Khumalo’s confidence pays off with nine weekend winners

Smanga Khumalo

Smanga Khumalo

“Woo woo. Jackpot and five winners at the Big T. I’m over the moon. Yes, yes, Team Khumalo!”

That was S’manga Khumalo’s post on his Facebook page after riding five winners at Turffontein on Saturday – and not even a week’s enforced holiday, courtesy of the stipendiary stewards for excessive use of the crop, could throw a damper on the celebration.

Khumalo followed his fabulous five-timer at Turffontein with another four winners at Ngong in Kenya on Sunday.

His winners in Kenya were Tiger’s Eye in Race 1, Grand Slam in Race 2, Shufti in Race 4 and Global Queen in Race 5. he finished last on Carla in the main race, the Stewards Cup.

An enthusiastic Turffontein crowd greeted Khumalo when he steered 16-10 favourite Uptothemoon into the No 1 box after a narrow victory over Cat’s Game in Race 8. It was his fifth win at the meeting and he was given a hero’s welcome.

Discussing the racegoers’ enthusiasm at what should have been a quiet winter racemeeting, Khumalo said: “It’s great! This is what makes it worthwhile.”

Uptothemoon generally takes time to get going and trainer Weiho Marwing’s instructions were “to stick with her” and that “the last little bit she’s going to get going”.

His reading was spot-on. At no point in the race did Uptothemoon look like scoring her third career win, but Khumalo said: “I took everything I had and threw it at her.” The filly got the judge’s nod by a head.

“It’s always nice to bring home the expected ones,” Khumalo added.

Uptothemoon was Khumalo’s third win for the Marwing yard. “Mr Marwing predicted that when I was at stables on Thursday,” he said.

They had already teamed up to win the second and third legs of the Jackpot, with Isobar (5-2), who was returning from a rest and posted his third win in a row, and Here Comes Billy (5-1).

Those wins came easier. Isobar, in Race 6, led 400m out and won with something in hand by 1.50 lengths and looks like something special. Here Comes Billy tracked pacesetters Dance Duty (5-4 favourite) and Memeza. He moved up to the leaders over 200m out and quickened well to win by 1.75 lengths. Duty Dance stayed on strongly, with Memza tiring late to finish 1.25 lengths further behind, just a short head in front of Kapellmeister.

“When you’ve got the confidence you’ll always ride a good race because you give your horse the confidence,” the jockey said after winning on Here Comes Billy.

Khumalo had also won the first leg of the Jackpot, the main race of the afternoon, aboard Sean Tarry-trained 4-1 favourite Tiger’s Retreat. They easily beat Ahoy Captain and National Key, who made most of the running.

The disappointment was Potala Palace, who never got a blow in, although he was expected to need the run and was hampered by National Road halfway down the straight. He finished a one-paced fifth and will have to improve substantially if he is to make a mark on the in-form runners in this Saturday’s Champions Cup at Greyville.

Khumalo’s first win came in Race 4 aboard Kom Naidoo-trained Our Folly, who drifted from 9-2 to 10s and scored an overdue maiden victory.

Given the red-letter afternoon he was enjoying, many racing fans were hoping Khumalo could also win Race 9 on Tarry’s Mesmerising Melody and the three-year-old filly was backed from 14-1 to 7s. Khumalo led on the daughter of Miesque’s Appeal but she faded late and the honours went to apprentice Wesley Marwing on Lance Wiid-trained Ohiki Bay. The four-year-old filly beat a badly hanging Divine Grace by a head and would have got the race in the boardroom even if she had been beaten.

Khumalo’s Jackpot paid R397. He will be back in action at the Vaal on Tuesday.

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