S’Manga Khumalo. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
S’Manga Khumalo. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

His 17th place finish in the national jockeys log tells the story. For S’manga Khumalo the 2018/19 season, which ended on Wednesday, can only be described as forgettable.

Six years ago Khumalo was riding high and he became the first black jockey to win the Durban July when scoring on Heavy Metal in 2013.

Racing can be a “snakes and ladders” sport and Khumalo experienced this earlier in 2019 when winning a grade 3 race at Kenilworth in March but then taking a crushing fall at the same track the following month. Luckily he escaped serious injury.

With Lyle Hewitson getting most of the plum rides for champion trainer Sean Tarry, Khumalo has battled to get quality mounts and he is booked for only three races at the Vaal on Thursday.

However, there is every chance the likable jockey can start the new season on a high as his sixth race mount, Arabian Air, has been in good form in 2019.

The Silvano gelding is trained by Joe Ramsden who won last Saturday's Gold Cup at Greyville with the Dynasty filly, Dynasty's Blossom.

The big question for Arabian Air’s supporters is whether the four-year-old can give 3,5kg to Paul Peter’s talented mare Folk Dance. Peter can look back on his best season to date — he saddled over 100 winners and finished sixth in the national trainers log.

Folk Dance, to be ridden for the first time by apprentice Jeffrey Syster who will claim his 4kg allowance, has had to settle for third place in her last three outings and should be in the money again.

It is hats off again to champion trainer Tarry whose stakes tally of over R29m was nearly R6m more than his nearest rival Justin Snaith.

The progeny of Pomodoro did Tarry proud last term and — in Thursday’s sixth race — he sends out one of his sons Royal Italian. Earlier in 2019, the gelding was in hot form, but he has failed to place in his last four starts so needs to raise his game.

Lake Kinneret has more than paid his way in 2019 and trainer St John Gray has booked Gavin Lerena to partner the five-year-old on Thursday afternoon. He was in the saddle when the gelding won at Turffontein in May.

Though Khumalo has an each-way chance on Hidden Agenda in the eighth race, the horses to concentrate on in this 1,450m event could be Dhabyaan, Fitzwilliam and Riboux En Var.

Aussie-bred five-year-old Dhabyaan, who cost $603,000 as a yearling, has proved disappointing although his recent fifth behind Culture Trip suggested a win might be close at hand.

Trainer Dorrie Sham saddles her Dynasty gelding, Fitzwilliam, while Paul Peter has engaged Deon Sampson for Riboux En Var who was successful on the son of Var at Turffontein in May.

Lerena, who finished in fourth place in last season’s jockeys’ log, has seven booked rides at Thursday's meeting and should go close on Roy Magner's sprinter Valbonne in the first leg of the Pick 6.


1st Race: (7) Before The Dawn (1) Pop Icon (2) Live By Night (4) Titelist

2nd Race: No Selection

3rd Race: (5) Life Is Good (3) Galactic Warrior (4) Sugoi (1) Benji

4th Race: (1) Valbonne (5) Donny G (2) Clever Guy (4) Old Man Tyme

5th Race: (6) Flying High (7) Forever Indigo (1) Sea Like Glass (9) Incognito

6th Race: (1) Arabian Air (2) Folk Dance (4) Royal Italian (3) Lake Kinneret

7th Race: (3) Westwing Belter (1) Twelve Oaks (7) Sammi Moosa (5) Fortuna Doro

8th Race: (1) Dhabyaan (2) Fitzwilliam (4) Riboux En Var (3) Ring Of Fire

9th Race: (2) Wordyness (6) Waqaas (1) El Sereno (9) Long Pond