Jack Milner: Lyle Hewitson needs just one more winning ride to eclipse the number of victories by an apprentice. On Sunday at Greyville Hewitson equalled Gavin Lerena’s mark of 284 wins and he has so many good rides at the Vaal today it seems almost certain he will surpass that total during the meeting.
Hewitson only comes out of his apprenticeship early next year and after he won on Roy Had Enough and reached the magical 284 wins on Sunday, he said: “I’ve still got nine months to run and I intend to build up as big a lead as possible during the time.”
Hewitson had extensive work riders experience and was crowned champion before being accepted at the SA Jockey Academy after matriculating at Kearsney College and his apprenticeship was cut to three years.
He had his first ride as a fully-fledged apprentice at Scottsville on March 6, 2016 and trainers were quick to capitalise on his experience and 4kg claim. In a little over three months 60 winners were in the bag and he was in with the big boys without his apprentice claim.
It was more than 10 years ago that Lerena broke the original record set up by Michael Roberts of 260 rides but it is not a mark Roberts remembers.
“Nobody ever said to me that I held the record,” said Roberts yesterday. But he was quick to point out that he was already South Africa’s champion jockey while still an apprentice. He went on to win the championship 11 times which remains a substantial record. In joint second place on six titles each are Jeff Lloyd and Piere Strydom.
“All these records are here to be broken,” added Roberts. “Someday somebody will beat my 11 championships.
“I’ve watched Lyle from the days he rode in workrider races. He rides with his head and by the time he became an apprentice he was so much more advanced than the other apprentices.
“But his success has come as no surprise. From early on you could see he was going to make it. He’s a good kid and he has very good grounding. He will definitely be a champion jockey, that’s written all over him. He conducts himself well and he’s very presentable,” said Roberts.
While exact stats on Roberts’ performance are not available, we do know Lerena took 3,326 rides to reach his record while Nooresh Juglall, who rode 248 winners as an apprentice, took 3,237 rides. Hewitson has ridden his 284 winners in 2,783 rides.
Hewitson has seven rides carded on today’s nine-race card, all for Sean Tarry. He rides Global Exposure (10-1) in Race 1(SCRATCHED), New Zealand (12-10) in Race 2, Forafewdollarsmore (28-10) in Race 4, Wonderous Climber (4-1) in Race 5, End Game (9-2) in Race 6, Forest Express (28-10) in Race 7 and Shenanigans (14-10) in Race 8.