Viewing entries in
Hong Kong Racing


christophe soumillon jockey
christophe soumillon jockey

Christophe Soumillon

(Photo : Journal de l’Equitation)


News yesterday morning, was that Europe’s best jockey, Christophe Soumillon had confirmed his availability for the ride on Imbongiin next week’s Hong Kong Mile. It’s no different to the motor racing world, where it matters whether you get Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton or Michael Schumacher. The jockey counts, and this a first step in the right direction.

Imbongi is still sitting in Dubai, awaiting the conclusion of his quarantine after a cracker of a season during the Carnival, and ran a “buster” of a run on World Cup night. He must’ve been looking forward to his break, though Mike de Kock knows, you can’t rest forever. The Hong Kong Mile is always one of the most competitive events at the distance in the world, and this one will be no different. Imbongi will have to be at the top of his game to justify Soumillon’s trip across the eight time zones to partner him.

Knowing Imbongi, he’ll make it count. 


Sha Tin, 1600m, Turf

25 April 2010

Final Selections



Int Rating


Weight (lb)



Hong Kong




Derek Cruz


Hong Kong




Tony Cruz


Hong Kong




Paul O’Sullivan


Hong Kong




John Size


Hong Kong




John Moore


Hong Kong




Tony Cruz






John Hawkes


Hong Kong




Danny Shum


Great Britain




Brian Meehan


South Africa




Mike de Kock


Hong Kong




John Moore


Hong Kong




Caspar Fownes


Hong Kong




John Size

Note :

** International Group 1 Winner

* Hong Kong Group 1 Winner

Hong Kong Champions Mile Group 1 : POST MORTEM

Champions Mile Gr1 2009
Sha Tin, Hong Kong

Mike de Kock is back in South Africa, so we can all breathe a sigh of relief. The man is a national treasure, and when it comes to the reputation of South African racehorses and their exportability, nobody’s done more for the game. We picked up on him shortly after he landed, and his feelings about Imbongi’s run (he finished just on two lengths behind the winner), was that he would’ve been a lot closer had he not lost ground on the bend. There was no explanation for it, other than the horse had a little bit of the “slows” midway through the race, yet he ran on resolutely, to get within two lengths of the winner, winding up 6th with a cheque in hand.

Mike’s feeling is that the setbacks his horses suffered in Dubai in the month leading to the World Cup, left them a little short in terms of their preparations, and he feels we’ll see a good bit of improvement when they start up their motors in England in the next month or two. Stay with us, there’ll be more to come from Imbongi.

ANTHONY DELPECH : A Star in Racing's Firmament

There are not many of us who understand what it takes to be a world-class race jockey. One man who’s had an almost uncanny association with the best horses from Summerhill, is Anthony Delpech.

THE CHAMPIONS MILE (Gr.1) : Sunday dawns in Hong Kong

Imbongi 23 April 2009
(Photo : Hong Kong Jockey Club)

You can go into any worthwhile website on racing anywhere in the world right now, and you can pick up news of this weekend’s big events in Hong Kong, including the Champions Mile. However, the one thing you won’t get is a statement from the horse’s mouth, so we thought we’d bring you news of our most recent bulletin from Mike de Kock, who sends our home-bred, Imbongi to post on Sunday.

Anyone hoping to make any sort of impression in this race would have to take history into account in their calculations, knowing that in all its time, the Hong Kong Champions Mile has yet to witness a placed runner among its foreign raiders, and that last year’s spectacular hero, Good Ba Ba reached the post in an amazing 1min 31.3 secs, and you know what you’re up against.

However, Mike de Kock is of the firm view that Imbongi is a real contender, provided he is over the troubles which confronted so many of the Mike de Kock stable in Dubai over the World Cup, and if Imbongi can get back to a modicum of the form which carried him to stardom in two Guineas and a triumph over Horse Of The Year, Pocket Power ans well as four other Grade One winners in the Drill Hall last season. Mike tells us though, that Imbongi managed an official “bullet” 21,5 secs for the last 400m of his final workout on Tuesday. If that’s not notice he’s ready to run for his life, tell us what is?

Keep your heads down, there could be an explosion Sunday morning (9:55 am our time).

Imbongi and Archipenko working well in Hong Kong

imbongi and archipenkoArchipenko (left) and Imbongi (right)
(Photo :

Racingweb reports that Archipenko and Imbongi enjoyed a refreshing time in the wash bay after their Saturday workout at Sha-Tin racecourse in Hong Kong.

Mike de Kock’s runners are being prepared for this week’s Audemars Piguet QEII Cup and Hong Kong Mile respectively and assistant trainer Steven Jell tells “Archie with Kevin Shea and Imbongi ridden by Jeff Lloyd worked together over 1400m on the grass track proper at Sha-Tin today (Saturday) and they were impressive.”

“We’ve had quite a lot of rain so the track is in good condition. They picked up speed from the 800m mark and completed the last 400m in an official 21.5s, very good. Both are looking well and we’re looking forward to next week.”

Mike de Kock himself will be jetting to Hong Kong within the next few days.


hong kong horse racingScenes from Hong Kong
(Photo : Hong Kong Jockey Club)

“A piece from Mick Goss”

Growing up in one of the remotest parts of the world as the son of a Pondo trader, I never imagined myself as the owner of an international class racehorse, let alone partnering a member of a nation’s ruling family and running for R14million, at Group One level. Yet that is what Imbongi has done for Summerhill Stud, and next weekend he gets his chance to take on some of the world’s best milers in the Hong Kong Mile (Gr.1). His travel mate, Archipenko, showered himself in glory as the hero of last year’s Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup (Gr.1), and he returns this year to defend his crown.

Hard on the heels of Summerhill-bred, raised and educated Paris Perfect’s $600,000 romp in the Dubai World Cup (Gr.1), and Art Of War’s stand out billing from Mike de Kock as the “biggest surprise of the Dubai Carnival”, Imbongi now gets his chance to show to the world what made him the most formidable three-year-old miler in South Africa last year.

