Mark Khan's renaissance continues as Hero's Honour springs 55-1 shock in Derby
Report: South Africa Saturday
Turffontein: South African Derby (Grade 1) 1m4f, turf, 3yo
The interrupted comeback of five-time South African champion jockey Mark Khan reached a new high when he sprang a 55-1 shock on Hero’s Honour in the South African Derby.
Khan, 49, was forced to retire in 2010 after suffering injuries in a fall the previous year. To almost universal surprise, he returned at the beginning of this season in August but in October he hurt his knee so badly riding work that he was out for six months.
Yet he persuaded trainer Gary Alexander that he was fit for Hero’s Honour, had him well placed throughout and led a furlong from home to beat 100-30 favourite Surcharge by a length and a half.
Khan said: “There were reservations about my rehabilitation but I did my best and, while I have ridden many Derby winners, this must be a wonderful achievement.”
Alexander added: “This is my third South African Derby winner and Mark and I go back to 2002, when we won the race with Timber Trader.
"I said to Mark that there had to be a question mark about his fitness and he replied, ‘I’m a professional – I won’t let you down’.”
Ramsden back in the big time
Joey Ramsden, who was one of Markus Jooste’s most successful trainers, has had to work hard to fill the void.
However, his decision to persuade a group of owners to buy Attenborough from Jooste’s Mayfair Speculators was rewarded when Richard Fourie delivered the 16-1 chance fast and late to capture the country’s top sprint race, the Grade 1 Computaform Sprint.
Fourie said: “Well done to Joey. Attenborough moved so well down to the start that I felt it was his race for the picking and he did it in impressive style.”
Yeni delighted as Fever strikes
Anton Marcus broke a wrist when unseated in the parade ring at Greyville on Friday evening and the four-time champion’s place on 47-20 favourite Legal Eagle (twice Horse of the Year and Jooste’s best before his sale) was taken by S’Manga Khumalo, himself champion on two occasions.
Khumalo set out to make every post a winning one in the 1m2f Premier’s Champions Challenge but his mount’s suspect stamina gave out well before the end and he finished only eighth.
Victory went to 71-10 shot Coral Fever, a son of the Sir Henry Cecil-trained Judpot, trained by Robbie Sage and ridden by Muzi Yeni, who said: “I was praying for a good pace. I got it and I always felt I was going to win.”