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

“You’re kidding, right. Or is this some late April Fool’s joke?”

That might have been the reaction of highveld-based jockey S’Manga Khumalo when contacted by the Snaith camp to partner hot favourite Belgarion in Sunday’s WSB 1900 at Hollywoodbets Greyville.

Khumalo will be well aware that Belgarion won the 2020 Vodacom Durban July, but he has never sat on the five-year-old. It is certainly a feather in the cap of the 35-year-old who won the 2013 July on Heavy Metal as Justin Snaith had a number of talented riders to choose from with just 12 runners in Sunday’s race.

For example, champion Warren Kennedy surely would have had to give the offer serious thought had he got the call. Yes, he is due to ride She’s A Keeper for trainer Gareth van Zyl but the filly is rated 40 points inferior to Belgarion. Quite possibly, with the excellent record of four wins from five starts the four-year-old can finish in the first three, but it would be a major shock if she downed the favourite.

Richard Fourie partners Belgarion’s stablemate Crown Towers who most pundits were surprised to see beat Rascallion in the Sledgehammer Stakes at Scottsville.

It’s possible that this well-bred son of Camelot is only now realising his full potential. Generally, he’s been more a friend of bookies than punters — many will remember his defeat at the hands of Infamous Fox when heavily backed to win the final race on July day last year.

A good run from Crown Towers would make those backers — like this writer — believe that Rascallion can still be a factor in the July given a good performance in the Daily News. Trainer Vaughan Marshall is of the opinion that the Scottsville race came too soon after the three-year-old’s gelding trip from the Cape.

A top three finish is a definite possibility for another Snaith inmate, Doublemint, while Tristful should easily turn the tables on Trip To Africa on 7.5kg better terms.

Gavin Lerena’s main focus on Sunday will be bringing Lady Of Steel home to her seventh career win in the KRA East Coast Cup. The filly — third behind Empress Club in the Empress Club Stakes — tries 2,000m for the second time after finishing third in the Woolavington 2000 last year.

Lerena could have a successful weekend and punters might consider a treble starting with Puerto Manzano (sixth race at Turffontein on Saturday) followed by Lady Of Steel and Manterio (ninth race at Greyville).

Dual July victor Do It Again was nominated for the 1900 but makes his KwaZulu-Natal bow in the fifth race, a Pinnacle Stakes race over 1,600m.

The opposition is nothing to rave about with possibly Silver Operator — fifth in the Drill Hall — the right horse for the exacta. Sovereign Spirit — the surprise package in the Met when third at 100-1 — makes his first appearance since the Kenilworth race.

The topliner at Turffontein on Saturday is the Syringa Handicap and backers could get a good run for their money from lightly weighted Ululate (4-1 a place). The obvious form horses are Cordillera, Way Of The World and Wylie Wench, but this looks a competitive handicap.


WSM 1900

(Greyville, Sunday)

1. Belgarion

2. Crown Towers

3. She's A Keeper

4. Tristful


(Greyville, Sunday)

1. Lady Of Steel

2. Scented Mistress

3. Keep On Dancing

4. Rattle Mouse


(Greyville, Sunday)

1. Do It Again

2. Silver Operator

3. Sovereign Spirit

4. Sir Michael


(Turffontein, Saturday)

1. Ululate

2. Cordillera

3. Wylie Wench

4. Virginia


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