THE teams for the Air Mauritius International Jockeys’ Challenge have been finalised and some well-known UK jockeys will be flying to South Africa for the test. It will be held at one venue this year, Turffontein on Sunday 19 November, and the test will be held over six races.


Anthony Delpech
Captain. This Seychelles-born 48-year-old has ridden for South Africa in every International Jockeys Challenge held so far. He won the national jockeys’ title last season, riding 43 more winners than second-placed Greg Cheyne and maintaining a high 22% win rate.

Greg Cheyne
This 41-year-old Pretoria-born rider was in the South African team in the 2015 International Jockeys’ Challenge. He has a diverse international CV that includes appearances in Malaysia, Germany, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore Macau and most recently in England where he partnered Whisky Baron in his UK debut.

Gavin Lerena
Champion SA jockey 2014-15 and third on the log last season in spite of spending almost three months in the UK. The 32-year-old Johannesburg-born won the Grade 1 Gauteng Sansui Summer Cup on Master Sabina last year and his four Grade 2 wins included the Peermont Emperors Palace Charity Mile. He has ridden in Hong Kong, Mauritius, China, Dubai, England and Zimbabwe.

Anton Marcus
Four-time champion SA jockey, he has captained the “Proteas” four times in the International Jockeys’ Challenge and ridden in this test six times. The 47-year-old, who was born in Cape Town and is retained jockey to the powerful string belonging to Markus Jooste’s Mayfair Speculators, won six Grade 1 races last season when he finished fourth on the national jockeys’ log with a winning strike rate of 25.52%. 

S’manga Khumalo
Two-time champion SA jockey – the first person of colour to achieve that honour – this KwaMashu-born 31-year-old has ridden in the International Jockeys’ Challenge five times and was captain in 2014 when the local team won by a country mile. Finished fifth on the log in 2016-17 with a winning strike rate of 16.6% and a tally of three Grade 1 wins. 

Craig Zackey
The Benoni-born 22-year-old rides in the International Jockeys’ Challenge for the first time but has already represented his country twice, in the Asian Young Guns in Seoul in 2014 and 2015. Finished sixth on the SA Jockeys’ log last season with 138 winners and his second Grade 1 trophy, when Nother Russia won the HSH Princess Charlene Empress Club Stakes.


Pat Smullen
Represents Ireland. This 40-year-old rider, who rode his first winner in 1993, has won the Irish flat-racing jockeys’ title nine times and has won major races in his homeland, England, France and the United States. He will be riding in South Africa for the first time 

Seamie Heffernan
Represents Ireland and eighth on the Irish jockeys’ log this year with a 10% winning strike rate. The 45-year-old, who was born in County Kildare, rode in the International Jockeys’ Challenge in South Africa in 2012 when he won a race at Clairwood and helped his team win the test. He has also ridden in England, France and the USA, where he won the Breeders’ Cup Turf on Highland Reel last year. 

Corey Brown
Represents Australia. The 41-year-old Taree-born jockey has ridden in Mauritius, Singapore (fourth in the premiership there last year) and Hong Kong but comes to South Africa for our International Jockeys’ Challenge for the first time. Champion Australian jockey in 2001-2002, he is best known internationally for riding Shocking to victory in Australia’s premier race, the Melbourne Cup, in 2009.  

Martin Dwyer
Represents England. The 42-year-old Aintree, Liverpool-born jockey has ridden in Mauritius but visits South Africa for the International Jockeys’ Challenge for the first time. Has recorded Group 1 wins in England (including winning the Oaks on Casual Look in 2003 and the Derby on Sir Percy in 2006), Canada, Hong Kong, Italy, Dubai (where he won the Dubai Sheema Classic on Phoenix Reach in 2005) and India.  

Thierry Thulliez
Represents France. The 43-year-old Paris-born jockey, affectionately called “Thuthu”, started his life in the saddle as a jump jockey, winning 17 races over obstacles before moving to Chantilly to ride in Flat races.  He has won at the highest level in France, Italy and the USA, where he won the 2002 Breeders’ Cup Mile on Domedriver.

PJ McDonald
Represents Ireland but the 35-year-old jockey works in the UK and is in the top 10 on their jockeys’ log. Was recently crowned Flat jockey of the year at Ayr. A former jump jockey, he switched codes after winning the 2007 Scottish Grand National on Hot Weld as an apprentice, and has won 645 Flat races in his career.

Photo: Seamie Heffernam famous for his ride on Highland Reel.