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The final Hollywoodbets Western Province Groom School class of 2023 were proudly capped at a graduation ceremony at the Milnerton Training Centre on Monday.

The Hollywoodbets Western Cape Regional team, including Ryan van Wyk and Jackson Masengesho, were in attendance, together with Cape Racing’s Teresa Esplin, and acknowledged the remarkable success achieved by former professional jockey turned Riding Master Craig du Plooy.

The programme, which is supported by Hollywoodbets and Cape Racing, is aimed at upskilling and improving the performance of an important sector of the racing industry.

The skills taught by the enthusiastic Craig du Plooy are designed to enable qualifying students to become qualified work riders’, and thus able to play their part in an important support role to trainers. The certification programme focuses on equine education and drills to improve riding technique, whilst also building physical stamina.

A proud Craig du Plooy told the Sporting Post that it was always a special moment when students that had sacrificed time and effort in pursuit of personal betterment, while still working full-time, had graduated, thus creating the personal foundation to enrich their skill set and contribution to the racing ecosystem.

“Ten students received their certification today. Six are race-rider qualified, while the balance received the ‘C’ certification, meaning that they are now qualified to work ride, and have been coached to interpret and disseminate constructive information and provide a subjective assessment of performance, to the trainer. They are a really good group of committed individuals, and racing can only benefit through their contribution,” he added.

On Saturday, 53 year old veteran Workrider William Bambiso took an early lead in the Hollywoodbets Work Riders’ Series when he booted Escarpment home for the Piet Botha yard.

An interesting student in Monday’s graduation class was his 25 year old half-brother, Bonani Bambiso, who received his ‘B’ certification, but is unlikely to race ride in view of his weight.

“Bonani works for Greg Ennion and is really and truly the most beautifully balanced rider, and a proper horseman. But he is a strapping guy and weighs around 70kgs, so unlikely ever to race ride. Full marks to him for keeping up the proud family tradition and completing the course. He is happy and says he has learnt a lot!” said the pleased Riding Master.

Another interesting student on Monday’s graduation honour roll was Xavier Machaieie, who had passed the course earlier this year, and had his first race ride on Saturday at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth.

He rode a nicely judged race on Gareth van Zyl’s Riverstone, who flew up late for second behind Escarpment. Xavier’s first winner should not be long in coming!

The graduates, with their certification status shown are:

  • Zwelekhaya (Joe) Tshaka – B
  • Lulama Jevu – B
  • Siphumzi Maqelana – B
  • Bonani Bambiso – B
  • Xavier Castigo Machaieie – B
  • Khanyisile Mahesi – B
  • Kamva Sitshevu – C
  • Lihle Mpukane – C
  • Simbusile Tshemese – C
  • Ndilekile Faca – C

The balance of the three races in the Hollywoodbets Workriders’ Series will be held at the race meetings at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth on 20 January and 5 February, and concluding on 17 February.

The grand prize of R25 000 will be shared amongst the top five riders on the final log. On top of this, they also earn the standard riding commissions.

The R25 000 prize pool will be allocated as follows:

  • Winner earns R12 000
  • Runner-up earns R6 000
  • Third place earns R4 000
  • Fourth place earns R2 000
  • Fifth place earns R1 000