IT is not entirely clear how long attorney Robert Bloomberg will manage to keep jockey S’Manga Khumalo away from the claws of the National Horseracing Authority, but the man they call ‘Bling’, like Father Time, is waiting for no one. He is making hay while the sun shines.
Title-chasing Khumalo has been in a purple patch of form this week, keeping his determined effort to secure an historic first South African Jockeys Championship on target in the face of a strong challenge from the mercurial Capetonian Richard Fourie, who got within 21 winners of the log-leader after a highly successful last weekend.
With roughly seven weeks left of the 2013/14 racing season and the pressure mounting, Khumalo put his head down and pulled away from Fourie with eight winners bagged collectively at meetings held around the county over the last four days. He notched a treble at Flamingo Park on Monday, one at Scottsville on Wednesday and an exciting four-timer at the Vaal’s sand track on Thursday, two of them aboard runners from Mike de Kock’s stable.
Punters will certainly remember Massachussets after her good win on sand at the Vaal.
“I just love riding these animals,” said the stylish 29-year-old after he’d produced Mary Slack’s filly Massachusetts with a well-timed finish to win Race 4 over 1450m. As interviewer Julie Alexander pointed out, things tend to go particularly well when your confidence is high. Khumalo appeared almost over-confident on this one-time winner who was easily 10 lengths out of her ground with 400m to run, no easy task on this surface. But Khumalo had to do what he wanted to do. When he switched her lights on, he soon had his fellow-jocks hitching for a ride. Massachusetts, going for home, left them standing.
“Massachusetts has had her problems and I must thank Mrs Slack for her patience. She’s a filly with ability,” commented assistant trainer Mathew de Kock of this daughter of Trippi, who also sired two-year-old colt On This Rock, Khumalo’s earlier winner for the yard.
On This Rock, owned in partnership by the Jooste family and his breeder Anthony Peter, was similarly impressive in his first attempt on sand and Mathew said: “He woke up today and this was a combination of a tongue tie, the sand, first time blinkers and first time for S’Manga. It’s nice to train a winner for Mr Peter.”
On His Rock, a well-beaten favourite on turf last month, put 3.5-lengths between himself and the runner-up and will be expected to make further progress on the surface. (Headline photo, home page): On This Rock wins a good race in Anthony Peter’s silks.