Keep a check on Mike de Kock’s website for all the latest news from Hong Kong.


Archipenko and Imbongi arrive in Hong Kong

Imbongi arrives in Hong Kong
(Photo : Hong Kong Jockey Club)

News from Mike de Kock is that Archipenko and Imbongi have arrived safely in Hong Kong where they are set to do battle in the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup and Champions Mile respectively.

With combined stakes of HK$26million, these two Group 1 races will witness an international field of top-class horses, come Sunday 26 April at Sha Tin racecourse.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club reports that, “this year’s renewal of the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup will feature two former champions in Archipenko and Viva Pataca and we are also delighted to have leading competitors from Australia, France, Great Britain, South Africa and the United States.”

“In the Champions Mile, we are delighted that increasing the race’s purse by 50 per cent to HK$12million has resulted in its strongest ever field. Four very interesting runners representing Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates will try to break a local stranglehold in this race but Good Ba Ba, the reigning champion and Horse of the Year, still appears the one to beat.”

Audemars Piguet has been a terrific supporter of Hong Kong racing. This, in fact, is the 11th year for our partners, the master Swiss watchmakers, to sponsor the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup, the season’s springtime showcase,” said Mr William A Nader, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director of Racing. This meeting has clearly become a very important day of international racing which, I’m sure, will enthrall fans from around the world.”

Audemars Piguet QEII Cup Gr1
HK$14million (approximately US$1.8million)
Ratings Order

Viva Pataca - Six-time Gr.1 winner, including a comfortable success in this race in 2007. Completed his preparation for this event with a sound third-placed run from top weight in last weekend’s Chairman’s Trophy (HK Gr.2).

Archipenko - Scored readily in this race last year to precede a Gr.2 win in England and an unlucky reverse in the Arlington Million. Started favourite for the Dubai Duty Free last month but was never dangerous in sixth.

Presvis - Capped a fine Dubai International Carnival with a fine runners-up finish in the Dubai Duty Free from a wide barrier and looks to be still on the upgrade.

Niconero - Veteran winner of five Gr.1 races is in the form of his life. Has twice collected at the highest level and finished a creditable fourth in the Dubai Duty Free in recent weeks.

Packing Winner - HK Gr.1 winner of the Citi Champions & Chater Cup last year from Viva Pataca having run fourth in this event.

Artiste Royal - American-trained Gr.1 winner who was not tested when hemmed in on the rails in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup last December. Has since won at Gr.2 level in California.

Chinchon- Three times placed in French Pattern events, including once last year in front of Collection, the subsequent Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby champion.

Thumbs Up - Triumphant in the HK Gr.1 Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Classic Mile in January and runner-up to Collection in the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby last month.

Bullish Cash - Triumphant in the HK Gr.3 Premier Plate last season and placed in the same race last month.

Viva Macau - Dual winner of the Ladies’ Purse (Class 1) and Gr.1 placed both locally and in France.

Roma Pegasus - Fifth in both the Randwick and Rosehill Guineas in Australia before similar finishes in the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Classic Mile, Derby Trial and Derby.

Danesis- Runner-up in his last start in the HKGr.3 Premier Plate to leap to a triple figure HK rating.

Champions Mile Gr1
HK$12million (approximately US$1.54million)
Ratings Order

Good BaBa- Six-time Gr.1 winner, current Horse of the Year and defending champion of this race. His international rating of 124 for winning the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile is the highest ever accorded to a Hong Kong horse.

Egyptian Ra - Only two horses are rated higher in Hong Kong after his all-the-way success in the HK Gr.1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup from Good Ba Ba. He won the HK Gr.2 Cathay Pacific International Mile Trial in similar fashion.

More Bountiful - Shot up by 21lbs in the ratings - a record rise this decade - in the wake of his authoritative success in the Chairman’s Trophy (HK Gr.2) last time.

Alexandros- Career best performance last time out when third in the Dubai Duty Free on the back of two earlier wins at the Dubai International Carnival for Godolphin.

Armada- Former Champion Miler for winning the HK Gr.1 Stewards’ Cup in 2007. Runner-up in both this race and the Yasuda Kinen last year.

Fellowship - Placed in his last three starts, two of those at the highest level and knocking on the door of his maiden HK Gr.1 victory.

Imbongi- Dual Gr.2 winner and also Gr.1 runner-up in South Africa.

Collection - The new star of Hong Kong racing after his terrific triumph in the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby. Drops back in distance here.

Sight Winner - Most Improved Horse in Hong Kong last season and his consistency in the best local races has maintained the upward curve this season.

Dao Dao - Four wins last season for John Size in Hong Kong and a Listed winner in Sydney last weekend for his former trainer, John Hawkes.

Sir Slick - Six-time Gr.1 winner in New Zealand where he is known as the ‘People’s Champion’.

Unique Jewellery - Winner of the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby Trial and a commendable fourth in the Classic itself.

Gem Of Chiu Ton - Listed placed in England before arriving in Hong Kong where he appears on the verge of a breakthrough success.

1 Comment

HONG KONG BREEDERS CLUB : No wonder they like Danehill

Tip : Turn up your volume

Two years ago, the Hong Kong Breeders Club made their first South African investment, and it will come as no surprise to our readers to know that it was in the Danehill stallion, Way West. Peter Yip, the brains behind the organisation, has been involved in the breeding of racehorses for many years in Australia and New Zealand, and he’s one fellow you don’t have to convince when it comes to Danehill’s influence. He knew something when he put his money down on Way West, because he knew him as a racehorse in Australia, and unsurprisingly, in view of what we have to report here, he was quick to put his hand up when he heard Stronghold was coming to Summerhill.

His inspiration comes from the quality Danehill stallion, Danroad, who stands at Highview Stud in New Zealand, and who’s one spot below Zabeel on the New Zealand leading sires table, with his first crop just three year olds. Already a sire of an Australian Group One winning two-year-old in Rockdale, his sophomore son, Down The Road, skated in a few weeks back in the ORC Championship Stakes (Gr.2), and just bobbed on the line in a tight finish for the $2.2 million New Zealand Derby (Gr.1).

