Muzi Yeni was a mid-table jockey when having his first ride in the Vodacom Durban July in 2009, but just two years later finished third on the National Jockeys log and rode for his country. He had also become known for his big match temperament.
Yeni has become a fine role model for aspirant young sportsman with his professional approach, fierce determination and incredible work ethic, while trainers often comment on his old fashioned manners and amiable personality that make him a pleasure to work with.
He proved his big match temperament in his first July ride, booting home the 70-1 shot Thundering Jet to an unlikely fourth place.
The following year he rode the 16-1 shot Happy Valley into fifth place in a strong field.
Then came his first ever Grade 1 winner on 30 April 2011, when showing impeccable pace judgement and timing to get the Joe Soma-trained Happy Landing up in the R2 million Champions Challenge over 2000m at Turffontein.
Soma said after the win, “I have been a great believer in Muzi since his apprentice days and rated him as the next Weichong Marwing. He has such a beautiful seat. We tried Muzi on Happy Landing in the Drum Star and they clicked. He gave me excellent feedback. He is just a very good rider and has a good head on his shoulders.”
It is not only talent, but also sheer hard work, which has enabled Yeni to rise to where he is today.
He only rode 75 winners as an apprentice and in his first season out of the academy had 36 winners. He rose to 57 winners the next season and 97 in the 2009/2010 season.
He then broke into the top in the 2010/2011 season, finishing third on the national log with 133 winners.
He is now firmly entrenched as a top echelon rider in South Africa.
He has been able to endure a punishing schedule year after year, which sees him riding in three, or even four, different centres every week. In most of the last few seasons he has had more rides than any other jockey. He has ridden over 100 winners for the past six seasons consecutively. His 166 last season was his best.
Yeni’s second Gr 1 winner was aboard the Greg Ennion-trained Master Plan in the 2012 Champions Cup over 1800m at Greyville.
In May 2014 he rode the brilliant Mike de Kock-trained sprinting filly Alboran Sea to victory in the Gr 1 Allan Robertson, a race for two-year-old fillies over 1200m at Scottsville.
Last year on August 1 he rode the Duncan Howells-trained Lauderdale to victory in the Gr 1 Thekwini Stakes for two-year-old fillies over 1600m at Greyville.
Muzi was born on December 6, 1986, and was born and brought up in Claremont in Durban.
His father felt he could be a jockey and that sparked his interest. His father through his support behind his career.
His fellow apprentices were Keanen Steyn, Raymond Danielson, Richard Fourie and Gavin Lerena.
Nathan Kotzen, assistant trainer to Mike de Kock, took a particular interest in him and introduced him to the champion trainer.
Hence his first winner was aboard Storm King for Mike de Kock. It was over 2400m at Clairwood and it was the 12th ride of his career.
Despite being a KZN man, his chief support over the years, however, would come from Port Elizabeth and Kimberley yards and hence his willingness to travel.
However, these days he commands rides wherever he goes and is a regular in the big Gr 1s.
In fact he has been declared to ride the ruling second favourite for the forthcoming Gr 1 Sansui Summer Cup, Samurai Blade.
Muzi is also a regular in the South African Jockeys International team.
Muzi is currently lying in 6th place on the National log on 40 winners, 17 behind the side-lined leader Andrew Fortune.
He is married to Kim they have a daughter Linda. Kim also has a daughter Amu.