JUSTIN Snaith, S’Manga Khumalo and Klawervlei Stud have dethroned SA racing’s formidable ‘old guard’ to be crowned Champions of the 2013/14 racing season.
Snaith, a Top 10-finisher for ten years running (five times in the Top 5), finally clinched his first National Trainer’s Title, breaking Mike de Kock’s stronghold of four successive titles posted among the six he claimed in the past decade.
Ambitious and hard-working, Snaith threw everything he had at the 2013/14 campaign and saddled a phenomenal record 194 winners for gross stake earnings of R19,49-million, near R5-million clear of second-placed Geoff Woodruff.
Mike himself had another good season, sending out 140 winners (19% ), the joint-best strike rate on the log. The De Kock stable’s 2009/10 earnings of R22,19-million will be something the ceaselessly energetic new Champion Trainer will be aiming at next.
The hugely popular S’Manga Khumalo, like Snaith, approached the 2013/14 season with great confidence. Khumalo has set the tracks alight in the last 18 months, rising from relative obscurity to the very top and booting home several Gr1-winners in the process.
With only a single Top 10 finish in the past 10 seasons, Khumalo silenced his critics with a stunning performance, holding a host of well accomplished riders at bay virtually from gun to tape. Assisted by a top class agent in Justin Vermaak, Khumalo rode 185 winners, more than doubling his previous best tally of 85 winners (2010). He finished 38 winners ahead of second-placed Richard Fourie, topped the earnings table too and will be representing South Africa at the prestigious Shergar Cup in the UK this weekend.
Mike de Kock, the part-time prophet, predicted in the first week of the 2013/14 term that ‘Bling’ would emerge as a leading title contender and during the course of the season kept his promise of supporting Khumalo’s historic chase.
“S’Manga’s winning the title in the company of jockeys like Piere Strydom, Anthony Delpech, Anton Marcus and Richard Fourie shows how good he is. He’s made us proud and I believe he has even more to offer. He’s really talented, he won’t stop here!” commented Mike.
Klawervlei Stud, captained by stalwart breeder John Koster, topped the breeders list for the first time, displacing Mick Goss’ Summerhill Stud, who had virtually claimed the title as their own in modern times. Runners bred by Klawervlei earned over R15.6 million in prize money, winning 181 races during the season and capturing some of the biggest prizes on the calendar including the J&B Met with Captain Al’s son, Hill Fifty Four.
Klawervlei’s success in 2014 wasn’t limited to local tracks. Their overseas runners included the De Kock-trained Vercingetorix and Shea Shea, winners of the Gr1 Jebel Hatta and Gr3 Meydan Sprint respectively at the Dubai Racing Carnival.