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J J The Jet Plane



(Photo : Summerhill Stud)

Dubai’s Ruler, Sheikh Mohammed, once famously said: “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, knowing it must run faster than the fastest lion in order to survive. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up, knowing it must run faster than the slowest gazelle in order to survive.

“Either way, when the sun comes up in Africa, you’d better be running!”

So appropriate. And while that may not have universal application, it certainly sticks with the sport of horseracing, and especially this week. Of all the racing weeks in creation, nothing beats Royal Ascot, never mind what the Aussies will tell you about the Melbourne Cup.

From an African perspective, the big one this week (Saturday on DSTV Channel 232) is the Golden Jubilee Stakes (Gr.1) which brings together the fastest horses on turf in the world. And South Africa will be there, too, in the form of the rocket, J J The Jet Plane. How appropriate.

Which reminds us of our own connection with the inaugural running of this time-honoured challenge under its new guise (formerly the Cork and Orrery, how odd! Only the English could think of a name like that!).

In 2002, the owners of the best sprinters on the planet did this race proud. After all, it marked the Queens Golden Jubilee. The World Champion Juvenile of the previous season, Johannesburg, was there. So were the celebrated stallions (these days) and the crack sprinters of those, Invincible Spirit and Kyllachy. And so was Malhub, son of the most desirable stallion on both sides of the Atlantic. Little known at that point and donning his owner’s “second set”, it wouldn’t be long before his was a household name.

Our Irish friends on course that day, swear Malhub saw Her Majesty in the Royal Box on his way to the start, and proclaimed “I’m comin home to meet you, Ma’m” In a matter of 72 seconds and a bit of change, that’s precisely what Malhub did.

One hot property. The prodigy that sauntered past Johannesburg the only time they met. A spine-tingling moment of utter superiority.

The height of summer. The height of class. The height of places.

Roll on Saturday.

Mike de Kock armed for Golden Jubilee Dogfight

j j the jet plane ascotJ J The Jet Plane, Ascot
(Photo : Daily Mail)

Mike de Kock and J J The Jet Plane have captivated the interest of the UK racing media in the buildup to Saturday’s Golden Jubilee Stakes where they will challenge for South African glory in the final Group 1 trophy of Royal Ascot 2009.

Following is an extract from yesterday’s edition of the UK’s Mirror, written by David Yates :

Royal Ascot
Saturday 20 June 2009, Race 3
The Golden Jubilee Stakes

“I feel the need… the need for speed…”

Australia plundered Saturday’s Golden Jubilee Stakes in 2003 with King’s Stand Stakes hero Choisir.

Two years later, the six furlong sprint - run at York while Ascot was being rebuilt - went to Hong Kong raider Cape Of Good Hope.

Now J J The Jet Plane is the bookies’ favourite to make racing history by taking the prize to South Africa.

But victory for the five-year-old would mark just the latest overseas plunder for Mike De Kock, the trainer who has made his name dispatching runners from his Johannesburg base to capture some of the biggest races on the planet.

A decade ago Mike de Kock came to Ascot with a view to sending his stable star Horse Chestnut for a clash with Europe’s top middle-distance cream in the King George.

The plan to run didn’t come off, but a sortie to America saw Horse Chestnut demolish his rivals in Gulfstream Park’s prestigious Broward Handicap - and Mike de Kock was bitten by the travel bug.

“In any sport, you want to pitch yourself against your peers abroad,” explains the 45 year-old Mike de Kock, who as a boy became fascinated by the goings-on at Johannesburg’s Newmarket racecourse, a couple of furlongs from his family home.

After a couple of years in the Equestrian Unit of the SA Defence Force, Mike de Kock learned his trade in the training ranks of his native city before taking out a licence in his own name in 1989.

“The ambition to run Horse Chestnut in the King George didn’t take place, but it was his win in America that whet my appetite for international competition.

“I came across to Ascot and I thought, ‘This is what I want.’ But you’ve got to have the horses to be competitive.

“Sitting in South Africa, you’re looking abroad and everything in America and England looks so big, and you’re almost nervous to have a crack at it.” The exploits of the ex-Zimbabwean mare Ipi Tombe, which included a track-record win in Dubai’s Group 1 Dubai Duty Free on World Cup night in 2003, established Mike de Kock as a force on the international scene.

“I felt Ipi Tombe was good enough to race abroad,” he recalls. “I felt, ‘If there’s a better horse, then I want to see it.” “We didn’t really know how competitive we would be until we took our horses abroad.”

“We thought she would be competitive, but I didn’t imagine she would win in Dubai like she did.”

Ipi Tombe was crowned Dubai Horse of the Year for 2003, while Mike de Kock topped the trainers’ list at its spring meeting five years running from 2004.

