S’Manga Khumalo is back and hungry after an extended spell in the doldrums and the former champion jockey is now a regular at KZN meetings. He paid for his airfare and some more as he got his meeting off to a flying start on the Dennis Bosch runner Treading Water in the card opener at Hollywoodbets Greyville yesterday.
First timer James Peter was hampered out of the gate which did his chances no good but with Donovan Dillon pushing forward on Valiente a thankful Khumalo slotted in behind in second and James Peter also pressing forward.
Two furlongs out Valiente looked to have it all in hand but his fuel gauge went from full to empty in a matter of strides leaving Treading Water to go clear. But he too was ‘treading water’ as the filly Ode loomed up on his outside, the line coming just in time.
Valiente may have let the side down in the first but Dillon made no mistakes on Brett Crawford’s filly Gwendolyn in the next. Gwendolyn, Royal View and Another Secret stood out as the form runners and the finished one-two-three.
With Belinda Impy handing in her brief towards the end of last season, Lady Colleen Glaeser moved most of her runners to Wayne Badenhorst and Lady Legend provided their first winner together. A close-up second over course and distance last time out, Muzi Yeni took no prisoners with Lady Legend bolting clear to win by the best part of four lengths.
Parting company with his mount Silent Crusade at Hollywoodbets Scottsville last month will have been fresh in Keagan De Melo’s mind. It was a fearful fall and a miracle that he escaped serious injury.
De Melo was back on board Mark Dixon’s filly yesterday where he rode a cracking finish on the favourite. Tracking the pace, Silent Crusade shifted into top gear 400m out but didn’t look at all comfortable as she hung out and seemingly not to keen to go on with her effort. But De Melo kept hard at her and she gamely held off a charging phalanx headed by Generous Lady and Exclusive Quantity.
No doubt young Luke Ferraris will have designs on a career in Hong Kong where his father is a leading trainer and judging pace correctly a prerequisite. Ferraris has a way to go yet if he is ever to get the nod from the super picky Hong Kong Jockey Club but he rode a perfectly judge race on Self-Mastery for Garth Puller. He got a soft lead from a wide draw and made the most of it, going for the line on the home turn and drawing off to win comfortably.
That said, he may have misjudged the pace on Georgina Rose in the very next race as Calvin Habib played the small field on the brake. All under a hard hold for much of the contest, Mary O kept finding when asked the question. Electric Surge tried hard and Jacks Bird arrived late with Georgina Rose struggling to quicken off the slow pace.
On contrast, there was no hanging around in the seventh as apprentice Jason Gates set a solid pace on Bling A Ding Ding that suited winner Coyote Girl. Stuart Randolph sat her in one from last and when all were gasping for air, Coyote Girl picked them off to win smartly.
Title-chasing Warren Kennedy, twice beaten into second on the day, got it right in the last as Dennis Bosch opened and closed the meeting. Kennedy left it late on Mutawaary to ware down game veteran Big King and deny Randolph a quick double.
By Andrew Harrison