(Craig Jewell/Barun Patro)
News from Phumelela is that Champion South African jockey for four of the last five seasons, Mark Khan, will captain a vastly talented team of six riders selected to represent South Africa in the International Jockeys’ Challenge on Steinhoff Summer Cup Day at Turffontein on Saturday 29 November.
The other riders are Anton Marcus, Weichong Marwing, Karl Neisius, Kevin Shea and Piere Strydom with Anthony Delpech the official reserve. He will replace any rider unable to fulfill his engagements in the Challenge.
Tex Lerena, chairman of the South African Jockeys’ Association, is one of many people hugely enthusiastic about the Challenge and he believes it will be the experience of a lifetime for the South African jockeys at Turffontein on the day: “The re-introduction of an international jockeys’ challenge after an absence of over 20 years will revitalise the entire horseracing industry, particularly the jockeys. For them it’s a privilege to rub shoulders with legends like Frankie Dettori, Mick Kinane and Damien Oliver and young stars like Ryan Moore and Christophe Soumillon.”
Horseracing and tote betting operator Phumelela handed the responsibility of selecting the South African riders to the National Horseracing Authority (NHA), an autonomous body that regulates the sport and ensures all races are run according to the rules.
The NHA met with representatives of Phumelela and the Racing Association (RA), which represents owners in Phumelela regions, to lay down the criteria for selecting the riders. It was unanimously agreed that the team would be selected on merit according to the following key criteria:
* Placings on the national jockeys’ log over the last five years
* Must hold a South African licence and/or domiciled address in South Africa
* Profile and international achievements
A panel comprising Rob de Kock and Vee Moodley of the NHA, Patrick Davis of Phumelela and RA chairman Larry Wainstein was entrusted with the task of selecting the riders to represent South Africa.
The team chosen brims with talent and experience. Mark Khan has been four times champion of South Africa and once runner-up in the last five years, while former champion jockey Piere Strydom is a household name and has finished in the first three on the national jockeys’ log for the last five seasons.
Anton Marcus has also consistently finished high on the national jockeys’ log in recent years and has enjoyed an ultra-successful year internationally, winning the $5million Dubai Duty Free and the Singapore Airlines Cup on Jay Peg.
Weichong Marwing and Kevin Shea have enjoyed enormous success, both locally and abroad. Between them they have ridden several winners in recent years at Dubai World Cup, the richest race meeting in the world.
Weichong Marwing is currently riding in Hong Kong, where he rode with great success for several years before becoming stable jockey to trainer Mike de Kock.
Kevin Shea, who is now Mike de Kock’s stable jockey, won the $5million Dubai Sheema Classic on Mike de Kock’s charge Sun Classique at Dubai World Cup earlier this year and is currently riding for the stable in the UK.
Cape-based Karl Neisius has long been regarded as one of the country’s top riders and has performed consistently well on the national jockeys’ table.
It is hoped that the South African riders will be awarded Springbok colours and the NHA has made the necessary application to the relevant bodies. A decision is expected by the middle of October.
The South African jockeys will take on one of the strongest international team of riders yet assembled in the four-race Challenge at the Steinhoff Summer Cup meeting on 29 November.
The international team comprises Frankie Dettori, Mick Kinane, Ryan Moore, Damien Oliver, Christophe Soumillon and Srinath Surender.