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

It is eight years since S’manga Khumalo became the first black jockey to win the Vodacom Durban July, but the 35-year-old will feel there is a chance of a second success in 2021. 

With Justin Snaith’s stable jockey Richard Fourie opting for dual July victor Do It Again, Khumalo has been booked for last year’s winner Belgarion who might run better than many pundits predict.

Fourie’s choice is perhaps a surprise as no horse has won the July three times. In addition, it is 31 years since a six-year-old (Beau Art) captured SA’s most famous race.

Khumalo, nicknamed “Bling”, has come a long way since he was persuaded to try his luck as a jockey. He said shortly after his July triumph: “I was really nervous starting out. I was a small boy weighing 30kg and here was this big animal, weighing 500kg, next to me.”

When the field makes its way to the start on Saturday, there will not be the same nerves as before 2013 when he rode Heavy Metal. Belgarion goes to post a fresh horse as he has had only three starts this year and he was noted making good late headway when fifth behind Rainbow Bridge in the Gold Challenge. His mount is 2kg better off with Eric Sands’s runner this time.

Form students will point to the fact that the favourite, Got The Greenlight, is 3kg better off with Belgarion compared with last year’s July which is why Muzi Yeni’s mount heads the betting market.

Khumalo has 10 booked rides on Saturday’s card at Hollywoodbets Greyville and — provided he can overcome a wide draw — has a serious each-way chance on Gareth van Zyl’s juvenile Gallic Chief in the grade 2 Golden Horseshoe.

This son of Vercingetorix has been ridden in his three races by Warren Kennedy, but the champion switches to AJ’s Captain who is trained by his wife, Barbara, and Wayne Badenhorst.

Gallic Chief, bred at Lammerskraal Stud, hails from a good family. His second dam, Travel In Front, won six races while the third dam, Bound To Honour, won 11 races in New Zealand.

Stuart Pettigrew’s Silvano gelding Castletown has been priced up favourite for the Golden Horseshoe and this youngster is the fifth produce of the eight-time winner Queen’s Bay. This R500,000 buy won in good style on his debut at Turffontein.

Khumalo heads for the Vaal on Thursday for five rides and his best mount could be Dance Lesson in the final leg of the jackpot.

A daughter of Bezrin trained by St John Gray, Dance Lesson looks reasonably treated in this novice handicap in which the Paul Peter duo of Euro Cent and Blue Eyes will have their supporters.

St John Gray is four-handed in the final event on the card, but his team face a tough rival in R1m buy Power Ranger. Mike de Kock’s three-year-old justified favouritism at the Free State track four weeks ago.

Interestingly, half of the field for the opening event are progeny of Vercingetorix, sire of Vaughan Marshall’s Durban July runner Racallion. Three of the four are newcomers so the market will need checking, but Big Eyed Girl is the likely favourite given her pleasing debut at Turffontein.

SELECTIONS

1st Race: (8) Big Eyed Girl (6) Vercin Dance (5) Super Excited (1) Abayyaan

2nd Race: (10) Wings Of Nike (1) French Joy (9) Waya Yire (5) Meadow Beauty

3rd Race: (1) Manterio (2) PrideofFranschoek (8) Intercity (9) On The Warpath

4th Race: (7) Twice The Act (4) Immeasurable (8) Ration My Passion (10) Masaaken

5th Race: (1) Lyrical Dance (7) Nirvana Girl (3) Lady Amherst (6) Rock You

6th Race: (3) Devilish Dancer (2) Last Cheer (1) Ancestral Prayer (8) Kissing Booth

7th Race: (7) Dance Lesson (1) Euro Cent (5) Blue Eyes (3) Raisetheredlantern

8th Race: (1) Power Ranger (4) Anatura (12) Hey Bennie (5) El Romiachi

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