Lyle Hewitson becomes first apprentice to win South Africa title since Roberts

Lyle Hewitson has become the first since Michael Roberts in 1972-73 to win the South African jockeys’ championship when still an apprentice.

Lyle Hewitson, photo Liesl King

The 20-year-old rode 184 winners from 1,471 rides in the season to July 31 to finish 35 winners clear of Muzi Yeni and was presented with a special award at the Equus Awards Dinner in Johannesburg on Tuesday evening.

Hewitson, son of former jockey Carl Hewitson, began his race-riding career in work-riders’ races rather than as an apprentice, as his parents were adamant he should finish his schooling.

But he was an instant hit, winning on 23 of his 88 mounts. He was champion work-rider in the 2013-14 season before going to the apprentices' school.

He was runner-up for the apprentices' title in 2014/15 and champion in all three subsequent seasons. He rode his first Group 1 winner on the Brett Crawford-trained Undercover Agent in the Rising Sun Gold Challenge at Greyville in June and also scored on Redberry Lane for Sean Tarry in the Garden Province there on Durban July day.

He is renowned for his work ethic and his commitment, and in a Sporting Post interview he put this down to a “passion for racing and horses in general,” adding: “I think that is the biggest part of it all, plus I have a passion to succeed, which is probably the driving force behind everything. Also, hard work never hurt anyone and if you have got that dedication you are staring success in the eye.”