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S’Manga Khumalo returns from a suspension to ride two big horses, Safe Passage (Silvano) and Desert Miracle (Dynasty), in the Classic meeting at Turffontein Standside on Saturday and as always the twice SA Champion jockey is ready.

Trainer Mike de Kock has spoken about the “freakish” heart recovery rates of the Grade 1 WSB SA Classic favourite Safe Passage, who is on route to giving the maestro trainer a third SA Triple Crown winner.

However, the horse’s recovery statistics do not surprise the phlegmatic Khumalo who said, “He doesn’t show much at home, so is not like some other horses who get really stressed and then take a long time to shine up again.”

He emphasised Safe Pasage showed so little at home one never knew what to expect of him at the races. 

This is despite him having won his last five on the trot including the Grade 2 WSB Dingaans and the Grade 2 WSB Gauteng Guineas.

Khumalo said, “With him you just take it race by race.”

However, the Drakenstein Stud home-bred clearly has that habit of champions of reserving his best for the racecourse and fortunately appears to have not inherited any of the temperament problems of his mother My Sanctuary (Antonius Pius). 

Safe Passage has a wider draw than he has ever experienced before and is sometimes a bit heady in the early stages after his usual good break, but he does not look a sort who will fight the rider and waste energy. 

Khumalo should thus have every chance of switching him off and on in an attempt to slot in.  

Safe Passage has won up to 2000m before, so if he does find cover he is sure to deliver his good turn of foot and resolute finish.

However, he is probably going to have it tougher than ever because a number of the opposition are looking for this 1800m trip.

His stablemate Aragosta (Rafeef) is one of them, as he proved when flying up from last to win the Grade 3 Sea Cottage Stakes over this course and distance.

Aragosta was a touch unlucky in the Guineas as he was faced with a wall of horses when going for a rails run down the inside and when he did eventually see daylight he was running on well.

Outofthedarkness (Gimmethegreenlight) will also likely relish the step up in trip being by Gimmethegreenlight out of Fort Wood mare Negroamaro, who won the Fillies Mile before finishing close seconds in both the SA Fillies Classic and Woolavington 2000. 

The unbeaten Zeus (Soft Falling Rain) is an unknown quantity but looks to be the real deal and easily gets this trip. 

Captain Lannister (Captain Of All) tries a big step up in trip and on the female side should get it.

The Guineas runner up Pyromaniac (Slivano) is bred to go the Derby trip even if he does not look like a middle distance to staying type.

Khumalo has done plenty of work on Desert Miracle (Dynasty) so deserves to get the ride on her in the Grade 1 Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic.
There has been a lot said about her last race and there is one camp who believe she will have a problem staying this 1800m trip.

However, Khumalo said she had felt really good at home and he would not be looking for any other factors to worry about. By this he meant he would ride her as if she stayed.

He added she had probably not enjoyed the greatest preparation last time but was “now in the right spot.”

The Wilgerbosdrift Gauteng Fillies Guineas was her first run back from Cape Town.

Khumalo has some other good rides on the day including Al Muthana (Deep Field) in the Grade 2 Wilgerbosdrift Hawaii Stakes and although he agreed it would be a bit sharp for him he added, “He is a very nice horse and has been doing very well.”

Khumalo has been under fire from some sources for a number of whipping transgressions but he responded, “I have ridden in places where there are no whipping restrictions and you used to be allowed 15 over here. The limit is now 12 and  every time I have transgressed it has been 13, just one over, and I have been on the winning horse too. It is not as if I am sitting at the back winding a horse. The stipes understand racing and understand what I have just said here. Critics sitting in the comfort of their lounge don’t know what it is like in a finish. Some of them don’t understand racing and others might be talking from their pockets because Khumalo beat them in the finish and went one whip over the limit.”

South African jockeys are also taught to whip rhythmically and this can be compared to British jockeys, a few of whom who become unbalanced when they whip because of their effort to deliver a hard strike.

Picture: Safe Passage (JC Photos)