Kimberley born apprentice jockey JULIUS MARIBA is in his fifth and final year of his apprenticeship with the South African Jockey Academy. Mariba had a very slow start to his career but has raised many eyebrows with a great run of form on the Highveld, recently. He finished last season on 37 winners, which placed him 3rd on the National apprentice log. He has continued his good form this term and has already reached double figures in the first month and currently lies 7th on the National Jockey’s Log. Julius was chosen to represent South Africa in an Asian Young Guns Challenge, in New Zealand, in August and did the nation proud with a victory from his three races, thereby ensuring a joint 2nd place finish. He has struck up a fine partnership with the Mike de Kock trained filly, TAYBA, on whom he has won four in a row, the latest of those victories being his 60th and most significant South African win as he officially lost his claim. Julius Mariba is clearly a name worth following within the industry and WINNING FORM, and all its followers, wish him well in all his future endeavours.
What is your name and age?
Julius Mariba and I am 19 years old.
What is your star sign and birthdate?
My birthdate is 23rd October which makes me a Scorpio.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in a small town in the Northern Cape called Kuruman and I grew up in Kimberley.
Where do you live?
I live in Johannesburg.
Tell us about your family?
I have 2 brothers and 2 sisters and, of course, my lovely mother.
Do you have a ‘nickname’?
My friends back home called me China but now they call me Ju.
Anything except seafood.
Favourite soccer team?
Favourite holiday destination?
I would love to go to France.
Briefly discuss your school days in terms of favourite subjects?
My school days were fun and I enjoyed business studies.
As a schoolboy did you follow horseracing and did you have any favourite horses or jockeys that you followed?
Before coming to the academy I knew nothing about horseracing. I loved horses but I was scared of them.
How did your interest in horseracing come about and how did you get into the academy?
The marketing manager of the academy came to my school and I thought I should give it a try. Because I was small I thought it was worthwhile to give it a shot.
When did you start your apprenticeship?
Who were your fellow apprentices at that intake?
Jason Smitsdorff, Denise Lee, Keagan De Melo and Stallone Naidoo.
What do you remember from your first year as an apprentice?
What I remember most is the first time I got on a horse and the way I felt when I had my first gallop.
Describe a typical day at the academy?
Wake up at 4am and ride work till 10am. Then time to shower and have breakfast. By that time I must get ready to go to the races.
What year of your apprenticeship are you in?
I am in my 5th and final year.
Your current riding master is Gary Waterston. Does he discuss all the rides you have had and do you watch replays of your rides?
Yes, he is very helpful to everyone and he is always ready to help us with our riding and makes sure we keep on improving.
Once you got into the academy which senior jockey inspired you the most?
Anton Marcus and also S’manga ‘Bling’ Khumalo.
How long were you in the academy before you competed in your first race? Tell us about that first ride?
It took me years before I had my first race ride. It was very exciting and also very scary as we went very fast and it was over 1200m.
Tell us about your first winner?
It was the best feeling ever and I cannot describe it. It was aboard Sunday Monday at Scottsville for Mr. Moore.
Who were the trainers that took the most interest in you and were prepared to help you along the way?
Mr. Ivan Moore, Mr. Alistair Gordon and Mr. Paul Lafferty. I moved to Gauteng in January and Mr. Clinton Binda and Mr. Alec Laird have been very helpful to me.
How long did it take before you were confident that you could compete against the likes of Anton Marcus, Piere Strydom, Anthony Delpech, Robbie Fradd and other top jockeys?
It took a while. Sometime after my 4kg apprentice allowance came to an end I began to feel I could take on the big boys.
Which top jockeys do you admire the most in South Africa?
Anton Marcus and Piere Strydom.
Who is your favourite overseas jockey?
Which tracks have you ridden on in South Africa and which is your favourite track?
I have ridden on all the Durban and Gauteng tracks. Greyville is my favourite track.
How many winners have you ridden to date?
62, including my win in New Zealand.
How many graded or listed winners have you ridden to date?
I have won 1 listed race thus far.
|Julias riding Angie to victory at Clairwood for Gavin van Zyl|
Which stables do you ride work for?
Mostly Alec Laird and Mike de Kock.
You are getting some really good rides from various stables. Is there any chance you could, in the near future, become stable jockey to any of them?
I will see when I finish my apprenticeship.
How much of racing in South Africa and abroad do you watch?
I would say every day.
How would you describe the difference between riding on grass and riding on sand?
I would say that the big difference is the kickback as this affects some horses.
Do you have a preference between riding on sand to grass?
No. It is all the same to me.
Who do you consider to be the best horse/horses you have won on to date?
Love Struck, Tayba and Ice Machine.
A horse you are having a great run with is the De Kock trained filly TAYBA. You have now won 4 in a row on her. What do you think the future holds for her?
Her future looks bright. I am sure she has the class to win a graded race.
With the Gauteng summer season upon us which horses do you think will do really well?
Forest Indigo and Kochka.
You recently won a race in New Zealand. Tell us all about that experience?
It was a great experience and honour to represent South Africa. Also, to experience their riding tactics and their methods of racing.
What would you say is the most important thing you have learnt from that experience?
I learnt that getting a good start and placing my rides as quickly as possible was very important.
Has that trip fired up your desire to someday ride overseas?
Yes, very much so.
You and trainer Clinton Binda are having a great run. Tell us about your association with trainer Binda and is he the trainer who helps you the most right now?
Yes, Mr. Binda is giving me lots of chances and is helping me a lot.
How often do you ride work for him?
Unfortunately, Mr. Binda works on a farm and I do not ride there.
Which of his horses do you rate the highest?
Magic’s Magic and Goldstream.
How well do you think the stable can do in the coming season?
The stable has had a great start to the season and I am sure it will carry on.
How do you organize your rides? Do you book them yourself or do you have help?
I book my own rides and Mr. Waterston also helps.
What is your most memorable moment in racing thus far?
When I rode a treble at Scottsville.
Is there anything about being a jockey that you dislike?
Yes, getting suspended.
What is your ideal riding mass and do you have problems maintaining it?
It is 49kgs and I don’t have any trouble maintaining it.
You have probably noticed that many trainers and jockeys have sponsors. Are apprentices allowed to be sponsored and if so, do you have a sponsor?
Yes, we are allowed to be sponsored but I do not have a sponsor.
How important do you think it is to have a sponsor?
As yet I have never been sponsored but I would like a sponsor in the future.
Do you do anything extra to keep maximum fitness apart from riding work and races?
When I have time I run around the Polytrack and I use the Equisizer.
How good a judge are you in assessing gallops?
I am not bad and getting better.
Do you take an interest in the breeding side of the game and if so, which is your favourite stallion?
I am interested in breeding and my favourite stallion is Silvano.
If for any reason you didn’t become a jockey what would have been your alternate career option?
I would have liked to own a business.
Outside of racing do you have anything else you are passionate about?
No, racing is my passion.
Do you think racing is well-policed?
Yes, I believe it is.
As a fellow youngster what do you think can be done to entice more youth into our wonderful sport?
I think more could be spent on advertising.
Do you have a steady girlfriend or are you concentrating on your career?
I am concentrating on my career.
Is there anything you would like to add to the profile?
I would sincerely like to thank all the owners and trainers who have helped me over the last 5 years.
Gavin van Zyl