Ken Nicol: Bernard Fayd’Herbe has been riding a wave of success in recent weeks, with no less than 25 winners since 1 May.
That was highlighted at Kenilworth on Saturday, where he recorded a five-timer, including both Grade 3 juvenile features on Cousin Liz and Armando.
He currently sits on 69 wins for the season, and lies fourth on the log in terms of winning percentages with a very respectable 20.4% success rate.
Not bad considering he was away in Dubai from February to April. .
“I’m freelance, and am very grateful for all the support I’m getting from a lot of trainers. But I am riding a lot for Candice (Bass-Robinson), and we’ve enjoyed a very good last couple of months.
“She has a lot of classy youngsters, and it’s a good place to be. I really appreciate her support, particularly in the Graded races.
“In PE I’m mainly riding second choice to Greg Cheyne for Alan Greeff, but he has a very strong stable and plenty of opportunities present themselves. He’s a very fair man.”
Indeed this Friday is a case in point. Cheyne rides Brandina and Fayd’Herbe Luna Wish in the Listed Lady’s Slipper, and they were priced up joint 5-2 favourites in opening betting.
He also takes clear favourite Ovidio for Justin Snaith in the Listed PE Gold Cup over 3600m, South Africa’s longest horse race. So another feature double could be on the cards.
“He’s eight now, but his last run was very encouraging, and a repeat would give him a big chance.”
The great Pocket Power still stands out.
“Overall he’s the best I have ridden by a long way, and his fourth, record-breaking Queen’s Plate win is something I will always remember’’.
The forceful heavyweight and grandson of the great Tiger Wright was born in Durban in 1981, but his father was from Madagascar, and when he was seven the family emigrated there. As in the case of many another jockey, fate then took a hand.
“They tried to start professional racing on the island, and I rode in a few amateur races. Neil Bruss was training there and said I had what it takes. My mom insisted I should give it a real go, and he then arranged for me to enter the jockeys’ academy. At that stage I wanted to be a farmer, and if I’d known I was signing up for five years of boarding school I would never have gone!’’ is how he remembers this life-changing event.
The year he entered the academy was rather a lean one talentwise, with only Lukas Bester is still in the professional ranks. Nadine Rapson did enjoy success in Port Elizabeth, but was forced to retire due to injury a few years back, and now presents for TellyTrack.
Vince Curtis was riding master at the time, and helped with his early development, as did the late trainer Michael Roberts. As Bernard recollects: “he took me under his wing, and told me months in advance that he would make sure my first ride was a winner. It was Dollar Deal in April 1997, and won by almost two lengths. Three days later I was second on the same horse, and was on my way’’.
Looking at the historical record, Dollar Deal carried 46kg, but by the time Bernard came out of the academy he weighed out at 54kg, and now only takes mounts of 58kg or more.
But for which he may well have been champion jockey on more than one occasion. As it is he is closing in on 1600 career wins, including 38 at Grade 1 level.
He moved to Cape Town at the end of 2000, and has had a connection with the Snaith yard virtually ever since. “I rode Justin’s first-ever Grade 1 winner, Lyrical Linda, at Greyville in 2005, and we shared a flat for a while in the early days,’’ are how he recollects the genesis of their partnership.
Now-retired Mike Bass is another who lent plenty of support over the years, and provided Bernard’s opening Grade 1 victory, when Eli’s Game won the 2003 Cape Flying Championship. This connection has continued to a new generation, and few will ever forget his ride of the season to win the Vodacom July in 2017 on Marinaresco for Candice Bass-Robinson.
In terms of professional ambitions, Bernard’s aim is simple.
“I want to win as many Grade 1s as possible. My dream is to win one of the big international ones, with the Melbourne Cup and Prix de l’Arc De Triomphe at the top of my wish list.
“At the moment I have no plans to travel next season, so will aim for starters to get to 100 winners in 2019-20.”
Like virtually all successful men, Bernard has a good woman at his side, and has been in a committed relationship with Roxy Joubert for the past five years.