Newly crowned SA champion jockey S’manga Khumalo could hardly contain his joy as the Mike de Kock trained Enaad crossed the line first to win the R1,25 million Gr2 Gold Cup at Greyville on Saturday. ‘Bling’ as he is known to his legion of fans, took both hands off the reins at the post and followed up with a Dettori flying dismount in the number 1 box.
On his day the mercurial Khumalo is pure poetry in motion in the saddle and a showman of note. The display of unbridled delight was probably more a relieved farewell to a season where things haven’t always worked out the way they could have, than anything designed to impress
But for now, this was a second national champion jockey title in the bag and a top drawer display of race riding in South Africa’s premier staying race – sadly downgraded in its 95th year to a Gr2.
Multiple SA champion trainer Mike de Kock is a master of this race and was celebrating his fourth victory in the 21st century in a marathon with a colourful past and great spectator appeal.
De Kock saddled the ill-fated Wild One to win last year, as well as Ancestral Fore in 2010 and Thundering Star in 2007.
For Khumalo it was a first Gold Cup win and something he can now tick off his bucket list.
He has some way to follow in the footsteps of his mentor, the retired Felix Coetzee, who broke Charlie Barends’ record when riding his eighth winner in the 3200m event in 2012 on In Writing for Dean Kannemeyer.
Buoyed by his recent Gold Vase top four finish, De Kock brought the kitchen sink to war with five of the 16 runners carrying the famous stable’s flag.
After a lengthy delay as a result of Gauteng challenger Arch Rival being reshod, the field were despatched on a track that looked tired after taking the brunt of a long season.
With stablemate Kingston Mines winging his way out front, Bling had the lukewarm favourite Enaad relaxed some twenty lengths off the action.
De Kock was 1-2 early as Smart Mart snapped at Kingston Mine’s heels with Fortune Fella, Solar Star, The Centenary Coltrane, Helderberg Blue, Ovidio and Master Sabina following.
Enaad started making his way forward from the 1000m marker using his stablemate Kinaan as a lead and into the straight he was powering up and visibly going better than most of his field.
At the 250m marker Khumalo enjoyed the luxury of a glance up at the big screen as the well-weighted Enaad was just too strong and went on to win in a time of 211,28 secs.
Helderberg Blue came out of the pack to chase for second, and finished 1,25 lengths adrift as he shaded the 3yo Kinaan.
Justin Snaith had a sadly blank day and would probably have been disappointed with the lack of spark shown by Ovidio, who was not disgraced when plodding into fourth.
Sansui Summer Cup winner Master Sabina found his feet late to run fifth, and just held out Balance Sheet, who had no luck in a scrappy race in the straight.
De Kock said that the soft track conditions did not suit some of his other runners. But the third-placed 3yo Kinaan looks a horse with plenty of scope to go on next season.
Enaad has won 4 races with 8 places from his 18 starts for stakes of R1 325 600.
He was bred in Australia by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and is a son of ill-fated Coolmore shuttle stallion High Chaparral, a champion son of Sadler’s Wells.
Enaad is out of the twice winning Danehill Dancer mare, Al Anood.
Not a vintage season by De Kock’s high standards – but winning the Gold Cup will be a high point.
Gr2 Gold Cup (SAf-Gr2)
Greyville, South Africa, July 31, R1.25 million, 3200m, turf, soft, 3.31.28
1 – ENAAD (AUS), 53.5, b g 4, High Chaparral (IRE) – Al Anood (AUS) by Danehill (USA). Owner Al 2 Adiyaat South Africa (Pty) Ltd; Breeder bred in Australia; trainer MF de Kock; jockey S Khumalo
2 – Helderberg Blue (SAF), 59.5, b g 5, Jet Master (SAF) – Our Table Mountain (USA) by Fusaichi Pegasus (USA)
3 – Kinaan (AUS), 53.0, b c 3, Galileo (IRE) – Dazzledar (GB) by Zamindar (USA)
Margins: 1.25, 0.25, 2.00