In the same Auckland Cup Week, his daughter Amazing Sky was an impressive winner on the second day of the carnival, having posted a Stakes performance as a two-year-old last season. For a horse with only 45 and 38 foals from his first two crops, he’s off to a stirring start, and he’s another example of why we keep banging on about South Africa’s dearth of quality racing sons of what is indisputably the greatest sire of sires the southern hemisphere has known.

For the record, Danroad was a winner of the Wakefield Challenge Stakes (Gr.3) and was placed in Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes (Gr.1) as a two-year-old. He follows the pattern of all of Danehill’s most distinguished sons, being a graded stakes winner with good form between 6 and 8 furlongs. The Summerhill trio of Way West, Stronghold and Solskjaer have just that in common: they’re all Graded stakes winners and each of them has form between 6 and 8 furlongs, with Solskjaer stretching his class to 10 furlongs.

1 Comment

FELIX COETZEE : Tributes to a Master Horseman

felix coetzee & john cc chanJohn C C Chan and Felix Coetzee
(Photo : Hong Kong Jockey Club)

South African master horseman, Felix Coetzee, bid farewell to Hong Kong Racing at the end of last year after an “experiment” that lasted 16 years, in order to reunite with his family in Cape Town.

On 20 December 2008 at Sha Tin Racecourse, The Hong Jockey Club presented Felix Coetzee with a silver dish in recognition of his contribution to Hong Kong Racing. Bloodhorse reports that tributes poured in with a personal tribute from Hong Kong Jockey Club CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges heading the moving list of commendations by stating that Felix Coetzee is the “the most professional jockey I’ve ever worked with or seen.”

In 1992 Felix Coetzee commenced riding in Hong Kong, originally serving as a stable-retained jockey for Brian Kan Ping-chee, a larger-than-life trainer with firm views on just about everything.

When Pocket Money won the opening race on the Cathay Pacific International card on 14 December 2008, Felix Coetzee’s Hong Kong statistics rested at 6052 races ridden with an acculation of 643 winners and earnings of KH$572 million in stakes.

His most famous association in Hong Kong came as the riding half of the “C team,” with the trainer being former six-time champion jockey Tony Cruz.

“I won two championships with Felix as my retained jockey,” Tony Cruz began. “We won two Derbys, a Hong Kong Mile (HK-I) with Lucky Owners, and 17 straight wins with Silent Witness. While Felix was riding for me, we broke George Moore’s record for the number of wins in a season, and the all-time single-season prize money record too. It will be very hard to get a person to replace Felix Coetzee.”

Bill Nader, Hong Kong Jockey Club Executive Director of Racing, has been in the job less than two years but his admiration of Felix Coetzee is almost as great as those who’ve known him much longer.

“Felix has been a great asset to Hong Kong racing over the last 16 years as a world-class jockey and a great ambassador for the sport,” said Bill Nader.”He was a big part of our greatest success story as the regular rider of Silent Witness and, leading by example, he has helped younger jockeys appreciate and understand the professional work ethic needed to develop their skills. He will always be respected as a terrific judge of pace and for the enthusiasm he consistently demonstrated for his chosen profession. We wish him every success in his return to South Africa and hope to see him often as a return visitor to Hong Kong.”

Watch a farewell tribute to Felix Coetzee
Race 10 at Sha Tin Racecourse, 20 December 2008.


ealine lawlor mick goss nicola yipElaine Lawlor, Mick Goss, Nicola Yip
(Summerhill Stud)

Ensconced between Goffs (Ireland) Director, Elaine “Legs” Lawlor and the Hong Kong Breeder’s Club’s Nicola Yip.

And talking of “legs”, you ain’t seen nothin’ till you’ve seen these!


SHADAI FARM : The Legacy Of Another Genius

In a remarkable coincidence, at one of our morning management meetings (these take place every day at 6:45 am, and are attended by 16 of the farm’s management team, some of whom drive all the way from places as far afield as Pietermaritzburg, Howick, Estcourt etc, we were involved in a discussion about Japan’s Shadai Farm. It arose because of a correspondence between ourselves and Katsumi Yoshida, (son of the late, great Zenya). Katsumi Yoshida is the owner of Northern Farm, current Champion breeders in Japan, where Mick’s son, Chris has spent the past 2 ½ years. Katsumi is a friend of Summerhill’s, and he was so impressed with Mike de Kock’s famous victory with Eagle Mountain in the Hong Kong Cup (Gr.1) a fortnight ago, that he’s asked us to facilitate a visit to Mike’s South African stable, taking in Summerhill en-route.

As so often happens in these instances, we began to reflect on the achievements of the most famous of all Japanese breeders, Katsumi’s late father, Zenya Yoshida, founder of Shadai Farm. The conversation turned to the first really important stallion to stand in Japan, a son of Northern Dancer by the name of Northern Taste, and we proffered the suggestion that he couldn’t have been a terribly expensive horse, notwithstanding his bloodlines, because of the somewhat ghostly appearance of the horse’s face, whose white-splashed blaze eclipsed his left eye. Truth is, horses don’t run with their eyes, nor with their blazes, and Northern Taste was a stalwart in Europe, where his most famous victory included the Prix de la Foret (Gr.1) contested over the 1400 m of Longchamp’s fabled racecourse.

Northern Taste went on to secure ten National Sires titles in Japan in eleven years, and has been the perennial champion broodmare sire ever since. Just last weekend, the Arima Kinen (Gr.1), as important as any race in Japan outside the Japan Cup (Gr.1), was taken by Daiwa Scarlet, a granddaughter of the most famous of all Shadai stallions, Sunday Silence, from a Northern Taste mare, and this story was reported in the American Thoroughbred Daily News within hours of our conversation at the morning meeting. Coincidentally, the story of Northern Taste’s acquisition is revealed in full, and Andrew Caulfield, as good as they get in the pedigree field, felt compelled to share his thoughts on Daiwa Scarlet’s pedigree.

