The world of horse racing is a fascinating one, and behind every successful jockey, there is a story of hard work, dedication, and training. One way to enter this exciting world is through an apprenticeship as a jockey. The Hollywood Foundation met with an 18-year-old apprentice jockey Malesela “Keratile” Katjedi.
Apprenticeship jockeys are young individuals who are trained to become professional jockeys. These apprenticeships usually last for five years, during which time they learn how to ride horses professionally, care for them, and gain experience in the racing industry.
Keratile is from Naboomspruit, Limpopo in South Africa and is currently completing his fourth year of apprenticeship at the South African Jockey Academy (SAJA) in Johannesburg. From a young age, Keratile aspired to become a jockey, following in the footsteps of his late father, ‘LJ’ Katjedi who tragically died in a car accident in 2006 at the age of 26, having qualified as a jockey only eight days earlier.
Keratile was just 18-months-old then. He said that his love for horse riding was inspired by his grandfather, Amos Katjedi, who told him about SAJA when he was only ten-years-old. “I was so excited and wanted to join the academy immediately, but I didn’t qualify. I had to wait until I was 15 to meet the requirements of joining the academy. Ever since then, with every ride I embark on, it is to honor my late father,” he said.
Keratile’s greatest achievements to date was getting his White blazer recently after 50 wins. Despite being shy when meeting new people, Keratile has managed to build good relationships with trainers and owners.
He has faced challenges in his career, particularly when he first started out and did not receive much recognition. Last year, he had to miss a couple of meetings because he was writing his matric finals, which resulted in him being taken off rides that ended up winning.
Despite the challenges, apprenticeship jockeys are passionate about their profession and committed to their training. They are driven by a love of horses and the thrill of racing, and they are constantly striving to improve their skills and knowledge.
Keratile believes that hard work beats talent if talent is not hardworking. He advises other young people who aspire to become successful in their dream careers to be confident, work hard, and show respect to others.
He says the training process for apprenticeship jockeys is intense and demanding. According to Keratile, he wouldn’t be where he is without the support from the Hollywood Foundation. “The Hollywood Foundation has been instrumental in my success so far, as they have taken the financial burden of my academy fees off my grandmother’s shoulders. Winning Form is also one of my sponsors, and this has helped me grow confidence,” he said. Keratile is grateful for the support of his family, trainers, and owners, who have contributed to his success. In the future, Keratile dreams of becoming a champion South African Apprentice and then riding in group one races. He also has a goal to get into property investment. Despite the challenges he has faced, Keratile remains passionate about horse racing and continues to work hard towards achieving his goals.