ilitshe derby trial
ilitshe derby trial

Ilitshe - Derby Trial (Listed) / JC Photographics (p)


Turffontein, Turf, 2000m

5 April 2014

Ilitshe dug down determinedly and hung on by a whisker to win Saturday’s Listed Derby Trial over 2000m on the standside track at Turffontein from the grey Everest and Leeuloop Jet.

Ilitshe had a length to spare over his rivals with the winning post just 100m away, but Everest found a second wind and in a driving finish came mighty close to running the Mike de Kock runner down, indeed it looked like Randall Simons may have pushed his mount’s grey nose in front as they hit the wire.

Touch and go it was, but after studying the photo the judge awarded the race to Ilitshe. That’s really all that mattered to Anthony Delpech, who remains unbeaten on Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum’s charge, having partnered him to a hat-trick of workmanlike wins in the last six-odd weeks. Delpech will be weighing up his chances of a four-timer because Ilitshe’s way of running suggests that he’ll be well suited by 2450m when the Derby is contested at the city track on Champions Day, 26 April.

It will be interesting to see if the jock decides to stay with Ilitshe. His useful stable mates Umgiyo, Taarish and Gone Baby Gone are also among the nominations and it won’t be all that easy to anticipate which one will make the most improvement in the run-up to the Grade 1 marathon for three-year-old stayers.

They may all be hard-pressed to beat Geoff Woodruff’s top class, Triple Crown-seeking runner, Louis The King, but no horse race is ever over until the number’s in the frame. The Derby has a knack of throwing up unexpected results. Assistant trainer Mathew de Kock knows that all too well - a few years ago the rising star Pierre Jourdan drew a huge crowd to Turffontein for his own attempt at lifting the elusive crown, but was beaten in the region of 10 lengths by the De Kock stable’s then new acquisition Irish Flame, who excelled at the excruciating journey and enjoyed the soft track condition on the day.

“They’ll have us to beat,” Matt predicted in reference to the Derby after Ilitshe’s win. “Well done to Nathan Kotzen and the Durban team. Ilitshe was sent to us on Wednesday and he arrived in impeccable condition. We didn’t do much with him here, we’d heard he was a difficult horse but there were no problems with him this week.”

Delpech commented: “There was no pace today and knowing that Ilitshe wouldn’t sprint away I was happy to let him gallop out in front with the rest having to come at him. They actually headed us in the straight and Ilitshe came back to win a good race. He looked around when he was in front, but when the penny drops he’ll be a proper horse, I like him. I was worried about his mental attitude today because he is troublesome in work, but he won a great race, he will improve.”

Ilitshe is a Summerhill Stud graduate of the 2012 Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale by Fastnet Rock (AUS) from a Sadler’s Wells mare, Reem Albaraari (GB) and he’s won over R200,000 in only six starts.

Extract from Mike de Kock Racing