THE South African Jockeys team scraped to an exciting win over the international side in a tightly contested ACTS International Jockeys’ Challenge.
Contributions from each member ensured a 25-point victory over the visitors.
Going into the third and final leg of this year’s Challenge, the South African team – comprising Piere Strydom, Anton Marcus, Robbie Fradd, Sean Cormack, S’manga Khumalo and Anthony Delpech – held a 69-point advantage. The Internationals, captained by Richard Hughes and also including Jamie Spencer, Johnny Murtagh, Tom Queally, Greg Benoist and Hugh Bowman, had gone 15 points up after the first leg at Turffontein on Friday night, but wins by Delpech and Fradd wrested back a controlling lead for the hosts at a sodden, curtailed Kenilworth meeting.
Robbie Fradd, That’s Our Boy!
A freshening headwind and hot conditions confronted riders at Clairwood for the deciding leg on Sunday.
Hughes landed a gamble on Picador in Race 5, coming from last off a strong early gallop. When the frontrunners collapsed, Cherished and The Fifth Day moved through to contest the lead but neither could resist the closing surge of Picador, who was shedding his maiden tag after 29 starts.
James Goodman’s charge benefitted from a textbook, waiting ride and preferred the softened ground. Sean Cormack salvaged points for SA getting second on Pilgovan Star.
The Internationals drew closer still when they cleaned up in Race 6, sweeping the first four positions. Murtagh moved through sweetly to win on in-form Dynasty mare Blouberg Beach, with Captain’s Daughter staying on well under Bowman to get second. Infinite Wisdom (Hughes) and Jet Set Model (Spencer) completed the Quartet.
The contest was delicately poised with only 11 points separating the teams – and with each of the first eight races in the Challenge having been won by a different hoop.
That’s Our Girl then won Race 7. She hit the front at the 300m marker under Fradd and kept going to beat Circle Of Speed (Benoist) and the South Africans led by 21 points going into the last race of the Challenge.
In that race, Hughes scythed through on Commodity Strike to snare Last Eclipse (Khumalo) and Nineteen Fourteen (Marcus). His brilliant jockeyship was evident throughout the contest and he deservedly lifted individual honours.
But points secured for the placings enabled the South African team to maintain their edge and they eked out a 523 to 498 victory, wresting back the International Jockey’s Challenge title after it had been won by the international team two years running. – tabonline.