Shergar Cup: Twenty questions

  • Last Updated: August 7 2014, 16:54 BST

Steffi Hofer and S'manga 'Bling' Khumalo, who are making their debuts at the Shergar Cup on Saturday, answer 20 questions.

  • Steffi Hofer posing with a team of ten acrobats in the shape of a racehorse
  • Steffi Hofer: Looking forward to the Shergar Cup 

Steffi Hofer (The Girls)

Profile

Born: September 7, 1987
Background: The leading female rider in Germany and daughter of two-time champion German trainer and ex-jockey Mario Hofer. Brought up with horses, her first racecourse ride came as an amateur at the age of 16. She had spells in England working for Newmarket handlers Paul D’Arcy and Sir Michael Stoute in 2003 and 2004. Like almost all aspiring professional riders in Germany, she attended the jockey school at Weidenpesch, Cologne. After 59 winners as an amateur, she took out her apprentice licence in October, 2007 and lost her right to claim in July, 2010 following 50 more successes. She has since amassed over 300 career victories. She has ridden twice in Britain without success, most recently when fifth in the Listed Cleves Stakes at Lingfield Park in February, 2010. She is just under five feet tall.
Accolades: Germany’s champion amateur in 2005 and 2007 and also three-time champion apprentice. Became only the second woman to ride in the German Derby when partnering Mi Senor, trained by her father, to finish 12th of 18 in 2011. First female rider to win a Group race in Germany courtesy of Smooth Operator in the Group Three Silberne Peitsche at Munich on May 1, 2012.

How much are you looking forward to the Shergar Cup?

I’m very happy to be here, it’s a unique event in front of many people so it should be exciting.

Do you think a team aspect works in horse racing?

Yes to work in a team is good so why not in horse racing? It’s good for the promotion of the sport.

Are you excited by the prospect of riding at Ascot?

Of course, there is a lot of history associated with the track and I can’t wait to ride there.

Have you got any superstitions before you go out to ride?

Not really, I do read the form again just before I leave the weighing room though.

You’ve ridden in Britain a couple of times before, I know you only have limited evidence but what are the main differences between riding in the UK and in Germany?

In Germany there are lots of tight, little tracks. In England they are much bigger and up and down so that would be the main difference.

What’s the best horse you’ve ridden in Germany?

Pastorius.

How he is doing?

He’s okay, he’s at stud now so I guess he’s enjoying himself!

How much of an influence on your career was your father – did he always want you to follow in his footsteps?

Obviously huge, I learnt a lot from him.

Which is your favourite horse in training and why?

Niyama, a two-year-old trained by my father. He’s won a couple of times including at Munich and is a really nice horse.

How confident are you that the girls can win?

If we get the right horses and work together as a team we can do it!

S’manga ‘Bling’ Khumalo (Rest of the World)

Profile

Born: November 29, 1985, Durban, South Africa. Background: He grew up in the KwaMashu township to the north of Durban. One of five children (three sisters and a brother), Khumalo’s mother was a domestic worker. He had no interest in horseracing until a recruitment officer from the Durban jockey academy visited his school - Mzuvele High School - and suggested that the diminutive teenager should become a jockey. Inspired by the story of Gift Funeka, who was also from KwaMashu and became the first black jockey to ride in the Durban July in 2000, Khumalo joined Durban jockey academy at the age of 14 and spent five years learning how to ride. He spent six months as an apprentice in Zimbabwe, where he enjoyed a first winner on board the Lisa Harris-trained Lightning Dawn at Borrowdale on September 7, 2003. He moved to Johannesburg to become stable apprentice to Alec Laird and also started to ride for Cyril Naidoo, Sean Tarry, Chris Erasmus and Joey Soma. He became the first indigenous African jockey to ride in Australia in 2009, and has also ridden in Kenya and Mauritius. Currently lives in Glenada, Johannesburg. Racing Achievements: has ridden more than 750 winners, including eight Grade One victories. Became the first black jockey to win the Durban July when partnering Heavy Metal to glory in July, 2013. Big Race Wins: Horse Chestnut Stakes (2011 Dancewiththedevil), Empress Club Stakes (2011 Dancewiththedevil, 2014 Along Came Polly), Summer Cup (2012 Wagner), President’s Champions Challenger (2013 Heavy Metal), Durban July (2013 Heavy Metal), Golden Slipper (2013 For The Lads), SA Nursery (2014 Carry On Alice).

How did you get the nickname 'Bling'?

It was because of my peroxide blonde hair. It’s not blonde today, though, I was missed my flight so the hair dye had to wait.

How did you get your big break?

I think when I first rode in the Durban July and things have got better and better since then. My career highlight came in the same race when I won it last year.

How much are you looking forward to the Shergar Cup?

I’m so excited. It’s a real honour to be asked to race in the UK.

Are you excited by the prospect of riding at Ascot?

Yes. I’ve never ridden here before and I am very happy to be here.

How are you enjoying being in the UK?

It’s great, it’s lots of fun. It’s busy promoting the event but it’s great for the sport and at least I get to see a bit of London.

Have you got any superstitions before you go out to ride?

No, I just go out there and ride the horses.

What do you expect to be the main difference to riding in the UK and in South Africa?

Our tracks in South Africa are very flat, but Ascot is up and down and round and up again so it’s a challenge. I’ll have to make sure I stay on the horse!

What’s the best horse you’ve ridden in South Africa?

Heavy Metal. He won the President’s Champions Challenger and the Durban July for me. I believe there is a horse in the UK with the same name.

Which is your favourite horse in training and why?

Carry On Alice after winning the SA Nursery for me recently.

How confident are you that the Rest Of The World team can win?

Our captain Craig Williams is a great jockey and I’m sure he can inspire us to victory.