There’s a proud record for the South African team to defend when the Air Mauritius International Jockeys’ Challenge takes place on the 18th and 20th of November.
This year’s event will once again be a double-header with the first leg taking place at Fairview before wrapping up at Turffontein on the Sunday.
But the South African team, captained this year by reigning champion jockey S’manga Khumalo, may have their work cut out for them given the crop of international riders assembled for the 2016 edition. Khumalo led the team to victory in the International Jockeys’ Challenge in 2013.
The visitors will be captained by one of horseracing’s most charismatic characters in the form of Frankie Dettori, who is no stranger to our shores having ridden in the first two editions.
The remainder of the squad sees Robert Havlin, Pat Cosgrave, Aurelian Lemaitre and Hayley Turner, all four featured in last year’s event, while Irish jockey Fergus Sweeney will be making his debut.
“From our point of view it is an absolute privilege to have the likes of Frankie and Hayley, who has kept her riding licence specifically for this event, coming back to South Africa. If you look at the calibre of stables that these jockeys ride for you can tell it’s a really strong side that’s been assembled,” said Larry Wainstein, CEO of the Racing Association.
As far as the South African team goes, Andrew Fortune and Anthony Delpech earned automatic inclusion as a result of their position on the National Jockey’s Log at the end of last season while Muzi Yeni was included after Anton Marcus was unable to confirm his participation. In-form Gavin Lerena and Grant van Niekerk have been thrown into the mix as wild cards.
“I’ve raced against these guys before and it’s always nice to be part of this again. It’s always exciting and we learn a thing or two from the visitors while also teaching them something. It’s going to be an exciting challenge and I just hope our guys are ready for it. We’d like to come out on top again,” said Khumalo as he prepares to lead the team again.
Since the inception of the competition in 2008 the South Africans have dominated, winning the competition eight times. The Internationals managed to reel off two successive victories in 2011 and 2012.
“Our team is made up of some promising youngsters and we’re giving them a chance to test themselves against some of the world’s best while also including the likes of Andrew Fortune and Anthony Delpech as the stalwarts,” Wainstein said of the make-up of the South African team.
Racing. It’s a Rush is proud to be associated with the event as it gives the brand super exposure and at the same time encourages fans to recognise racing as a sport by supporting the South African team.
Teams for the Air Mauritius International Jockeys’ Challenge
S’manga Khumalo (c)
Grant van Niekerk
Frankie Dettori (Italy)
Robert Havlin (Scotland)
Pat Cosgrave (Ireland)
Fergus Sweeney (Ireland)
Aurelian Lemaitre (France)
Hayley Turner (England)