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Calvin Habib will soon be considered a top echelon jockey if he can keep up the fine recent run which has seen him land eight feature race wins this season, including three Grade 1’s as well as the Grade 2 WSB Fillies Guineas and the Grade 3 Zimbabwe Guiineas.

He said he believed this was a breakthrough season for him.

He added, “I have been given good opportunities and taken them with both hands.”

It is not only those opportunities which have seen him rise but also hard work behind the scenes on both his physical and mental fitness for the last couple of years.

His has worked on his physical strength through boxing training at a place in Glen Vista called The Sweat Box.

He has a personal trainer there putting him through similar routines found in the fitness regime of a lightweight boxer.

He said, “The strength needed in boxing for jabbing is similar to the pushing strength needed in racing and the core work I have done to strengthen everything up is similar to what a boxer would do.”

He has received help on the psychological side from the Leisher brothers, the former jockey legend Bartie and his brother Matthew.

Matthew has always been Calvin’s GP but has latterly become his life coach in preparing him “to become a great jockey and a champion”.

Calvin’s father, former jockey Donovan Habib, remains his chief mentor.

He said, “He has guided me from day one. He is the first person I phone if I need advice or need a bit of guidance, not just with racing. He has been a great Dad and is my idol.”

What makes Calvin’s season even more remarkable is that it started off in the worst possible way. 

In his very first ride of the season at Turffontein he fractured three vertebrae in his back after his mount had clipped heels and stumbled badly. 

He believes the work he had done on his physical strength aided his recovery.

He was back in the saddle quicker than he thought possible and took his first comeback ride on October 19 just five or six days after starting track work.

Just over a month later he won his second career Grade 1 when the Sean Tarry-trained Flying Carpet (Judpot) won the WSB Summer Cup.

Tarry had given him his first Grade 1 winner on Under Your Spell in last year’s Allan Robertson Championship.

The partnership retained their Allan Robertson crown on Saturday with the Drakenstein homebred Trippi filly Sweet Pepper.

Then just over half-an-hour later they combined to win the Grade 1 Gold Medallion with the Avontuur Thoroughbred Farm-bred Wilgerbosdrift Stud-owned Rafeef colt Thunderstruck.

Calvin said about the Allan Robertson, “She broke well and I gave her time to find her feet. At the 700m she was travelling smoothly and I knew she had it under control. The gaps opened and I saw Muzi on Glittering Girl about three lengths ahead and knew she would fetch her. She was a true pro. It was a very courageous win to come from where she was and still produce that big kick.”

Sweet Pepper came from last to get up by a quarter of a length.

Calvin said about the Gold Medallion, “He showed a lot of pace like he did last time. His ears pricked and he was looking for company at the 400m mark but I still had a lot of horse in hand and he then gave an amazing kick and won a very, very good race.”

Thunderstruck won easing up by 2,90 lengths in 68,87 seconds, 0,14 seconds quicker than Sweet Pepper’s time.

Calvin agrees with the trainer that both horses will stay further.

Meanwhile, his Hollywoodbets Durban July mount Flying Carpet has been ticking over nicely and he is looking forward to his preparation run.

Picture: An elated Calvin Habib does the victory canter past after winning the Gold Medallion on Thunderstruck.