Treble Gr1-winning Gauteng jockey Diego de Gouveia is a man on a mission.
The 24 year old jets out to Mauritius today and is determined to show that he has grown in professional stature and maturity after a tough first stint on the Indian Ocean island two years ago.
Diego closed his South African season on a winning note at the Vaal on Thursday afternoon, winning the third on Bold Fortune for Stuart Pettigrew, and earning a cheque on all six of his rides on the afternoon.
Diego’s memorable double Gr1 in August 2020 – Anything Goes wins smartly (Pic -Candiese Lenferna)
Still on a high after his Gr1 Cape Derby success earlier that year, the memory of when he stepped into the Champ de Mars lion’s den to replace champion Piere Strydom in August 2019 is still fresh in his mind.
After getting off the mark in quick time at his sixth ride, two months in the hot seat and two winners later, Diego was winging his way back home to South Africa – richer for the experience, but with his dreams temporarily dented.
In 46 rides in that short stint, he rode 3 winners and 14 places.
Diego’s 2019 Mauritius icebreaker – Barrack Street beats Henry Tudor (Randall Simons) in a thriller (Pic – Mauritius Turf Club)
The Sporting Post put it to Diego that a lesser man would have probably declined an invitation to return to the island.
“I know why it didn’t work first time round. I was bit too young – too inexperienced. I have grown up – both as a person and a professional. I feel better equipped this time to handle the pressure and I wouldn’t be going back if I didn’t enjoy the culture and admire the passion for racing of the people.”
He adds that the fervent support for racing in Mauritius is similar to the way folk support teams in soccer crazy countries.
“When you do well, you are the greatest. When you don’t, they let you know exactly how they feel! And that’s how it should be, I think!”
Diego goes on to say that despite his gloriously memorable same day Gr1 double at Hollywoodbets Greyville in 2020, he was ripe for a new challenge when he got the call to ride for the Raj Ramdin yard some two months ago.
Diego De Gouveia after Sentbydestiny’s Gr1 score (Pic -Candiese Lenferna)
“I had been off for six months with an injury. And things weren’t really going particularly well. I grabbed the chance and decided to make amends and take up the challenge. I am actually quite excited and let’s face it, we can only grow and improve when tested.”
Diego is travelling with partner Hannah Sida and the couple will arrive at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport at 16h00 (SA time) this afternoon.