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Mark Khan – A Champion Steps Up

A memorable moment

A five-times SA champion jockey who was awarded his national colours in 2008, it was hardly surprising to see the astute Mark Khan celebrate his first winner from his very first runner at Turffontein on Classic Day – the scene of some of his memorable Grade 1 triumphs in the saddle.

Sea Shanty storms ahead under Ryan Munger to give Mark Khan his first winner (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

Looking dapper in a tailored suit and surrounded by his family, including wife Ronda, daughter Sandra and his son Cameron, and a number of loyal owners, the 55 year old exuded a mix of ice cool confidence and veiled emotion as he shook hands and hugged those around him after Ryan Munger earned a forever spot on the Khan Racing Stable office wall after riding a beautifully judged race to get the 16-1 Sea Shanty up in the Pick 6 opener.

Speaking to the Sporting Post afterwards, the quietly spoken Mark said that they had fancied the 3yo son of Lance, who had shown flashes of form in his third and fourth starts.

The gelding was returning from a seven week break and finished with some resolve to shed his maiden ticket. He looks likely to go a mile and could be a source of plenty of fun for owners John Maroun, David Anthony, Vincent Bakos, Andre Dormehl, Dean Palmer and Darren Simpson. This partnership has seven other horses in the Khan yard.

High five from Mark Khan (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

“I am fortunate to ride some of my own work. Sea Shanty felt good in his final workout, and based on that I could give all my loyal owners some confidence,” he observed, adding that the finish of the fourth race on Day 2 of The Championships was ‘a sweet moment’ after a tough but mostly enjoyable journey to get to the point where he is now the captain of his own ship.

“Throughout my riding career, I was fortunate to learn from the best, and when I decided to call it a day and hang up my saddle, I was again been blessed to have received the best guidance any man could dream of.”

After an association with leading trainers like the Australia-based Gary Alexander, multiple champion Geoff Woodruff, and in his earlier days, Mark Watters at Milnerton, Mark did his training as an NHA licenced assistant trainer under Grant Maroun at Randjesfontein.

Watch the Sea Shanty replay:

But he is now very excited to get going at his new Turffontein yard.

“Half my string of 16 are young horses. Former top owner Ebrahim Khan – many will remember Elusive Fort amongst some top horses he raced – is back, and he has always been a very staunch supporter. Then Miles Bloemstein, Ron Caris, Michael Le Roux and Barry Nel have given me a nice opportunity with the former Cape-based five -time winning sprinter Ragnar Lothbrok. Jace Chetty, Bradley Ralph, Rishan Bhagwandin and Linga Moodley are other wonderful founding supporters of what we intend to make a racing stable that will offer the best of racing fun and rewards. So, the future is exciting, and I am fortunate to enjoy such wonderful support from so many good people.”

We are family! Mark Khan proudly poses at Turffontein with his son Cameron, wife Ronda, daughter Sandra and team member Sandifuna Tavekenji (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

Mark tells us proudly that his family are right behind him and involved in the yard, with his wife Ronda handling the admin side of things. He is taking things one day at a time, and also hinted at a possible sponsorship in the pipeline.

Mark announced his retirement from the saddle in 2010 after sustaining injuries in a fall the previous season.

He returned to race riding in 2017 – booting home his first Gr1 ride in over 7 years when Hero’s Honour won the Gr1 SA Derby in May 2018 – a few weeks later he won the Gr1 Allan Robertson Championship on Mighty High!

There was plenty of fight in the old dog, and while he enjoyed great success in 2018 and 2019, riding for the IRC and others, covid came and derailed the world. But he was riding winners again in 2021. Then a nasty accident in the starting stalls in 2022 set him back and he started thinking about a second phase career as a trainer.

He tells us that racing, and horses is all he knows and his passion for the game has never dwindled.

The internationally experienced multiple national champion earned regional championship titles in three provinces and was also Mauritius champion jockey in 2000. He also honed his skills abroad in Malaysia, Singapore, Germany, Australia, Macau, Dubai and Zimbabwe.

His name is inexorably associated in our history books with many champions and Gr1 winners, and one that comes to mind is Yard-Arm who won the 2004 J&B Met.

We wish Mark Khan good fortune in his new venture.

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7 comments on “Mark Khan – A Champion Steps Up

  1. Anesh Billat says:

    All the best Mr Khan, very soon your string of 16 will rocket up

  2. Marlin Singh says:

    Mark Khan is a legend in the saddle and I want to congratulate him on his very first winner as a trainer…will never forget the days he rode in Arlington and Fairview and with front running tactics even the great Warren Kennedy could not peg back Mr Khan..You are a top horseman Sir and I wish You the very best for the future.

  3. Mike Coenraad says:

    All the best mark waiting for ur 1st grade winner now

  4. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Now this is a Cool guy. Great (ex)Jockey, guessing he is still riding work on his horses.

    Hope he gets lots of support and wish him many more winners.

    Go Mark Khan

    Albert Falls Greetings ( Baie warm die kant )

  5. Kyle Roberts says:

    All the best Mark. Look forward to your first winner for Mr Ebrahim Khan.good memories. You are going to do super. The next One Stripe is around the corner

  6. Norman fago says:

    What humble down to earth person mark khan is since his riding days surely Mr ebrahim khan will be the driving force behind coz the have a very good relationship and I think Mrs appelgreen and the grand emporium guys and jayce might support him everything of the best MK

  7. Barry Dunnett says:

    What a brilliant rider. My very best wishes

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