“Northern Taste, a son of Northern Dancer bred by Windfields Farm, raced in the colors of the late Zenya Yoshida after being bought as a yearling for $100,000 in 1972. This was a comparatively modest sum for a youngster whose sire was responsible for such as Nijinsky, Fanfreluche, One For All, True North, Northfields, Lauries Dancer and Alma North in his first few crops. I suspect that Northern Taste’s price might have been inhibited by his markings. His broad white face extended just beyond his left eye, and his flashiness also included two lengthy socks. Perhaps would be buyers also had qualms about his being inbred 3x2 to Lady Angela, even though this famous mare numbered Nearctic among her many winners.

Needless to say, Northern Taste proved an excellent buy, becoming a Group 3 winner at two before developing into a high-class performer at up to a mile at three, when he took the G1 Prix de la Foret. He also finished fifth in the Derby on one of the rare occasions he ventured beyond a mile, so it was no great surprise that he went on to sire winners of the Japanese Derby and Oaks and even of the two-mile Tenno Sho (Spring).

He was Japan’s champion sire 10 times in an 11-year period, and his success laid the foundations of the Shadai Farm empire which flourishes to this day.”


MIKE DE KOCK : The Legend Grows

eagle mountain and kevin sheaEagle Mountain with Kevin Shea aboard
(AP Photo)

The legend surrounding South African trainer Mike de Kock continues to grow and a brilliant gallop by Eagle Mountain to land yesterday’s HK$20 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup is just the latest chapter in a story that is far from over. Mike de Kock has won two editions of the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup with Irridescence and Archipenko and has now claimed his first December international with a horse rated by the man himself as better than any of his recent stars.

Eagle Mountain, ran out a comfortable winner of Hong Kong’s richest race under the guidance of Kevin Shea, scoring by 1-1/4 lengths from French raider Balius. Linngari, trained at Newmarket by Sir Michael Stoute and on his third sortie to Sha Tin, ran third and odds-on favourite Viva Pataca a luckless fourth.

Mike de Kock had been bullish about Eagle Mountain all week, “I thought coming into this race that he was as good as Archipenko and as good as Sun Classique, or better, so that gave us a very good pointer to where he was,” said Mike de Kock. “But the way he’s improving, he’s probably better than they are. I can say with hindsight that we were very confident, because the most important thing was that everything had gone well since we got here. The key thing with travelling horses is that when they get to their destination, they put their head in the manger, and that’s what this horse did.”

Mike de Kock agreed with the suggestion that after his Breeders’ Cup Turf second, and backing it up with yesterday’s huge win, Eagle Mountain is a horse that can and will compete on any stage. Eagle Mountain will now return to Dubai and be set for the “Super Thursday” meeting in early March. “After that, we’ll decide which way to go - to the 1800m race or the 2400,” he said.

The races under consideration are two of the richest turf races in the world (each worth US$5 million) - the Dubai Duty Free (1,777m) or the Dubai Sheema Classic (2,400m) on World Cup night.

(edited article by Murray Bell from ANZ Bloodstock News)


ASIAN RACING CONFERENCE - Maximizing Racing Value

asian racing conferenceEquine Veterinary Science Session
(Photo : Asian Racing Conference)

Wednesday at the 32nd Asian Racing Conference stimultated varied and thorough discussions on how to maximize the value of racing.

Dr. Isamu Takizawa, the Japan Racing Association’s Presidential Counselor for Foreign Affairs, set the tone for the third plenary session with the opening remarks, in which he stressed the need for racing to reach out to a wider audience.

“We must pay attention to domestic and international audiences in order to appeal to a wider client base,” Dr. Isamu Takizawa said. “The answers are pretty simple: when we look at the pinnacle event of other sports such as the Olympic Games, the FIFA World Cup and the Masters in golf. They are genuinely international competitions, and simply and easy to understand. Indeed, our aim is to build thoroughbred racing into a popular sport that is loved and watched by people around the world.”

The nine presenters - among them trainer and former star jockey Michael Roberts - agreed that regardless of issue, the 22 member nations of the Asian Racing Federation would have to work hand in hand if the sport were to reach another height of popularity.

William Nader, Executive Director of The Hong Kong Jockey Club, pointed out that the ARF needs an ambassador to carry racing around the continent and to the rest of the world like the other sports that have been successful.

“It is interesting, however, that we choose the word Challenge to describe a series of races like the Global Sprint and the Asian Mile format, because these series to come with unique challenges - the biggest of which are related to travel,” William Nader said.

“Participation is a key driver in any major sport where the major stars like Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Lewis Hamilton and others routinely travel as part of building interest and awareness in their own identity and the identity of their respective sport.”

Improving the overall quality of the product is another aspect that must be addressed, and Horse Racing Ireland’s Chief Executive Brian Kavanagh suggested the hugely successful Irish way would be one way of doing it.

“We aim to stage a high quality and competitive race program in Ireland, underpinned by attractive prize money and progressive elimination of opportunities for lower quality horses,” Brian Kavanagh said.

“This is born out of necessity given the number of horses in our country and to encourage owners to reinvest and upgrade the quality of their stock. This leads to much frustration on the part of owners and trainers, but following initial resistance, there has been general acceptance for the principle of less racing, more emphasis on quality and a high minimum prize money level.”

Dominic Beirne, Director of Intelligent Wagering Solutions, said a worldwide standardized ratings, rankings and language must accompany the globalization of racing, and the ARF, given its representation of half the international racing community, is in an excellent position to kickstart the process.

“The ARF is well placed therefore to instigate a ratings and rankings information service on half the world’s racehorses, which should lead to the inclusion of the Americas and Europe, resulting in a Global Free Handicap,” said Dominic Beirne. “There will naturally be opposition to the idea of creating a Global Free Handicap, yet all decent ideas present significant challenges. The globalization of racing demands the standardization of ratings, rankings and language.”

