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– Written by Mark van Deventer

Lady Christine Laidlaw was obviously thrilled to win the Gr1 SplashOut Derby with hugely talented three-year-old GREEN WITH ENVY, but she also derived special satisfaction from staging and being the winning owner in the Khaya Stables Work Riders and Jockey’s Championship Maiden Plate. 

Both her horses were ridden by Craig Zackey, a thoughtful and stylish rider with a penchant for delivering his mounts from off the pace with smooth finishing bursts. He came from way back on GREEN WITH ENVY, who lobbed along in a race run at a slow early pace, before becoming jet-propelled in the final 400m. That come home sectional went in a super-quick 22.45 seconds – quite an acceleration in a 2000m test, run in a drizzle on sticky ground. 

Zackey pulled a similar tactical move, albeit at a humbler Maiden level with SPEED RACER. The Brett Crawford trained entry has been showing good speed then folding in the run to the line, so Zackey decided to conserve his energy for a better finish on Saturday.  

The experienced William Bambiso (recent winner of the Hollywoodbets Work Rider Series) made a rare error by going too fast upfront on THE US OF A, which teed things up ideally for more patiently ridden rivals.  

The US OF A’s premature exertions took their toll and he eventually weakened into fourth place. 25/1 outsider, APPROACH SHOT (Sean Veale) and WISSA’S ON FIRE (Bulelani Thwalani – first in of the Work Riders) also pounced when opportune but could not match SPEED RACER’s dash. The 8/10 odds on favourite, one of many top-of-the- boards runners to get the job done on a punitive day for bookies, drew off to win by a length. 

The Work Riders and Jockeys, as well as the Hollywoodbets Work Rider Series, are both laudable initiatives. They give well-deserved exposure to unsung heroes in the racing game: the grooms / work riders who provide devoted care in working long hours with magnificent thoroughbreds.  

Nearly all their dedicated efforts go on behind the scenes in the stables and on the training tracks – often under difficult circumstances. So, by giving the Work Riders a chance to shine in the limelight -, and pick up some tidy bonuses in the process – Khaya Stables provides sincere recognition for their pivotal contribution to horse racing. 

The Khaya Stables Work Riders and Jockeys Championship Maiden Plate was the final race on the card at the SplashOut Seafood & Jazz Racing Festival at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth on 24 February. 


Images by Chase Liebenberg