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Jack Milner (4Racing)

Alfred Hitchcock could not have directed a more intriguing  start to the Topbet Mike O’Connor Joburg Spring Challenge as a last-minute change of jockey saw Muzi Yeni land the ride on favourite William Robertson.

The horses had arrived down at the start, were just about to load when S’manga Khumalo took William Robertson away from the starting stalls and announced he was not prepared to ride the son of Rafeef.   

A last-minute replacement was sought out and it was Yeni who heeded the call. 

But, as William Shakespeare wrote, all’s well that ends well, and Yeni brought home William Robertson to beat well-supported After The Rain by a neck with Bingwa another 3.50 lengths back in third.

Mystery surrounds Khumalo’s reasons but according to trainer Corne Spies, he was told the jockey had felt something wrong with the horse and felt unhappy about taking the ride. “I was told that S’manga was not 100% happy with the horse and opted not to ride.

“Luckily we got Muzi and he did the honours and he won nicely, so I’m very pleased and very relieved that it worked out.

“I suppose there are so many rumours going around in this game that you never know.

“High drama, nerve-racking, but it worked out well. It would have been absolutely devastating if he had run down the field.”  

There was lots of betting support for the KwaZulu-Natal raider, Gareth van Zyl-trained After The Rain and the Master Of My Fate five-year-old was courageous in defeat. 

Jockey Diego de Gouveia got first run on William Robertson but Yeni, who had his mount well placed in fourth place moved up on his inside and grabbed the lead with 200m to run. It appeared as if William Robertson would extend his advantage but the runner-up rallied on well to go down a neck. 

Picture: William Robertson beats home popular KZN stalwart After The Rain, but not before plenty of drama (JC Photos).