South Africa

Fourie and Do It Again have the X-factor

2019-01-21 11:21
Richard Fourie on Do It Again (Supplied)
Richard Fourie on Do It Again (Supplied)

Cape Town - Jockey Richard Fourie has won a number of feature races in his career, but the Sun Met celebrated with G.H. MUMM is one that has eluded him.

But, he believes, that will all change on Saturday when he climbs aboard Do It Again to ride in this year’s R5 million Grade 1 race over 2 000m at Kenilworth Racecourse.

Do It Again won the Durban July last year when ridden by Anton Marcus. After that victory Do It Again was given a break and since his return in the Green Point Stakes last month, Fourie has been at the helm.

Do It Again finished third in his comeback race, beaten just 0.10 lengths by Legal Eagle, but the Justin Snaith-trained runner demonstrated his well-being with an eye-catching performance in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate where he beat the best horses in the country in what was already being tagged “The Race Of the Century”.

That was over 1 600m and there is no doubt Do It Again will be better over 2 000m. After that win he was given a merit rating of 125 by the handicappers, making him the highest rated horse in the country. As a result, bookmakers have installed him as the even-money favourite for the Sun Met.

“He has earned his rating,” says Fourie.

“He’s a very special horse and he deserves to be favourite.

“There is something about him; he has the ‘X factor’. He is forever improving, and you probably will only see the best of him when he is five years old.”

That is an astonishing statement as Do It Again won the Durban July as a three-year-old.

“For him to win the Durban July at his age was amazing. But I would have to put him as one of the three best horses I have ever ridden.”

Pressed to name the other two, Fourie added: “Legislate and Dancer’s Daughter.”

Legislate went on a feature-race roll, winning the Cape Derby, KZN Guineas, Daily News 2000 and Durban July in less than six months.

Dancer’s Daughter was the best filly in the country when she ran and even dead-heated with Pocket Power in the Durban July.

“I only rode her once. I won a C Division race on her. But she was really exceptional.”

Once the final field comes out there are always debates about barrier positions and the pace of the race.

“For me, the draw is not a concern. If I have to worry about the draw then I’m not on the right horse. I hear jockeys saying that they were hoping for a better draw but you have to play the hand you’re dealt - you got a ticket, you got a chance.

“I’m also not concerned about the pace because with Do It Again, it does not matter. He’s quite versatile and he’s easy to ride. There are only 13 runners in the field so it will probably be a very tactical race.”

So how is Do It Again doing so close to the big race?

“He’s doing alright, hey,” exclaims Fourie.

“A lot of preparation has gone into him over the past six months but what you put in, you get out later. He’s doing well at home and he’s a delight of a horse to ride. Everything has gone according to plan.”

However, Do It Again has his quirks.

“He does get worked up at the start and you do have to keep him calm. He doesn’t like standing in the starting stalls but then most horses have that problem.”

The Snaiths engaged the services of horse whisperer Malan du Toit to help school him, but Fourie remans the calming influence at the start.

That should be a matter of mere instinct for 33-year-old Fourie who has exudes tranquillity.

“I suppose it’s different for everybody, but I don’t really feel the pressure,” says Fourie.

“When you walk into the jockey room everybody is in the zone. Once the race starts your heart rate goes up to about 100 beats per minute. So the aim is to just stay focussed and clear the mind of any extraneous stuff.

“Justin and his team have done their job with the team now it’s my turn to do my job.”

Anyway, he points out, there are enough nerves coming from the owners.

“Owners are just as excited and even more nervous. Having a runner in this race is a dream come true for many of them.”

Fortunately for Fourie, the owners of Do It Again - Nic Jonsson, Bernard Kantor and Jack Mitchell - are well steeped in the world of horseracing.

“It’s easier to ride for owners who understand the game and the way everything works. They’ve been down this road and know what can go wrong.

“I think it all changes once an owner has a Group 1 winner. Those are the races everyone wants to win but there are not than many of them so it’s very hard.

“Nevertheless, there are expectations from the owners, and they expect the trainers and jockeys to produce the goods.”

Kantor was instrumental in getting the sire, Twice Over, to South Africa and Fourie points out that must add to the success of Do It Again.

“It must be unbelievable to breed and own a horse who has achieved this sort of success. He has already won two Grade 1s and could win his third on Saturday.”

Fourie says, in general, he gets to choose his rides.

“The arrangement we have is that I freelance within the Snaith yard. I don’t work for any specific owner so invariably I can get on the best one. We all work hard because Justin has a very big string of horses.

“But they have success because everything is done right. There’s a good rhythm in the yard.”

While Fourie has a ridden in Hong Kong, he has no plans to ride overseas in the near future.

“It’s a dog-eat-dog world in Hong Kong, but it was a very good experience. I learned a lot about racing and people while I rode there. But right now my kids are in school, they’re in a good space and I’m not going to change anything.”

But he does have plans for after the Sun Met.

“I’m going to try and catch a marlin. One of the best places to do that is off Cape Agulhas and that’s where I’ll be in February.”  

The Sun Met is the continent’s most prestigious social destination and equestrian affair which is headlined by Sun International where elite horse racing meets high-end fashion and top-flight entertainment.

African Luxury: Precious Metals sets the theme for the day as the Kenilworth Racecourse will transform into the city’s most glittering runway, adorned with gold, copper, and platinum colours and textures.

For more information please visit Tickets available from R150.

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