Lyle Hewitson is closing in on 200 winners for the season with a winner at Greyville yesterday taking his total to 191. He’s currently 53 winners ahead of defending champion Warren Kennedy and some bookmakers have even paid out early on Hewitson being crowned national jockeys champion for a third time.
Hewitson is still only 23, but the Kuda sponsored rider has been relentless in his search for success. He won his first South African jockeys title in 2017/18 at the age of 20, when he booted home 184 winners and became the first apprentice since Michael Roberts in 1972-73 to achieve the feat. He followed up by winning his second national championship, this time with 219 wins and now he’s sandwiched between both previous title winning campaigns as he goes about the inevitable process of being crowned for a third time.
“Before the season started I had no specific target in mind, But as it has developed I started to aim towards 200 winners as a target. Now that I’m getting close, I’m thinking that I’ll just try to ride as many winners as possible,” he said.
There are many in the industry who feel that the young jockey is getting better and better as time goes on.
“It’s hard to say whether or not I’m riding better than ever,” he concedes, “but more so I think that I’m riding with a clearer mind and there’s a sharper edge to my riding.”
He is one of six riders to have surpassed 100 winners this campaign, with the others being Kennedy (138), Smanga Khumalo (123), Greg Cheyne (119), Muzi Yeni (107) and Anton Marcus (103).
“This season I have thoroughly enjoyed certain winners for obvious reasons such as my Dad’s (Carl) first winner when I was aboard Set The Date, riding Shampompo Shampizi because of the Rugby World Cup connection behind it at, Paisley Park in the Secretariat Stakes, Sweet Future in the maidens, Eden Roc, Ecstatic Green in the Grade 2, Slalom Queen, the nineyear-old Mombela in the Grade 2, Seehaam, Tropic Sun and so on.
“All of them I have enjoyed for different reasons but they felt great and it was an honour to bring them home. I’m sure I could keep the list going, but those are the winners who spring to mind this season who I have enjoyed celebrating.” With the KwaZulu-Natal season right upon us and some mouth-watering rivalries and races set to unfold, Hewitson shares the excitement.
“I’m really looking forward to bagging some big races this KZN season, There looks to be an exciting few months ahead of us with the quality of racehorse that we have around!”