An unwelcome new year surprise dropped into S’Manga Khumalo’s inbox this week: a 10-day riding suspension for upsetting the stipes at Fairview by not riding a horse vigorously enough to get a fourth place.
Khumalo is enjoying a very successful season and is probably the only jockey with any chance of catching runaway championship log leader Warren Kennedy by the end of the term in August. Ten days in the cooler won’t help any ambition to close the 30-winner gap to Kennedy.
However, the man they call “Bling” has a good chance of putting a few wins in the bank before he takes his enforced holiday, thanks to an promising book of rides at the Vaal on Thursday.
If things go to plan, Khumalo should win for the Azzie yard on Bartholdi in Race 2 and Quest From Afar in Race 4. Lucky Houdalakis-trained Duke of Rain offers another cracking chance in the fifth.
If all his cards fall right, the ex-champ might even get another two or three, with, for example, Alec Laird’s runner Fantastical looking likely to do well in the sixth.
This doesn’t mean the relentless Kennedy will be standing by idly. He partners a string of well-fancied Paul Peter horses at the meeting and could trim back on inroads made into his log lead.
1: 2 Abayyaan, 1 Coming In Hot, 4 Back To Basics, 3 Captain Persia
2: 1 Bartholdi, 4 Mufasa, 2 Invidia, 5 Gallic Chief
3: 1 Sky Glitter, 13 Yours Truly, 7 Angel’s Wish, 2 Namibsroos
4: 4 Quest From Afar, 5 Maria’s World, 1 Kissed By Fire, 6 Crown Plaza
5: 1 Duke Of Rain, 2 Gimme A Dream, 9 Jaipur Jewel, 4 Gold Ambition
6: 2 Fantastical, 1 Elusive Current, 9 Bey Suyay, 5 Nordic Rebel
7: 1 Bella Chica, 3 Cold Fact, 4 Herstel, 9 Big Eyed Girl
8: 11 Samoa, 5 Gin And Tonic, 1 Bathing Beauty, 6 Verinova
Pick 6: 1,13 x 4 x 1,2,9 x 1,2,5,6,9,10,13 x 1,3,4,5,9,10,12 x 1,5,6,7,8,11 (R1764)
PA: 1,4 x 1,13 x 4 x 1 x 1,2 x 1,3,4 x 1,5,11 (R72)