The topic of medication and drugs was also addressed. Dr. Brian Stewart, The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Head of Veterinary Regulation and International Liaison, equine medication ought to be harmonized internationally, to create a level playing field as well as welfare and safety.

“It seems very logical to pursue harmonization of medication testing sensitivity, but this is a controversial topic and there are inevitably heated discussions about the subject when analysts, veterinarians, horsemen and racing administrators discuss the subject,” Dr. Brian Stewart said.

“The ARF racing authorities are in a position to lead the world in achieving some consistency of medication policy and harmonization of the sensitivity of testing for therapeutic medications and should grasp the opportunity to do so.”

James Murdoch QC, Barrister-at-Law, echoed Stewart while calling for a racing program completely free of drugs.

“The solution may lie in adopting an International Anti-horse Doping Rule,” said James Murdoch. “Will it be difficult to achieve? Yes. Will it assist in securing the future of racing? Yes.”

Also speaking were Nigel Gray, Head of Handicapping and Race Planning of The HKJC; Bart Sinclair, Turf Editor of The Courier Mail; Dr. Ed Houghton, Chair of the Advisory Council on Prohibited Substances of the IFHA; and Tsunekazu Takeda, President of the Japan Olympic Committee.



"Inbreeding to the great DANZIG" by Andrew Caulfield

danzig stallionDanzig
(Shaun Faust)

A few years ago, when discussing the concept of inbreeding to the great Danzig, I wrote: “The potential problem of inbreeding to Danzig, of course, was one of soundness, or the lack of it. Remember, Danzig’s exciting debut victory in the June of his two-year-old season was immediately followed by the discovery of bone chips. Away from the races for over 10 months, Danzig returned the following May to record two impressive allowance victories. Unfortunately, X-rays taken after his third success revealed that a slab fracture was developing in a knee and Danzig was forced into retirement before he had tackled stakes company.”

I was quick to point out that Danzig’s progeny have a reputation for being sounder than their sire - as you can see from Danzig’s up-to-date statistics, which show that 77 percent of his 1074 named foals made it to the races and around 62 percent made it into the winner’s circle. More to the point, more than 18 percent of Danzig’s foals became stakes winners, with this extraordinary percentage representing a huge incentive for trying to reinforce his influence by inbreeding.

Inbreeding to Danzig is likely to become quite widespread in Europe, where the Thoroughbred population is steeped in the blood of the Claiborne Farm superstar. The main European standard bearers of the Danzig male line have been Danehill and Green Desert, both of whom are developed thriving male lines. Fortunately, the racing records of both these stallions were reassuringly free of the soundness problems which beset their sire.

Despite being almost back at the knee, Danehill was sound enough to win the G1 Sprint Cup on his ninth and final appearance. Aidan O’Brien was asked to summarise the main virtues of Danehill’s stock after Duke of Marmalade had recorded his fifth consecutive Group 1 victory in the Juddmonte International three days ago.

“I suppose it’s their constitution - their toughness and their speed and their strength,” he said. “They’re three massive things - strength physically as well as mentally.”

When prompted by the interviewer to add soundness to the list, Aidan O’Brien agreed: “Obviously soundness. This horse (Duke of Marmalade) is a testimony to that, but that comes with strength.”

Green Desert was another individual whose career was comparatively problem free. Sufficiently forward to make his juvenile debut in May, he was racing for the 14th time when he failed to handle the dirt in the following year’s Breeder’s Cup Sprint. Oddly, there were some distinct parallels between his career and that of Danehill a few years later. Both won the Free Handicap over seven furlongs before reaching the first three in the 2000 Guineas. Subsequent efforts over a mile convinced both sets of connections to return their Danzig colts to sprint distances and both collected a pair of important victories, including one in the Sprint Cup at Haydock.

With unsoundness apparently not a serious concern, breeders have been quick to try combining Danehill and Green Desert, and last week’s results suggest that we will see much more of this inbreeding to Danzig in the future. Two of Europe’s important juvenile events fell to colts which have sons of Danehill as their sire and daughters of Green Desert as their second dam, creating 3x4 inbreeding to Danzig.

Firstly, we saw Dansili’s son Shaweel run over a clear-cut winner of the G2 Gimcrack Stakes, and then Bushranger  provided Danetime with his second successive victory in the G1 Prix Morny.

This type of cross had also hit the jackpot earlier this year when the G1 Coral-Eclipse was won narrowly by Mount Nelson. This four-year-old is by Rock of Gibraltar, another son of Danehill, and his third dam is by Green Desert.

In view of the concerns about soundness involved in inbreeding to Danzig, it is worth pointing out that the sires of these three group winners were all sound enough to undergo a thorough testing on the track, with Dansili, Danetime and Rock of Gibraltar respectively being veterans of 14, 15 and 13 races. The reverse cross - a Green Desert stallion on mares with Danehill blood - is also sure to become popular.

Cape Cross has already sired three stakes winners from his first five foals out of Danehill’s daughters, these stakes winners being inbred 3x3 to Danzig. Arguably the best of them is Able One, a New Zealand-bred who won the G1 Champions Mile in Hong Kong last year, but the English-trained Crosspeace was much better than his listed winner-status suggests, as he achieved annual Timeform ratings of 116 and 118.

Cape Cross’ talented miler Sentinelese is another inbred 3x3 to Danzig, but his second line comes via Polish Patriot rather than Danehill, and his Group 1- placed son Charlie Farnsbarns is inbred 3x4 to Danzig, his second line coming through Chief’s Crown.

While we are on the subject of Cape Cross, he added another group winner to his collection when Russian Cross took Saturday’s G2 Prix Guillaume d’Ornano and he was a bit unlucky not to add another group success the following day, when Treat Gently as second after being hampered in the Prix de la Nonette. The Darley stallion’s fee jumped from Eur20,000 to Eur50,000 in 2005, so his current crop of juveniles is the subject of high expectations. It is encouraging that two of his sons - Sea The Stars and War Native - recently achieved “TDN Rising Star” status.

