Interview with MJ Byleveld
Q: We hear you grew up in Limpopo cattle farming with your dad, tell us how you got involved with horses? A: I grew up on a maize farm initially and my dad then went on to work in the cattle trade, I helped a lot at the auctions with herding cattle. I was spotted by two cattle speculators that had horses in training. The late Aubrey Upton and Duggy Renz, suggested I should attend the academy and that’s was me hooked on racing!! 😂
Q: Who did you do your apprenticeship with?
A: Corne Offer, Billy Jackobson and Deni Smith. We were the last 4 of 17 that entered the academy in 1997.
Q: You raced in Durban for a long time but are now based in the Cape, tell us what brought you to the Cape?
A: I qualified as a professional jockey in 2001 and stayed in Durban where i did very well. Never one to really move when I have settled in, Glen Kotzen offered me the job and to be honest I was very hesitant about the Western Cape. The rugby must have had something to do with it, LOL. Haven’t looked back since then. I really must thank them for moving me here, moved a couple yards since then but call the Cape home now!
Q: Tell us about some of your most memorable rides and achievements?
A: I think any jockeys 1st winner is always one to be memorable! But winning The Mercury Sprint (GR1) for Mr Marshall and Garth Miller was one, The Cape Guineas on William Longsword was special, éspecially now that he is a breeding stallion and we have a hoof share in him. But, this years Sun Met takes the cake!!!! Wow what a memory!!
Q: You are back to being involved with cattle and sheep, good Afrikaans boy going back to his roots, are you looking to expand this business?
A: I’ve always loved cattle and will try be involved for as long as I can. We have a small trading business for now, maybe one day when I’m finished my racing career I can fall back on it and build it up to be something big. I’m not one to lie on the couch or play golf so it will have to expand😂.
Q: You joke that you are due for an injury every 2nd year in September, obviously all horse related, tell us about your worst one?
A: Lol yes I have some great timing, probably the best in the world. Breaking my ankle now has definitely been the most painful and longest injury I’ve had! Most frightening one was my neck though, one of my discs had pushed into my spinal cord and was close to making me a quadriplegic, had my C5 and C6 fused. I was very lucky to walk away from that.
Q: We know you are currently off injured, we wish you a speedy recovery and will be looking out for you on your next big race day.
A: Thanks Kuda for this opportunity, much appreciated. I’m sure I’ll be back in no time. No horses will keep this Dutchman down!!