South African ex-pat trainer Dylan Cunha kicked off his turf season with a win when Expressionless stormed past long-time leader Macho Sun to win the Join Racing TV Now Classified Stakes on Wednesday 5th April at Nottingham’s season opener.
Having moved to the UK in 2020 from South Africa, this was both Cunha’s first trip to Nottingham, along with fellow South African ex-pat jockey Kyle Strydom’s first ride at the East Midlands track.
“I started training in the UK in March 2021,” Cunha commented, “We haven’t had many turf runners since then, and we’ve only had two all-weather winners, so it’s great to see Expressionless get his head in front. I trained for a few years in South Africa, had a Grade 1 winner, and a few other Graded winners.
“I bought this horse (Expressionless) as a yearling with my dad, he does all our pedigree analytics, and he was only about five grand. He’s not the easiest to train, but Kyle (Strydom), came over from South Africa, rode him, and got him going last year.
“He wasn’t putting it in last year, but I’ve given him a winter break and he’s come out today and shown us what we’ve always thought he was capable of. I’m looking forward to stepping him up in trip now, I think the further he goes, the better he’ll be. Hopefully, he’ll be a fun horse for the connections.
“We’ve got 18 horses now, but have space for 40, so that’s our early ambition is to get up to that number. It’s great to have Saturday horses and have some fun in the bigger Festivals throughout the summer, but I also want to get to the end of the year and have some quality. I’d like to get some good yearlings and keep pushing and looking at the future.”
On jockey Kyle Stydom, Cunha added, “Kyle was Champion Apprentice in South Africa in 2021, he’s from a top-class racing family, his uncle is Piere Sytrdom, who’s ridden over 5,500 winners. His dad’s a trainer, his grandfather was a trainer, and he’s a talented kid. He’s ridden two horses for me since he came over, a fourth and a winner, so we’re off to a good start.”