Bartie Leisher The People’s Jockey

By Robyn Louw

Page 832 of Volume 75 of the South African Racing Calendar lists the last two races of the Bloemfontein card for 1 January 1978. While the results lie buried the mists of time, their significance to the South African industry – and the jockey ranks in particular – cannot be overestimated, because the name in the rider column is B.J. Leisher.

Bartie may not have had a very long racing career, but as they say ‘You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough’ and Bartie packed an incredible amount into his 23 years of race riding. In addition to his Springbok colours and his feature race triumphs, the accolade that belongs to him and to him alone is the fact that he is the first South African jockey to win a championship outside South Africa. His achievement served to put South Africa on the map and wedge the door to the world stage firmly open.

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