Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mighty Mouse Grieving for Zimbabwe

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mighty Mouse Grieving for Zimbabwe

Article excerpt

Byline: TONY SMURTHWAITE

MICHAEL ROBERTS has seen the view from the top and he has seen the view from the bottom, but a window on a foreign field called Zimbabwe is what troubles him now.

This polite and amenable jockey has been watching the news with a heart as heavy as his trophy cabinet when he should have been looking forward to a reunion with the doughty Ravenswood in Europe's richest staying handicap, the [pound]135,000 Tote Ebor in York on Wednesday.

Those magnetic, frustrating and tragic images of white farmers and black politicians once again in the news has an especially interested follower in the South African ex-pat, whose 1,000-acre holding in Durban has pitched him into that otherworldly maelstrom at a time when he should be relishing the future.

The tale of Mouse Roberts is a roller-coaster epic of its own.

From the majesty of 11 riding titles in South Africa to his solitary yet remarkable crowning in England nine years ago and now relative oblivion, he has become a rider still in demand.

Yet he is prepared to speak out at the fickleness of trainers who ignore his talents and magnify the bias of owners for the coterie of riders in vogue.

Typical is it that his 'big horse' this year, Royal Ascot winner Cassandra Go, had to be retired because of pregnancy. Victory followed on another filly, Good Girl, in the Super Sprint at Newbury and a fresh spell in the public eye would be suited to no better ambassador. He is a diminutive caresser of horses used by 71 trainers this season and who, at 47, has hinted for perhaps the first time that when his playing days are spent the departure for his homeland may not be a foregone conclusion.

"Waiting on news from Zimbabwe," he says, the accent of his upbringing still firm, "it doesn't look good".

"You can't live there with the crime back home as it is and the way the problems are affecting the farmers. I'm saddened particularly by the rest of the world as they've not done anything, only watch a lovely country like Zimbabwe going down the tubes. …

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