A year-long ban from riding was handed to South African jockey JP van der Merwe after he rode in a race at Kranji in Singapore in September 2021. Many racing experts were astounded by the guilty decision – let alone the harsh punishment.
Even The Sun news website in the UK carried a video of the race and a multitude of watchers were aghast at the Singapore stipes’ judgment. After all, Van der Merwe, riding vigorously, got his widely drawn mount Fast And Fearless up from last place to second. The winner, meanwhile, was easing up for a comfortable two-length victory margin.
In many countries, this would have been seen as a good ride from Van der Merwe, grabbing the runner-up spoils from nowhere, without any real chance of catching the winner. At most, he might have been accused of a bit of mistiming, but hardly a gross infringement of rules.
But the Kranji fuzz reckoned our Van deliberately didn’t get vigorous early enough and would have won if he had stirred up his horse sooner.
On appeal, the sentence was reduced to six months. Unsurprisingly, the jockey bit the bullet and got the hell out of the Asian city-state – where he’d been successful over a few years – and hightailed it back home. Talk about knowing when you’re not wanted!
In early March, his six months up, Van der Merwe started taking mounts on the Highveld and it wasn’t long before he was back among the winners. In the past month he has clocked up five from 60 rides.
On Tuesday at the Vaal Classic meeting, JP could add a couple more to the tally.
In Race 3, he does duty for trainer Alec Laird on Orgetorix, who looks a fair bet to break his maiden at the ninth time of asking.
In the seventh, he partners Mike de Kock’s progressive filly Humdinger, whose form points to a third career win.
1: 1 Harold The Duke, 5 Kissed By Fire, 2 Royal Siege, 4 Elusive Rocket
2: 4 Mover And Shaker, 3 Mescal, 5 Tanganga, 7 Southern Style
3: 3 Orgetorix, 5 Brenden James, 10 Twice As Wild, 2 Maradiva
4: 9 Midnight Crystal, 1 Mix The Magic, 2 Red Hot, 4 La Banquiere
5: 7 Cap Estel, 5 Clarkson, 1 Mystery Boy, 2 Flying Grace
6: 6 Wikkel Spikkel, 4 Sybaris, 2 Trump My Queen, 3 Code Zero
7: 9 Humdinger, 6 Un Deux Trois, 4 Elusive Current, 5 Magical Flight
8: 8 Queen Bomi, 2 Fire Flower, 9 Ms Flower Power, 4 Bella Rosa
Pick 6: 3,5 x 1,2,4,9 x 1,2,5,7,8,11 x 2,3,4,6 x 4,5,6,9 x 2,8 (R1536)
PA: 2,4 x 3 x 1,9 x 1,5,7 x 4,6 x 6,9 x 8 (R48)