behind every successful man is an equally successful woman,” apply to Richard Fourie?
Definitely, Yes!!!  Tatum is my everything and I love my family very much for supporting me.

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