Amid the glamour and jubilation of Saturday’s recordbreaking R5 million Gr1 Hollywoodbets Durban July, there was the inevitable boardroom drama with the winning rider receiving a R5 000 fine for engaging himself to ride both the winner and the second-placed finisher.
Two overseas-based jockeys were also on the receiving end of South Africa’s no-nonsense crop use rules.
In a fascinating bit of racing television, viewers were treated to an almost melodramatic pre-race clip of National Horseracing Authority Racing Control Executive Arnold Hyde briefing the Hollywoodbets Durban July jockey class of 2022, urging them to ride their mounts on merit and in terms of the rules, and urging them to ensure that safety prevails and that all of them would be returning to their families that evening.
In a sport that covers up like a self-conscious teenager, it was an interestingly innovative clip and clearly designed to demonstrate racing’s strict policing and provide some almost Netflixesque insight to the novice viewer.
One of South Africa’s most celebrated jockeys, 36 year old Kwa-Mashu born Smanga ‘Bling’Khumalo proved the hero again, after becoming the first black jockey in 2013 when grabbing the big one on Heavy Metal, as he punched the flash filly Sparkling Water to a sensational victory in front of a festive 30 000 crowd.
While the champagne flowed and owner-breeder Mary Slack celebrated a personal first after a lifetime of investment in the sport, Khumalo received a R5 000 fine from the Stipes after double engaging himself on both Sparkling Water and Jet Dark. Justin Snaith, trainer of Jet Dark, a horse on whom Bling has captured two Gr1 Lórmarins Queen’s Plates, commented tongue-in-cheek that ‘we all make mistakes in life’on the official big-race preview panel.
At the end of it all, it was to be the best mistake that Bling has made – although in a long game who knows how it will impact the former champion’s relationship with the Cape powerhouse stable.
Two overseas-based riders flew to Durban and both got sanctioned in terms of the twelve strike crop rule.
Jetting in from Mauritius, jockey Benrard Fayd’herbe signed an admission of guilt for a contravention of Rule 58.10.2 in that he mis-used his crop by striking the Jet Dark more than 12 times in the entire race. In assessing penalty, the Board considered the number of times (17) Jockey B Fayd’Herbe struck Jet Dark, the distance over which and manner in which he used his crop in relation to this Rule, the status of the race and finishing position of Jet Dark. Accordingly, a penalty of a fine of R10 000 was imposed.
Now Australian-based Callan Murray signed an admission of guilt for a contravention of the same rule, in that he mis-used his crop by striking Al Muthana more than 12 times. In assessing a penalty, the Board considered the number of times (14) Murray struck Al Muthana, the distance over which and manner in which he used his crop in relation to this Rule and the status of the race. Accordingly, a penalty of a fine of R2500 was imposed.
The stunningly emotional lyrical performance of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, singing a precursor to a stirring rendition of our national anthem, contributed to a delay to the scheduled start, in addition to some nerves in the pre-race minutes.
The bridle on Pomp And Power had to be re-fitted and the son of Vercingetorix and late inclusion Airways Law were stubborn to load. History chasing dual winner Do It Again was restless in the stalls, was removed, examined by the Veterinary Surgeon, and declared fit to race and was re-loaded.
Gauteng raiders Second Base and Flying Carpet lost one length.
Shortly after the start, in a tightly bunched field, Linebacker was eased when awkwardly placed on the outside of Hoedspruit which was over-racing in the early stages and shifted out.
Waterberry Lane over-raced in the early stages.
When over-racing in the middle stages, Belgarion shifted out off the heels of Kommetdieding on two occasions.
Pomp And Power was hanging out in the final straight.
At the 200m, Aragosta which was hanging from the 300m, was tightened on the inside of Hoedspruit which rolled in.
Jockey Calvin Habib reported that he felt something amiss with Flying Carpet in the concluding stages and as a result eased this colt out of the race. The Veterinary Surgeon was requested to examine.
In view of the performances of Linebacker (14.40 lengths, 6/1 in the betting) and Puerto Manzano (17.60 lengths, 33/1 in the betting) the Veterinary Surgeon was requested to examine.
Watch a review of the great day – courtesy of tope media man, Andrew Bon: