No meddling about – Habib the man to watch

Calvin Habib (Credits to 4Racing)

Jockey Calvin Habib only narrowly missed out on a National Jockeys’ top-10 finish last season (with 93 wins) but has established himself among the country’s leading riders this term, booting home 141 at a respectable win strike-rate of 12% with a place return better than 41% from 1175 outings (statistics courtesy of the NHRA).

He has struck up a particularly formidable partnership with leading Highveld trainer Tony Peter, for whom he rides two attractive betting propositions on the Inside track at Turffontein on Thursday 11 July on the eight-race card.

Habib’s four rides for Peter include promising two-year-old Watchman in Race 3 over 1000m. This young Var colt was the subject of spirited betting support on debut over the same course and distance a fortnight ago, and he justified that market interest with a game-in-defeat second to a more experienced juvenile rival with solid form credentials.

Watchman belied his inexperience that day, leading for much of the way before being outrun in the latter stages, beaten just 0.2-lengths at the line under Habib. With the benefit of that run under his belt and natural improvement expected, Watchman ought to confirm the encouragement of that course-and-distance introduction by going one better in Leg 1 of the day’s Pick 6.

The Peter-Habib double will likely be completed by the stable’s recent recruit, Medlers Tart, in Race 5 over 2600m. This Master Of My Fate filly was far from disgraced in her first start on the Highveld since relocating from trainer Sharon Kotzen’s Eastern Cape base in late April.

Medlers Tart, who in her previous start ran second in the 2800m Non-Black Type Glenair Trophy at Fairview, was beaten only four lengths – giving the winner 4,5kg – over an inadequate 1800m on the Vaal Classic track and would’ve tightened up appreciably with that comeback outing three weeks ago under her belt. She will relish the sterner test of stamina and Habib, who rode her for the first time in her last start, should have a better understanding of his mount and what to expect of her.

Given Habib’s record of 12 wins and 31 places from 80 rides for trainer Stuart Pettigrew, it should pay to follow the progress of last-start winner Sound Machine on her reappearance in Race 7 over 1450m.

Habib steered this daughter of Var to a second course-and-distance victory (from as many outings) in a similar event on 12 May and a resultant five-point penalty is unlikely to halt the three-year-old filly’s momentum. And, while a deep draw in gate No 11 will provide a challenge to Habib, he is all too aware of Sound Machine’s impressive turn of foot that she displayed in winning last time out.

Clive Robinson

Author: Melissa