Mike de Kock
Mike de Kock

Mike de Kock

(Photo : British Champion Series)


Ascot, Turf, 1006m

18 June 2013

The Aussies like to refer to the Melbourne Cup as “the race that stops a nation”. That’s right enough, because it has been known to interrupt Parliament, too. But the Brits have a festival that stops a racing nation for a week: Royal Ascot, and it starts next week.

South Africa has a runner, a big one, and the ANZ caught up with Mike de Kock on the prospects for Shea Shea in Tuesday’s King’s Stand Stakes (Gr.1).

Yesterday morning, while out for a pick of grass in front of the media, his trainer answered questions on his preparation. Shea Shea won the Al Quoz Sprint (Gr1, 1000m) at Meydan in March and has been based at Abington Place in Newmarket since. “The British public make this meeting, their enthusiasm over the five days is amazing,” de Kock began. “He [Shea Shea] is looking well and his work has been fantastic. He came out of his race in Dubai in pleasing fashion and had a few weeks off afterwards. I am really happy with him; he is looking well in his coat, which is important with him being a Southern Hemisphere horse who should be changing his cycle, and the fact that the weather here has been a bit chilly.

“I believe he is the real deal. He can be difficult when going to the start and can get fired up before his races but we will be prepared and are looking forward to the race. His ideal ground is in the firmer spectrum but I am not too worried about it.” With the unpredictable weather present during British summer time, the ground can often be a worry for international contenders and Chris Stickels, Clerk of the course at Ascot, was available yesterday to give everyone an update on the current conditions.

“We have had a dry start to June so we have been putting on a little bit of water and I think the ground should be good when I return to the track this afternoon. The outlook over the next few days is unsettled and although we are expecting thunderstorms on Sunday and Monday, next week should mainly be dry. Ideally the ground on Tuesday will hopefully be good, good-to firm range and it will be if the forecast is correct. We will not need to water again if this is the case.”