A game winning move halfway down the home straight by current national jockey log leading rider S’manga Khumalo sealed a courageous win for the Kahal mare Classic Illusion in the R175 000 Gr3 Yellowwood Handicap run over 1800m at the rain delayed Turffontein meeting on Wednesday evening.
A sombre sad mood hung in the Turffontein night air as the news of the passing of the First Lady of SA racing, Mrs Bridget Oppenheimer, filtered through.
Further irony was to come into play in the third race, when her filly Mrs Hancock passed the post first, but was relegated to second in the boardroom after an objection by trainer Stuart Pettigrew.
But the meeting went on and proved a memorable one for the connections of the Summerhill Stud bred Classic Illusion, who registered a well deserved first stakes win.
Confidence is a most desirable bedfellow for any jockey, and besides being off for a few days with an injured foot recently, there is little that Khumalo can do wrong this season.
His move to go early on Classic Illusion after Magic Smoke had done her bit, looked a suicidal one, but good jockeys get away with these streaks of ingenuity.
Classic Illusion galloped strongly and increased her advantage to two lengths , but the challenges came from Cyclone Michelle and Formation late in the race.
But the bird had flow and a joyously affectionate pat on the mane greeted Classic Illusion as she powered to the post to win by 1,25 lengths in a time of 111,95 secs.
The longshot Cyclone Michelle was gaining with every stride down the outside and the 10kg weight swing almost changed the final picture.
St John Gray’s equine ATM Formation was relegated to third, after her good win at the Vaal just a week earlier.
Dean Alexander was on hand to also unsaddle the fourth placed Mystic Tigress, who battled to get going, but was not stopping.
Classic Illusion was bred by Summerhill Stud and is by Kahal out of the one time winning Jallad mare, Class Will Sell.
A R200 000 National Yearling Sale graduate, Classic Illusion has now won 4 races with 10 places from 24 starts.
She took her stake earnings to R369 700 with this win.
She could well be a factor in a few of the fillies and mares features coming up on the Highveld.