Since childhood, Hannah Sida’s passion for horses and riding has been unwavering. Born in Lima, Peru, South America, but grew up in Gauteng, Hannah has faced the trials of a family that was often separated and reunited due to various circumstances but that has not deterred her from her dream of becoming a jockey.
She vividly recalls a moment when her father asked her what she wanted to do when she grew up, to which she replied, “Something like this, Papa,” pointing to a horseracing event on TV and it was clear that her heart belonged to horses and riding, and it always will.
Her formal introduction to horse racing came through a close friend, Samantha Ryan Swanepoel, who was an assistant trainer to Garth Puller at the time. Inspired by Samantha, Hannah took her first steps riding her first “Race Horse” for Garth Puller. Her determination was clear when, after riding on the track, Puller said, “that wasn’t bad at all,” and Hannah knew she had found her calling.
In 2020, Hannah and Samantha both completed advanced, intermediate, and beginner work rider courses at the South African Jockey Academy (SAJA). It was during this time that Hannah discovered a deep love for racehorses and riding them.
Fast forward to November 2022, when she made a life-changing decision. Before the Okapi Ladies Race in January 2023, Hannah resolved to pursue a career as a jockey. It was a calling she couldn’t ignore, and her journey as a jockey-in-training began.
“It’s something I can’t go on without,” she said. Becoming a jockey is no small feat. It demands consistency, hard work, mental and emotional toughness. “The SAJA staff have been nothing but amazing to me in aiding me in any goal or injury,” she said.
Hannah aspires to become the best female jockey in South Africa, ride around the world, and participate in prestigious events like the Dubai World Cup and the Melbourne Cup. She looks up to professional jockeys like Hollie Doyle, Frankie Dettori, and Rachel Venniker as her role models.
In addition to pursuing her dreams, Hannah is committed to giving back to the community. She has been involved in outreach programmes at her church, with the SPCA and the Coastal Horse Care Unit being causes closest to her heart. One of life’s biggest lessons has been to never be arrogant and always appreciate what you have, no matter how little it may seem.
When asked about the challenges facing youth today, Hannah said, “Lack of Education, access to free education, lack of funds. And basic needs such as books, uniforms, clothes, shoes, food. Some even a family.”
Hannah’s pursuit of her dreams was furthered by a bursary application, aimed at relieving her mother of financial burdens and making her proud. The Hollywood Foundation played a pivotal role in her journey, covering her first-year tuition fees at the South African Jockey Academy. Grateful and humbled by their support, Hannah emphasises the Foundation’s role in making her feel special.
“The Hollywood Foundation have immensely helped me by paying for my tuition fees at SAJA. I am so humbled and grateful. The Hollywood Foundation has made me feel special. Thank you.”