The Citizen (KZN)

Piet Botha back in the saddle

- Mark van Deventer

Founder of the Virgin empire, Richard Branson believes in giving managers and staff multiple chances. He felt fortunate to have benefitted from being gifted many opportunit­ies to redeem himself, so has passed on that forgiving philosophy to encourage growth and bold performanc­e among staff.

In the same vein, Cape-based jockey Piet Botha is all set to make an unlikely return to the saddle, saying, “I’m exceptiona­lly lucky, to have been given a second chance in life.”

His riding career was seemingly over in 2010 due to serious injury, with doctors giving him a slim 5% chance of ever riding again, yet he has made an inspiring comeback and was granted an official license last Friday.

Falls that caused pain and numbness in his upper body forced Botha to stop.

“It turned out I had broken my first rib and callouses formed around it, causing nerve damage. Then, when my rib was surgically cut out, still more damage was done. It has taken loads of rehab and time to come right. Iam thrilled to be able to ride horses again, though it will take actual race-riding to get properly fit," the 40-yer-old Botha explained.

Before the career hiatus, Botha rode mainly in the Cape, and won important Graded races during a stint in Mauritius.

He rode for Joey Ramsden, Dean Kannemeyer, Greg Ennion, Piet Steyn, Darryl Hodgson and Riaan van Reenen, though his most enduring gig has been with Glen Puller.

He will have his first ride this Saturday at Kenilworth.

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