ENTRAÎNEUR GILBERT ROUSSET : Patience is all that one needs in racing, a déclaré Donovan Dillon

Donovan Dillon tient enfin sa première victoire au Champ de Mars. Après s’être brûlé les doigts en plusieurs occasions une semaine plus tôt, le Sud-Africain n’a pas commis d’erreur sur Top Of The Rock, un nom qu’il n’oubliera pas de sitôt. Cible préférée du public ces derniers temps, le jockey de 23 ans n’en fait pas grand cas. Il sait que dans ce domaine, la patience finit toujours par payer. « Patience is all that one needs in racing », déclare celui qui a rejoint l’Académie des jockeys en 2009. Avant de venir à Maurice, Donovan Dillon montait pour le top trainer Joey Ramsden et était principalement basé à Cape Town. La saison dernière (1 août 2016 – 31 juillet 2017), il a terminé à la 25 place au classement des jockeys avec 55 victoires en 526 montes.  

Donovan Dillon, you finally scored your first win in Mauritius. How do you explain that it took you so long to bag your first win?
I must tell you that I have never waited so long to bring a winner in my life. Even back home it took me only three rides to ride my first winner. But in racing patience is all that one needs. Now that I’ve bagged my first winner, I’m looking forward for more.

Had you not started doubting yourself?
Slight you know. Last meeting (ndlr: 18e journée) I was very confident to have at least one winner. But at the end of the day, I had four seconds. And then I started saying to myself what am I doing wrong? But I didn’t worry myself too much. I’m glad the winner came. All I want now is to carry on.

At the stable, how they viewed the fact that you were not winning?  
They are actually very nice to me, very nice people to work with. They are fully alive to the fact that it’s my first time in Mauritius and I’m very young. They were happy with the way I was riding the horses.

Were you not under a little bit of pressure?
Yes and no because my horses weren’t favourites, especially those I was riding on the previous meeting (ndlr: 18e journée). On the contrary, they were beaten by the favourites on that day. But it was nice to see Top Of The Rock come through and win on Saturday.

You are surely aware that Rousset stable is one of the most powerful stables in Mauritius. Was is not a challenge for you to come for that stable at such an early stage in your career?
No, not really because back home I was riding for big stables. I had the opportunity to ride for Mr Joey Ramsden who has a big string of horses. The season is over there and we have back up the horses. There is not much racing in Cape Town actually. At least here we can race (laughs). I thought it was the ideal time to try something for a change even it’s for a year or two. That was the first option that came up and I took it.

You had a light card on Saturday last with only three horses. What chances you gave them?
I gave all three of them a very good chance. Gharbee was a little bit disappointing. Maxamore ran very green. I didn’t expect him to run so green but it was only his second run in Mauritius. So far as Top Of The Rock, we rated him high and gave him a very good chance. We are glad that he won.

How the race went for you?
He had a dream run. On his last two starts he was drawn eight each time. This time he was drawn two. All I had to do was to wait for the home straight.

Now that you have been on the island for four weeks, in what way racing differs in Mauritius from South Africa?
It is a lot tighter and more compact here with a shorter straight. There is a lot more to take into account. Obviously it’s harder to read the races because I do not know most of the jockeys and the horses. It seems that I’m getting my hands over it now. I can study the card a lot better and knowing all the information. It’s tricky course but I’m glad I’m getting accustomed to it.

It has been said that it is top rider Bernard Fayd’herbe who recommended you to Gilbert Rousset. How far this is true?
I’m not too sure but I had a few recommendations. A few people recommended me and I feel really honoured. It’s a new step in my career, a new opportunity to go forward. I think once one leaves Mauritius, it makes him a better jockey because you learn a lot more. It improves everything in your ability.

You will be riding Scotsnog in the big race this coming week. Where he stands in respect of favourites Parachute Man and Enaad?
Look, these two horses are top stayers, good galloping horses. I knew both of them back home. I think they will be hard to beat, especially Parachute Man for what he has done since being here. As far as Scotsnog is concerned, all that we hope, is that he stays. If he stays, he will be a decent runner. He is a good horse and we are happy with his progress at trackwork.