Another of Green Desert stallions, Kheleyf, is also likely to have his fee raised substantially after the success he has enjoyed with his first runners. He currently heads the British and Irish freshman sires’ table both by number of winners and prize money.

With Oasis Dream maintaining his position as one of the most successful second-crop sires, with five first-crop group winners, Green Desert has a powerful team of young stallion sons, which also includes Invincible Spirit. This Irish National Stud resident did so well with his early crops that his fee now stands at Eur75,000. Yet another son, the undervalued Desert Style, is again demonstrating his ability to come up with the occasional top performer, this time with the impressive seven-furlong specialist Paco Boy.

Perhaps these sons have taken some of the attention away from Green Desert, whose fee was as high as Eur85,000 in 2004 (when he was 21) and 2005. Whatever the reason, he appears to be another of those stallions whose results have declined in old age. His last Group 1 winners, Oasis Dream and Desert Lord, were born in 2000 and his last five crops of racing age have so far produced nothing more than a pair of Group 3 winners. But we can happily forgive him those recent failings in view of his growing impact as a sire of sires.



International Jockeys' Challenge... South Africa vs The World

south african horse racingInternational Jockeys’ Challenge

Freeracer reports that Frankie Dettori and Mick Kinane, two of the biggest names in horseracing, are among the six international jockeys who will clash with South Africa’s top riders in the International Jockeys’ Challenge at the Steinhoff International Summer Cup race meeting at Turffontein Racecourse in Johannesburg on Saturday 29 November.

The international team contains champions from several countries including the UK, France and Australia. The full team is Frankie Dettori (England), Mick Kinane (Ireland), Ryan Moore (England), Damien Oliver (Australia), Srinath Surender (India) and Christophe Soumillon (France).

Italian-born Frankie Dettori has become a legend in his own lifetime and is the most famous jockey in the world. He is the retained rider for Godolphin, the banner under which the rulers of Dubai race, and has won virtually every major race in the world including the Epsom Derby, the Dubai World Cup, the Breeders’ Cup Turf in the USA, the Japan Cup and the Arc de Triomphe.

Like Frankie Dettori, Irish-born Mick Kinane has long been regarded as one of the best jockeys on the planet and has won the Irish Jockeys’ Championship a record 13 times. He, too, has won major races in a string of countries including the Epsom Derby twice, the Arc de Triomphe, the Belmont Stakes and the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s most famous race,

Ryan Moore was champion apprentice in the UK in 2003 and went on to clinch the British Jockeys’ Championship in 2006, when he booted home 180 winners. Injury put paid to his chances of retaining the title last year, but he currently holds a commanding lead in the race for this year’s UK jockeys’ title.

Belgium-born Christophe Soumillon has been a dominant figure in French racing for years. He was champion apprentice there in 1999 and won the French Jockeys’ Championship in 2003 with 207 winners. His major successes include the Arc de Triomphe, the Breeders’ Cup Turf, the Dubai Duty Free and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in England.

Srinath Surender has won the jockeys’ title in India no fewer than five times and has won virtually all the major races in that country. He has ridden over 900 winners from 2800 rides, including some 40 successes in Macau.

Damien Oliver is a household name in Australia and has won 80 Group 1 races, including the Melbourne Cup  twice, four Caulfield Cups, two Cox Plates and a Golden Slipper to complete the Grand Slam of Australian Racing. He has won the Melbourne Jockeys’ Premiership on seven occasions and ridden with success in New Zealand, Mauritius, Hong Kong, Japan, Ireland and England.

The international riders will compete against South Africa’s best jockeys in a thrilling four-race challenge on Steinhoff Summer Cup day. It will be the first international jockeys’ contest in South Africa in some 20 years and JSE-listed Phumelela, which operates horseracing and/or tote betting in seven of South Africa’s nine provinces, is proud to have been able to secure such a formidable international team.

The riders to represent South Africa will be selected in the near future. Phumelela has asked the National Horseracing Authority, an autonomous national body that is responsible for ensuring that all races are run according to the rules of horseracing, to choose the team.

There will be a draw for mounts in each of the challenge races and the runners will be seeded beforehand in order to equalise the chances of the two teams as much as is possible.

The International Jockeys’ Challenge will be one of the highlights of a glorious afternoon of horseracing action on 29 November. The R2-million Steinhoff Summer Cup, one of the most famous races on the South African racing calendar, is the headline event and is certain to produce a memorable battle between many of the best thoroughbreds in the country.

Several other major races will also be run and there’s no doubt that the afternoon will live up to its billing of “Joburg’s Golden Event”.

“We are excited with the big names we have secured for the international team and are grateful to the Racing Association for their assistance and support,” said Phumelela’s Group CEO Rian du Plessis.

Larry Wainstein, chairman of the Racing Association that represents the interests of racehorse owners in Phumelela in making the International Jockeys’ Challenge a reality and believe that the day will quickly become a mega event on Joburg’s sporting calendar.”

Derrik Matthew, Marketing Executive of Steinhoff International Group Services, said: “It is a privilege to be associated with the Summer Cup - an event which is more than 100 years old. With the initiatives undertaken and the commitment shown by all concerned we are excited that this event will receive the prestigious recognition it deserves and be established as an annual event not to be missed!”

The International Jockeys’ Challenge will incorporate several co-sponsors. Lufthansa has already come on board as the official carrier and will be flying the international jockeys to South Africa “Steinhoff is one of Lufthansa’s leading clients in South Africa and by co-sponsoring this prestigious event we are emphasising our commitment to this partnership” explains Gabriel Leupold, Director Southern Eastern Africa. “With Lufthansa’s extensive international route network feeding into our daily flights from Frankfurt to Johannesburg, we are ideal partners that can add value to the International Jockeys’ Challenge by flying in the jockeys”

Phumelela’s General Manager Marketing and Communications, Robert Garner, said the jockeys’ challenge would capture the imagination of horseracing fans and the general public alike.

