Jack Milner
2 minute read
21 Aug 2017
11:43 am

Mark Khan is hoping for a quiet return to the saddle

Jack Milner

Khan, who turns 49 on 30 September, has been out for quite some time through injury.

GOOD TIMES. Mark Khan wins on Yard-Arm at Turffontein, one of the top horses he rode for trainer Geoff Woodruff.

Former South African champion jockey Mark Khan will return to the saddle on Thursday at Turffontein more than seven years after announcing his retirement from riding.

Khan, who turns 49 on 30 September, has been out for quite some time through injury, but has still been active on the racing front. He has been working horses and helping various trainers for some time now.

When asked about his comeback Khan said: “I just want it to be a quiet return. I just want to ease back into riding and give myself some time to settle down.”

However, that is unlikely to happen as the return of a five time champion is unlikely to go through unnoticed. It is ironic his first ride on Thursday comes in Race 2 over 1000m on the Standside track is aptly named “All Eyes On You”, a Judpot first-timer trained by Paul Matchett.

The return to racing of other jockeys who retired for medical reasons, for example Piet Botha and Jannie Bekker who are riding in Cape Town, has not gone down well with regular riders as there are already a quite a number of jockeys chasing the few good rides on offer.

Khan also had the advantage of being a light-weight rider which he says is still the case. “I can ride quite light but at the moment I am taking heavier weighted rides just to get settled in,” he said. In Thursday’s Computaform he is carded to ride at 54kg.

Khan, whose first winning ride was on Mascara for the late Alan Higgins, came up to Joburg from Cape Town and was No 1 jockey for Geoff Woodruff. At the same time he was also racing manager for owner Ebrahim Khan.

He was always a popular jockey with punters as they always got an aggressive ride from Khan who hated to lose and was not one of those riders who put his hands down prior to the finishing line.

He was champion in Mauritius in 2000 and has also ridden in Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and Europe but had massive success in Macau, where he rode 63 winners in five months.

However, a number of falls had both a physical and mental influence on Khan. He had tried all forms of treatment to get back in irons but in April 2010 decided to call it quits.

He was often at the course, helping and advising trainers for whom he rode some work and a few years back there was talk he was going to take out his trainer’s licence.

Khan’s other rides on Thursday are Effortless in Race 4 and Craft Club in Race 5, both for Gary Alexander, and finally Enter The Dragon in Race 8, also for Matchett.