While the International team led by 15 points in the ACTS International Jockeys’ Challenge at the start of Saturday’s Kenilworth meeting, by the end of the curtailed fixture – only two of the scheduled four Challenge races were run due to rain – the South Africans had cruised past them and enjoyed a 69-point lead.
The final leg of the ACTS International Jockeys’ Challenge will be held this afternoon at Clairwood.
On Friday night the Internationals started off with a bang, scoring 28 points more than the South Africans in the first Challenge race after diminutive Belgian Gregory Benoist drew first blood aboard Roy Magner-trained 25-1 shot Tomorrow’s Miss, who beat her better-fancied stable companion Shattered Image and Robbie Fradd by 1.50 lengths. Sean Cormack fell at the start but, thankfully, was uninjured.
They drew further ahead in the second Challenge race, with Jamie Spencer spinning some magic and causing a bit of an upset on Leon Erasmus-trained Tiger Territory (12-1). Weiho Marwing’s charges Uncle Tommy (Anthony Delpech) and Here Comes Billy (Anton Marcus) as well as Whiteline Fever (Fradd) kept the South Africans in the game by coining the 37 points for second, third and fourth, but the Internationals maintained a 32-point lead heading into the third Challenge race.
The tables were then turned and Piere Strydom aboard favourite Prince Jazeem, a smart-looking son of Toreador, scored an easy win over outsider Depardieu and Benoist, with Johnny Murtagh aboard Red Barrel finishing third and S’manga Khumalo on Bluroute taking the minor placings. The teams scored the same number of points, though, leaving the Internationals with an unassailable lead for the evening.
The South Africans were down but definitely not out and they pulled back 17 points in the final Challenge race at Turffontein, taking first and second with Money Doesn’t Count (Cormack) and weak favourite Bodybuilder (Khumalo).
The South Africans scored a 1-2-3 in the first Challenge race at Kenilworth on Saturday, with Delpech pulling out all the stops to beat Khumalo and Epicentre, with Fradd and Arcsign another 0.40 lengths back and 2.50 lengths in front of Hughes and Skabenga.
That set the tone for the day because Fradd then scored his first Challenge win aboard Blarney Bay, a 20-1 shot who relegated International captain Richard Hughes and Chestnut’s Rocket into second by 7.50 lengths. Cormack (Seven Fountains) and Parado (Benoist) filled the minor placings.
The final two challenge races at the meeting were cancelled but the South Africans had built up a healthy lead. Their total score for the day was a whopping 142 and they scored 84 points more than the Internationals.
Benoist was the most successful rider at Friday’s Turffontein meeting, scoring 60 points, while Fradd, with 42 points, headed the jockeys’ log at Saturday’s Kenilworth meeting. Benoist continues to lead the individual standings after the first two legs of the Challenge.