“It’s South Africa versus the world and brings international horseracing to our shores, something that has been lacking for years,” said Robert Garner. “Our jockeys have been champions across the globe from Michael Roberts in the UK to Bartie Leisher, Basil Marcus and Douglas Whyte in Hong Kong, and we believe the whole country will get behind our jockeys on the big day.” regulations make it extremely difficult to stage an international horse race in South Africa currently, so instead we have gone for an international jockeys challenge. It should be a fabulous afternoon and we are delighted to be staging the event in conjunction with regions, said: “We are delighted to have been able to assist



South African Racing Season... a Vintage One

south african horse racing

South African Racing
(Neil Gould/Corporate Sports)

The South African racing season that has just drawn to a close will be remembered as a vintage one, writes Nicola Hayward for Thoroughbred Internet.

Pocket Power won the Queen’s Plate G1 and J&B Met G1 double for the second successive year and then went on to dead heat with Dancer’s Daughter for first place in the G1 Vodacom Durban July. In so doing, he helped Jet Master to the title of Champion Sire for the second year.

Jet Master not only sired Pocket Power and his full sister - the G2-winning filly River Jetez (who was fourth in the Vodacom Durban July) - but also the top class sprinter JJ The Jet Plane, winner of his last five outings, three of which have been at Group One level. For this reason, his progeny finished with earnings of R14,437,903, nearly R5.5m ahead of Western Winter in second place.

Summerhill Stud was as mercurial in the manner in which it once again won the title of Champion Breeder. The team at Summerhill sent out 241 runners through the season for total stakes earnings of R15,835,423. Odessa Stud (D Cohen and sons) was runner up with stakes earned of R10,076,996. Imbongi (Russian Revival) was the top earner from Summerhill, who are also the breeders of the good filly Outcome, the ill-fated Emperor Napoleon and G3 winner Umngazi. Champion Freshman Sire honours went to the late Labeeb, who stood at Summerhill before his premature death two years ago.

In 2006/2007 the trainers’ title went down to the wire with a three-way tussle between Charles Laird, Geoff Woodruff and Mike de Kock. Geoff Woodruff prevailed and Charles Laird finished second. In mid-July, Charles Laird would have been forgiven for thinking that this year he had it in the bag, but Mike de Kock is ignored at one’s peril. Mike de Kock had a fine day on Champions’ Day at Clairwood on July 2: Zirconeum was runner-up in the G1 Thekwini Fillies Stakes and Rocks Off, an imported son of Orpen, won the G1 Premier’s Champion Stakes while Front House prevailed in the G2 Gold Circle Oaks. To cap it all, Winter Weather won the G2 Gold Circle Derby. In contrast, Charles Laird had a day he would rather forget: crack two-year-old colt Warm White Night was well beaten in the G1 Premier’s Champion Stakes and Our Giant faded in the G1 Champion’s Cup.

The trainers had to wait for the seventh race at the Vaal on the last day of the season before it became clear that Charles Laird would once again have to settle for the runner-up spot – by a margin of just R158,039 on total local earnings by Mike de Kock of R12,509,614. Third place went to young Cape-based trainer Justin Snaith with the other top Cape trainer Mike Bass in fourth. The performances of Justin Snaith and Mike Bass deserve mention since neither sent horses to any of the lucrative Highveld meetings – home base to both Mike de Kock and Charles Laird. Not only did Justin Snaith send out Dancer’s Daughter for four G1 wins in the season but he also conditioned dual G1 winner Russian Sage and Captain’s Lover winner of the G1 Cape Fillies Guineas. Mike Bass conditions Pocket Power and River Jetez, as well as the G1-winning filly Consensual and Bill Of Rights a G3 winner.

This is the fourth time that Mike de Kock has taken the trainers’ chamionship, but is perhaps the most impressive given his well-reported falling out with Team Valor, and the fact that he had such an outstanding season abroad, highlighted by Group wins for Archipenko in Dubai, Hong Kong and Great Britain. Unlike his competitors he did not have a real superstar in his local yard this year and it is testament to his canny ability with horses and the great team that he has collected around him that he was able to take the title. Some notable performers include Thundering Star, winner of the G1 Gold Cup at the start of the season, Archipenko, the G1-winning two-year-old Forest Path and G1 sprinting Brazilian-bred filly Rat Burana

Mike de Kock has done so much to put the South African racehorse on the international racing map. He had the courage to take Horse Chestnut to America and then to go to Dubai with his first small string when everyone at home said that he would fail. Because of his vision and the success of horses like Victory Moon, Ipi Tombe and Irridescence, the face of South African racing has changed and the international spotlight falls on the region far more often. Not only has the country exported some excellent horses but the horsemen that go with them are able to hold their own anywhere in the world – no one more so than the current champion trainer himself.



HOT off the Press

parade at the ekkaParade at the Ekka
(Patria Jannides)

Yes, even though he’s in Australia the boss is sending through articles for the blog. His judging experience was a very memorable and stimulating one and he reports that it was a valuable experience which he considers a privilege to have been part of. “The Royal Queensland Show is up there with the best in the world” he said.

He reported there were over 190 entries in the Thoroughbred classes alone and the “EkkA” is the biggest Thoroughbred show in the world. Among the talented people he shared the day with was fellow judge, Her Royal Highness Princess Teresa de Borbon of Spain (world expert on Arabian horses), who judged the non-Thoroughbred classes.

The Chief Steward was David Chester (CEO of Magic Millions) who was especially magnanimous in his praise of Summerhill as one of the world’s great breeding institutions, and for its ambassadorial role in international breeding and racing. Other luminaries were Terry Spargo, one of racing’s best known voices who called the World Cup in Dubai last year, and Bart Sinclair, Australia’s leading racing journalist and a celebrated international raconteur.

