Swinger is swinging – and so is Bling

After the battering punters took at the weekend's Gold Cup meeting in Durban and the Phumelela business rescue process being plunged into new uncertainty, a glimmer of light is welcome. A TAB and TABgold media release said: "SA-based Swinger pools on UK races currently average some R2,500 but customers can look forward to much bigger pools going forward. "Commingling will enhance liquidity and make payouts more robust, enabling TAB customers to take bigger Swinger bets on UK races without significantly impacting dividends." The R1 unit for the Swinger remains unchanged and UK rules for the bet are virtually identical to...
After the battering punters took at the weekend's Gold Cup meeting in Durban and the Phumelela business rescue process being plunged into new uncertainty, a glimmer of light is welcome.

A TAB and TABgold media release said: "SA-based Swinger pools on UK races currently average some R2,500 but customers can look forward to much bigger pools going forward.

"Commingling will enhance liquidity and make payouts more robust, enabling TAB customers to take bigger Swinger bets on UK races without significantly impacting dividends."

The R1 unit for the Swinger remains unchanged and UK rules for the bet are virtually identical to those in SA. A Swinger involves predicting two of the first three finishers in a race.

Anyone who caught a Swinger – or indeed any bet – on the WSB Gold Cup will be well positioned to take those "bigger" bets TAB is on about.

Gold Cup winner Paths Of Victory started at 40-1, while second-placed Paybackthemoney was at 44-1 and third-placed Flichity By Farr at 75-1.

This saw Swinger payouts of R89.10, R277.50 and R181.60 – princely for a bet type that normally sees relatively modest returns.

A Trifecta of R31,287 seemed a little disappointing in the circumstances, but a Quartet dividend of R703,397 – taking in fourth-placed Eyes Wide Open (14-1) – was more like what you'd expect following a Beirut-scale "boom" at Greyville racecourse.

The poise of jockey S'manga Khumalo was not only evident as he steered Paths Of Victory to that stunning start-to-finish WSB Gold Cup victory, but also in the rider's eloquent words in the after-race interview.

The former champion jockey, nicknamed "Bling" for his sometime peroxided hair and flashy accoutrements, has endured some lean times professionally since he became a national hero as the first black rider to win the Durban July.

But talent will out. And a more mature, determined Bling looks ready to fully realise that always-huge potential.

Horses run for the fellow; he has uncommon "feel" for what a mount needs in a particular situation – as shown by his description of the Gold Cup action.

A pre-race strategy devised with trainer Gareth van Zyl, to seek cover for the marathon 3200m journey before striking late, went out of the window very early as Khumalo sensed Paths Of Victory was in galloping mood.

He let the horse have his head and set a fast pace. Just about everyone expected the five-year-old to tire and fade out in the finishing stretch – but not Bling. He knew the gelding had much in reserve: "At the 400 I crouched low. He was enjoying it and just wanted to go."

Multiple challenges were rebuffed as Khumalo registered his second Gold Cup – following Enaad in 2016 – and Van Zyl his first.

The trainer, also revealing a touchy-feely side, said he'd sensed the jockey was "in the zone" before the race.

The win might herald the start of a championship bid from Khumalo. He ended the first month of the new season on top of the national log with 12 winners – one ahead of Criag Zackey and Grant van Niekerk.

Reigning champ Warren Kennedy and the man he succeeded, Lyle Hewitson, are both on eight winners after the first round, with another perennial challenger, Muzi Yeni, on six.

The jockey log will be fascinating to watch during September and October as candidates jostle for position and a running order emerges.

At least it will be all about actual racing, unlike the business rescue fandango which has become infinitely more complicated in recent days with testy bidding for the ruins of Phumelela from rivals MOD and Betfred – not to mention an urgent court challenge to the process from KwaZulu-Natal operator Gold Circle.

A delay looks likely for the crunch voting meeting of "interested parties" scheduled for Tuesday, 1 September.

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