Bonginkosi Nkosi: Fresh onthe heels of Lyle Hewitson’s monumental apprentice season, SouthAfrica has a brand-new youth sensation and his name is Luke Ferraris.
In his very first season he won the national apprentice jockeys’ championship and a Grade 1 race – oh and is only 17-years-old!
People take for granted how hard it actually is to win a Grade 1 in this country. To put it into perspective, Warren Kennedy broke his Grade 1 duck last season and he just turned 39.
“It is a very big achievement for me,” admitted Ferraris.
“Winning the apprentice title was a goal I set for myself long before the season started and now that it is a reality, I’m relieved. I worked really hard and I wanted to win it. It still hasn’t sunk in yet but maybe I’ll believe it when I go on stage and accept the award.”
Although he rode Miss Florida to victory in the Grade 1 Allan Robertson Championship, he thinks all that credit should go to trainer Justin Snaith.
“It is a crazy story because Mr Snaith called me to see if I’d be willing to ride work for him and then he asked how many Grade 1’s I had won. I was taken aback because this is my first season, so I said none.
“Before the call ended, he said I shouldn’t worry about it because he’d win me one before the season ended. It is amazing that this actually happened.”
At the tender age of one Ferraris’ family moved to Hong Kong in support of his father David Ferraris (trainer) and it did not take long before Luke discovered his own love for thoroughbreds.
“I have been riding horses since age four. I was a regular at the pony club,” he laughed.
“The older I got the more I progressed and understood both racing and horses – I knew what I wanted to do at that point. I must’ve come back to South Africa when I was in Grade 5.”
What was school like for a young Ferraris?
“I enjoyed school. Was I cool? I don’t know you’d have to define cool, but I played a lot of sports and made the A-team for hockey and rugby. I was actually a good kicker in rugby.
“I must admit I wasn’t any good at cricket though.”
The current trend in our country proves that every jockey wants to ride in Hong Kong. We’ve lost superstars like Grant van Niekerk, Aldo Domeyer, Callan Murray and now Hewitson.
Considering Ferraris has family in Hong Kong one would assume he would want to race there but no…
“I have always wanted to ride in South Africa because greats like Douglas Whyte, Felix Coetzee and Anthony Delpech have put out great advertisements for our racing. I simply couldn’t stay away,” he said.
“We have great jockeys who have started here and made it big overseas.
“I’m following in their footsteps and so far, I think I’m headed in the right direction.”
It is no secret that Hewitson’s opportunity has left the Tarry yard without a stable jockey. Ferraris made it very clear to me that he is more than ready for theopportunity.
“Look, what really won me the season was Mr Tarry. I’ve been very fortunate to ride for a stable as powerful as his and I don’t think I’d win the season without his support –I just don’t.
“With Lyle’s departure hopefully, I get more support. I’ll put the work in for sure. I’m working Mr Tarry’s horses in Durban and I’ll also do so when I’m in Johannesburg.”
Now that he has worked his dreams into a reality, is he under any pressure to better the last season?
“Not really, pressure is a part of the game,” he asserted. “I’ll take it one meeting at a time. I have no goals for the season as far as a set number of wins or Grade 1s. I’ll take whatever I can get.
“I do however want to retain my title next season.”