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S’manga Khumalo is the Cristiano Ronaldo of SA racing — no doubt about that as he slotted home his mount, Sparkling Water, as the three lengths winner of Saturday’s Hollywoodbets Durban July at Greyville.

While Ronaldo’s future may be in the balance at Manchester United, that’s not the case with the year-younger Khumalo who continues to go from strength to strength on SA racetracks and delight his legion of fans.

One could describe it as a second homecoming for the highveld-based jockey as he went to school in KwaMashu in Durban. The first was his win in the 2013 July on Heavy Metal.

Mike de Kock’s fifth July success also delighted Business Day readers who followed the advice to back the filly at odds of 33-1 back in February.

This column remained in Sparkling Water’s corner on Saturday, but the filly’s starting price of  16-1 borders on the unbelievable. In Friday’s Business Day bookmaker Lance Michael had the daughter of Silvano priced at 7-1.

This alarming drift will have bamboozled Sparkling Water’s supporters as she was perfectly relaxed in the preliminaries in front of a crowd estimated to be more than 30,000.

It was the same mystery with runner-up, Jet Dark, with the Queen’s Plate winner drifting from 15-2 to also start at 16-1. The bird had flown before the Trippi colt got into top gear.

Safe Passage had credentials to give Muzi Yeni his first July success, but had to settle for third place. “They got first run on me,” said the jockey after the race.

With Do It Again — the choice of a number of pundits — finishing fourth, those punters lucky enough to have won the exotic bet might have been hoping for a payout of about R5,000 in the quartet.

Imagine their surprise — and happiness — when it was announced  the dividend was R20,984.

For owner Mary Slack, Sparkling Water completed a memorable Ascot-July double as her three-year-old Claymore won at last month's royal meeting. Her winner will eventually be a superb addition to her band of broodmares at Wilgerbosdrift.

Though he finished second and fourth in the big race, Justin Snaith now looks certain to finish second behind Paul Peter in the trainers championship. The highveld conditioner won the grade 2 Post Merchants with Val d'Orcia.

The list of disappointments in the July is a long one headed by well-backed four-year-old, Linebacker. Last year’s runner-up trailed in 14th, 14 lengths behind the winner.

There was also solid support for Sparkling Crown’s stablemate, Aragosta, but the SA Derby winner also failed to rise to the occasion and came home ninth six lengths behind Khumalo’s mount.

Despite Richard Fourie’s bullish forecasts to the media ahead of the race, the excitable Pomp And Power got worked up in front of the large crowd and it was no surprise to see the Snaith runner fail to make an impact and come home 10th.

The meeting, which started so well for Fourie with a first-race win on Feather Boa, got worse when hot favourite Captain's Ransom failed to fire against She's A Keeper in the grade 1 Brentford FC Garden Province Stakes.

The daughter of Captain Al — the winner of 11 of her 14 starts — is likely to be rested ahead of the summer season in the Cape.


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