Young Muzi lives large as a jockey
MUZI Yeni is in a class of his own as one of the few black jockeys racing professionally in South Africa.
Yeni, 22, says he is enjoying the finer things in life, such as having his own place in what he calls a decent suburb in Pinetown, outside Durban.
He owns his dream car and is basically living life to the fullest. Yeni was brought up by his grandparents in nearby Clermont township.
He is revered for making KwaZulu-Natal proud by becoming the second-best black jockey in the country. He is rated 25th countrywide.
Though he went to the best schools he says he is where he is through skills that he refined during the five-year professional jockey course he attended. He started horse racing at the age of 15.
His father saw an advert in the local paper inviting young black boys to join a training programme for jockeys.
"My father believed that I had all the correct physical attributes for a jockey. The advert specified that interested persons had to weigh between 30kg and 40kg and be aged between 15 and 16.
"He believed that I would make a successful career in horse racing as a jockey," Yeni said proudly.
He said he was very impressive during his interview, which resulted in him being awarded a scholarship. He was accepted into the SA Jockey Association in 2002 for a five-year apprenticeship.
Under the stewardship of successful trainers Vincent Curtis and Paul Gadsby he fast became a successful horseman and started riding competitively at racecourses in 2005.
Asked about his first race and the first horse he rode in a race, Yeni laughed loudly and described it as a day that changed his life.
He said the exhilaration and pride he felt that day had inspired him to work towards becoming a successful jockey.
In August 2007 he officially became a professional jockey and a freelance rider for various stables.