Shari Navra in action

Shari Navra is a 20-year old rider who trains with Anne-Marie Esslinger, another contestant at this year’s Galencia Property South African Derby. Navra has two horses, Tack ‘n Togs Aristoteles, and Tack ‘n Togs Carlotta K, who she stables at Burlington Stables. Carlotta is a young horse, imported from Germany and jumping in the 1.30m classes, and Aristoteles is a Belgium import, jumping in the 1.50m classes.

Navra has won a few competitions with Aristoteles, including the SA Junior Showjumping Championships and SA Young Riders Outdoor Grand Prix. They’ve just started jumping in the 1.50m classes this year, and have already successfully completed two World Cup qualifiers, as well as the SA Adult Showjumping Championships in Shongweni.

“I am very fortunate to be sponsored by Tack ‘n Togs, which is the Tack section of Midfeeds,” Navra says. “They supply my horses and I with all the best tack and clothing on a regular basis and I feel honored to be associated with them.”

We caught up with her one afternoon and asked her a few Derby-related questions, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the Galencia Property South African Derby.

Shari Navra and horseQ: What horse will you be riding in the Derby this year?

SN: The horse I will be riding this year is Tack ‘n Togs Aristoteles. He is a 15-year old Belgium import by the famous stallion Heartbreaker. Ari was previously owned by Lorette Knowles-Taylor and she jumped him very successfully in many of the World Cups, SA Championships and Derby classes. I acquired Ari in 2012 and our partnership has gone from strength to strength, from starting in the junior 1.30m classes to now being in the 1.50m’s. He is a horse in a million, a once in a lifetime friend and I am very lucky to be able to partner him in the arena.

Q: What are your strengths/weaknesses in terms of the course?

SN: Well this will be my first time jumping in the big Derby! So I suppose that might be my weakness, but luckily Ari has done it before so I trust him and know that he will be there to help me on the day. The course is long, and the horses need to be at their peak fitness levels. Luckily Ari is a very fit horse, generally, so with a few weeks of extra fitness training prior he should be fine.

Q: How are you preparing for the event?

SN: As I said, extra fitness training is very important for the horses and well as the riders. Luckily my coach Anne-Marie, is very experienced, and she will also be riding her two horses in the Derby. She has given us a fitness programme for the horses to start doing 6 weeks prior. It includes a lot of track work and stamina training. Three weeks before the Derby, Ari and I will also be competing in the SA Young Rider Championships, so that will alter our Derby training plan slightly but shouldn’t cause any major problems. Hopefully it will just make him fitter! I am very careful about Ari’s health and make sure to look after him very well as he is already 15 years old. I take him to the Hydro Spa twice a week, as well as having solarium treatments on a daily basis. Horses are athletes and they need to be cared for in the correct way, especially when they are competing at such a high level.

Q: Which obstacles concern you most and how will you handle them?

SN: Practice, practice, practice – at home first! But Ari is a fairly easy horse, who is not scared of too much, nor do any Derby obstacles bother him so I do not have too many concerns. The only concern on the day, apart from controlling the nerves, will be to guide Ari around well and give him a good ride to the fences and I trust him to help me with the rest.

Q: What is your personal health plan leading up to the event?

SN: I am generally a very fit and health conscious person, so I won’t be changing too much. I gym 5-6 days a week and train with a personal trainer once a week. But I will be focusing slightly more on my endurance and stamina fitness as the Derby course is very long, and it’s not just the horses who get tired towards the end!

Q: If you win this year, how do you plan to celebrate?

SN: Wow, I haven’t even thought that far yet! But if I win, I will most definitely be celebrating with my friends and family, and Ari of course! Knowing my mother she will most probably order him a carrot cake from Tasha’s!

Event Details:

Date: Sunday 4 October, 2015

Venue: Kyalami Park Club, 1 Dahlia Road, Kyalami

General access tickets via Computicket

VIP access via the Derby website

Simone on 071 488 9078 or


Twitter: @KyalamiParkClub