Ironically, the horse which won the Champion Thoroughbred Gelding, was a grey, Argentinian-bred son of Ringaro, by the name of Karacola. This horse once raced for Geoff Woodruff in South Africa, and made his way to Australia via a racing career in Hong Kong, where he raced for Tony Millard.



MERCURY SPRINT : What else does Rebel King have to do?

jj_the_jet_planeJJ The Jet Plane
(Gold Circle)

Sunday’s Group One Mercury Sprint was a revelation once again of the remarkable depth among South Africa’s sprinters.  Three seasons ago CATALOOCHEE ran some of the fastest times in the world, including an all-Africa record for 1000 metres.  Last year local fans were treated to some spectacular racing as MYTHICAL FLIGHT went one step further, only to be beaten in his final start by WAR ARTIST, in the same Mercury Sprint.  WAR ARTIST has since gone on to make a significant impression in Group One company  in the UK this season, and now we have a new star burning even brighter.

Perhaps the most appealing high-flyer imaginable, three year old JJ THE JET PLANE has been in take-off mode right through the season, taking his third consecutive Group One in track record time on Sunday in the self-same Mercury Sprint, after toting an almost impossible 60kg to victory in the Golden Horse Sprint G1, on his previous start.  By any standards anywhere, this is a racehorse; and it’ll take an enormously talented one to lower his colours, when he gets to his new home in Hong Kong under the tutelage of Mike de Kock.  Not that we should take a single thing away from the masterful manner in which he’s been handled by Lucky Houdalakis at home.  Here’s a man in only his second year as a trainer, and he’s managed “JJ” like a seasoned veteran.

And his victim on Sunday?  The luckless Summerhill-bred REBEL KING, whose fourth Group One second it was.  Let’s not forget, it took MYTHICAL FLIGHT, WAR ARTIST and now JJ THE JET PLANE to deny him the glory of Group One victory.  Mercifully, his vanquishers have either left, or are about to take flight, so perhaps his time is still to come, though it will take a man like Charles Laird to spare him long enough to do so.  Those with memories will recall Charlie’s expert management of the career of six-time Equus Awards finalist and three times Champion, NHLAVINI, who was still contesting (and winning) at Group One level, well into his ninth season.



Part 6. The Vodacom Durban July : Africa's Greatest Sporting Event

“All that you see in the magnificence of Hartford House and its environs is defined by the indefinable, and this is Cheryl Goss’ God-given talent for creating the unimaginable.”
(Summerhill Stud/Hartford House/Waterford Wine Estate)

Does anyone out there know the thrill and the magnitude of having a “July” winner? People from all over the world are swarming through Summerhill at the moment, and by Sunday evening we’ll have hosted visitors form Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Dubai and Australia in the East, and the UK, the USA and Germany in the West. And then we have our local guests from Lesotho, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and the whole of South Africa.

What a privilege to see these people, and what a tribute to the horses. That said, visitors don’t come to Summerhill just to see the horses; they can do that anywhere. They come to see their heroes, and in the quality of the “men” in the stallion barn right now, there’s plenty of opportunity to indulge their worship.

At Hartford this evening there’s a gathering of the game’s cognoscenti, here to acknowledge their reverence for this great race. And then there are those who’ve come to pay homage to Cheryl Goss, as she celebrates her 60th birthday. She’s in the best shape of her life, and that’s a signal she’s been well “kept”, or so the boss keeps reminding us!

All that you see in the magnificence of Hartford House and its environs is defined by the indefinable, and this is Cheryl’s God-given talent for creating the unimaginable. The entire Summerhill, Hartford and Vuma teams join us in wishing her “long life”.

With us for the weekend are Kevin and Heather Arnold and Gareth Robertson of the Waterford Wines team, who have acquired the rights to sponsor our pre-July dinner, July Day at the races and our annual Stallion Day. Our association with Waterford goes back many years, and our pride in the relationship revolves around the fact that, like us, they do things properly.

Waterford has for some time been known as one of the world’s great red wine producers, and Kevin has only recently released his “magnum opus”. The Jem. Yet for all the international recognition of their reds, since the 2004 vintage, they’ve released two of the very best Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs the country has known.

What a pleasure to have these guys with us to share their secrets and their expertise.



Part 3. The Vodacom Durban July : Africa's Greatest Sporting Event

Welcome to our Ranch
(Nicholas Goss)

Back at the Summerhill ranch, there is feverish activity. Hartford House is filling to the brim with a collection of people from all over the world, some deeply passionate about horses, others carrying a nagging curiosity that goes back to some connectivity in their early childhoods. Either way, all of them are whipped up in the atmosphere of Saturday’s race, and by raceday, Hartford will be filled with people from around the world.

South Africa’s newest “big buyer”, Dr Jim Hay and his entourage fly in on Friday, Peter Yip, famed for his connection with the Hong Kong Breeders Club gets here Saturday morning, Barry Clements and his wife Liz arrive from Perth on Thursday, and Rupert Plersch is on his way from Germany. His Majesty King Letsie III of Lesotho arrives on Friday mid-morning when he’ll be inspecting his horses on the farm, and the afternoon sees the arrival of Kevin and Heather Arnold, internationally famed for their excellent wines at Waterford Wine Estate.

The Irish are nothing if they’re not great “marketers” and at the command of the likes of her great pal, Coolmore’s John Magnier and the “Margaret Thatcher” of Irish breeding, Eimear Mulhern (yes, daughter of the late Charlie Haughey, ex Prime Minister of Ireland,) we have Ireland’s most recognized industry representative, Elaine Lawler, also arriving Saturday.

Now this girl’s not just Irish racing’s ambassador, but she’s also famous for another feature. And she’s not called “Legs” for nothing!

That’s not the lot though. We also have the Chairman of the Western Australian Breeders, John Andrew and CEO Veronica Jackson-Smith; the Chairman of the Singapore Turf Club Mr. Tan Guong Ching; the Chairman and Committee of the Korean Turf Authority and a Japanese TV crew delegated to film the Stallion Day as part of the promotion of November’s Asian Racing Conference, the biggest of its kind in the world.