Last year he even improved Aidan O’Brien cast-offs Archipenko and Eagle Mountain to score at the highest level in Hong Kong last year.

But success at Royal Ascot represents uncharted territory for Mike de Kock, who recruited dual Group 1 winner J J The Jet Plane to race at the Dubai Carnival this spring.

A Group 3 winner at Nad Al Sheba in February, the gelded son of champion South African speedster Jet Master arrived at his summer base in Newmarket last month, before warming up for Ascot in a Listed sprint at Windsor.

J J The Jet Plane lived up to his odds of 4-7 by four lengths from Intrepid Jack, and Mike de Kock admits: “I would have been very disappointed if he’d got beat or struggled to win.”

“People have said it wasn’t a very accomplished field, but I’ve gone back on the form and the other horses have some pretty good form.”

“The second is rated 107 and we’ve given him 7lbs and a four-length beating, so J J’s got to be running very close to his mark and I thought it was a good win.”

“He’s a very straightforward horse. He’s got exceptional speed and he’s also got that kick, that stamina with his speed, that I think makes him a horse that is going to be competitive on the world stage.”

The nomadic life travelling from one major racing carnival to another suits Mike de Kock, who has no plans for permanent settlement in Britain, adding: “I’m very happy to follow the sun - it would be difficult for me to make a base because in the winter I don’t want to be here!” Weather-wise a British summer comes with no guarantees, but Mike de Kock is already an enthusiastic convert to the domestic racing programme.

“You get some unbelievable meetings here and some of the best horses in the world to race.”

The Derby is followed by Royal Ascot, which gets followed up by the July meetings, which gets followed up by York - Jesus, it doesn’t stop!”

“If I’ve got a top horse then I don’t believe there’s a place in the world that gives you the same value as England does - as a stallion or broodmare prospect.”

“You really, really are spoilt for really good racing at the top end.”

J J THE JET PLANE : All Summerhill and Hartford

Northern Guest
(Photo: Summerhill Stud)

You read our piece on J J The Jet Plane’s fine performance in the Leisure Stakes last week. A few notes on his origins.

Firstly, he’s another example of close and successful in-breeding to the grand old man of the game, Northern Dancer. But closer to home, J.J. is out of Majestic Guest, who was bred and raised at Summerhill, the daughter of the fellow who’s paid for most of what you see around us today, Northern Guest. Of course Northern Guest, is the most decorated broodmare sire in South African history, so it’s no surprise that one of his daughters pop up with a horse of J.J’s ilk.

That said, Majestic Guest was a product of a granddaughter of the one-time incumbent of our barn, Home Guard, from a family which is all Hartford, going back to the days of the Ellis family. Majestic Guest’s granddam, Fantastic, was a winner of the Grade One Breeders Champion Fillies Stakes, in turn a daughter of one the best racers to grace the Hartford paddocks, Panjandrum.

As for Jet Master himself, J.J’s sire, his great granddam resided at Summerhill as the property of the late Dickie Dunn, and her daughter, Jolly Laughter, was bred and raised at Summerhill. To complete the circle, Jet Master’s own mother Jet Lightening, was sold for the paltry sum of R10,000 at the annual KZN Broodmare Sale, which in those days was hosted in Malhub’s paddock alongside the Summerhill office. Talk about rags to riches.

There’s a lot of sentiment riding on J J The Jet Plane’s entry at Royal Ascot in a fortnight, particularly in this quarter, and we’re tipping him to make it a double notwithstanding the Aussie assault from Takeover Target. Both the King’s Stand Stakes (Gr.1), and the race which made Malhub famous, the Golden Jubilee Sprint (Gr.1), beckon.


JJ The Jet Plane
(Photo : Gold Circle)


The much anticipated British debut of leading South African sprint star, J J The Jet Plane, took place yesterday in the Listed Leisure Stakes at Windsor.


Making all the racing near the rail early on, J J The Jet Plane had his rivals in trouble by the furlong marker. The Mike de Kock-trained four-year-old drew away late for an impressive four-length victory under jockey Ryan Moore.


The son of Jet Master was racing for the first time since his win in the Gr.3 Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai at the end of February, and Mike de Kock was pleased to be able to get a run into his charge before Royal Ascot.


“I’m relieved to win. It was lucky there was a race at Windsor for him. I thought it was a good win in a fairly competitive field. I’m very happy with him; he’s not had a big blow but this will certainly do him the world of good,” said Mike de Kock following the race.


J J The Jet Plane has now laid down his credentials for sprint success in the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot and, if all goes well, he may have a crack at the Gr.1 Darley July Cup at Newmarket.