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Mike de Kock


charles laird
charles laird

Please click above to enlarge

(Photo : Summerhill Stud)


One of Summerhill’s most enduring and rewarding associations going back more than two decades, is with what is now known as the Charles Laird Racing Stable. With traditions stretching back almost eighty years in our case, and more than a century in theirs, our two families have a common respect and admiration for the sport of racing, and no family in a long and distinguished history of trainers in this country has bought more honour to their profession than the Lairds.

The names of Syd Garrett and Syd Laird, Charles and his cousins Alec and Dennis Drier have all created their own spaces in thoroughbred lore, and the latest saga in this great tradition is Charles’ first Championship as the nations leading trainer, which will be consummated with the close of racing’s business this calendar year at midnight on the 31st July. Already in an unassailable position, this is a championship we can already celebrate, and given the number of great horses that have passed to greatness between our respective organisations to greatness under Charles’ tutelage, Summerhill will not only be celebrating its own fifth consecutive Breeders Championship, but we’ll be remembering with considerable pleasure what Charles has achieved this year.

As dedicated and talented a horseman as this country has produced, he’s a stickler for planning and organisation and within the ranks of his business, there’s no such thing as a “minor” detail. Having to manage a string of its current proportions, is no mean feat, and Charles has surrounded himself with some serious professionals, all of whom who’ve contributed in no small way to the outcome we write of.

As we do so, we remember the names of Nhlavini, Rebel King, Bianconi, Pick Six, and Amphitheatre, among many, and a history of support at the sales and a parallel love of the game, and all we can say is, you’ve put the ghosts of last season well and truly behind you, old pal. We salute you and a remarkable team. We know what it takes ourselves, so from one champion team to another, well done.

P.S. The ghosts of last season emanated from a healthy lead going into the last month of the racing year, followed by a ding-dong battle with as formidable an opponent as the world could’ve produced, that of the Mike de Kock yard. The lead for the championship changed hands every successive weekend of the final month, punch for punch, race by race, at the final meeting of the year, to the very last event of the day.

The stuff of racing journalists and television, but not for the men who finished 2nd or 3rd. Goes to show though – you can’t get a top man down.


worlds greatest rating agency
worlds greatest rating agency

Timeform 121

Timeform’s Black Book issued this past week, carries an illuminating statement on one of South Africa’s(and certainly Summerhill’s) favourite sons.

IMBONGI (SAF) close-coupled horse: very smart performer: won Grade 2s at Turffontein and Greyville (2) in 2008: excellent efforts in Grade 1s at Clairwood after, notably when ¾ length second to Dancer’s Daughter in Gold Challenge: as good as ever this year, winning John Bovington Memorial Criterion Stakes at Newmarket in June by 1 ¾lengths from Huntdown, travelling strongly to lead 2f out: creditable third to Aqlaam in Summer Mile at Ascot next time, staying on and nearest finish: stays 9f, at least as effective at 7f: acts on good to firm ground. M F de Kock, South Africa”.”

This is what Timeform had to say in arriving at his 121 rating, which incidentally places him in the same racing class as MULLINS BAY, SOLSKJAER, ADMIRE MAIN and STRONGHOLD, and a few pounds adrift of AP ARROW.His boss needs to be left undisturbed while attempting to attend both the British Open and the first of the England / Australia cricket tests, so we’ll only catch up with Mike de Kock when these things are behind him on IMBONGI’s plans for the Arlington Million.

john bovington memorial criterion stakes video
john bovington memorial criterion stakes video
ascot summer mile audio
ascot summer mile audio

Click above to experience Imbongi’s last two runs in the

John Bovington Memorial Criterion Stakes and Ascot Summer Mile Stakes


The Rags to Riches story of IMBONGI

ready to run

Emperors Palace Ready to Run graduate, unwanted in the sales ring, turned adversity to advantage when he won the first of two Guineas in May last year. His rags to riches story saw him beat the pants off multiple Group One winner, Russian Sage, in the KZN version of the Guineas. He then took matters to another level, when he beat Horse of the Year, Pocket Power, and three other Group One winners with consummate ease, in the Drill Hall Stakes.


IMBONGI : Arlington Million charge for The Warrior

mike de kock and imbongi
mike de kock and imbongi

Mike de Kock and the warrior Imbongi

(Photo : John Lewis/DRC)

“Mike de Kock considering Arlington Million for Imbongi”

Following Imbongi’s fighting third in Saturday’s Summer Mile Stakes at Ascot, Mike de Kock is now considering an Arlington Million charge for the African Warrior.

Imbongi had made a successful British debut in the John Bovington Memorial Criterion Stakes (Gr3) at Newmarket over seven furlongs just two weeks ago, and followed that performance with Saturday’s Ascot Group Two third, being beaten only a length by Aqlaam who is rated 117 and is rumored to be heading for the Breeders’ Cup.

“That was a world-class run,” said trainer Mike de Kock. “We’re considering the Arlington Million next for Imbongi.”


imbongi summer mile challenger
imbongi summer mile challenger


(Photo : Summerhill/HKJC)


The Summer Mile Stakes has always been a good race, as it provides an opportunity for the best milers in Europe to maintain their sharpness while they’re waiting for the next big Group One challenge later in the season. We doubt though, that the race has ever attracted the quality of contenders that line-up on Saturday at 2:50 pm (that’s English time, of course, which means 3:50pm here).

The first three past the post in Royal Ascot’s Queen Anne Stakes (Gr.1), Paco Boy, Cesare and Aqlaam, line up again here, and so Imbongi will really have his work cut out if he’s to feature in the money. According to Racing Post, he’s in with something of a squeak, as the fourth highest rated horse in the field. Paco Boy and Cesare each have a Racing Post rating of 135, Aqlaam 134, and Imbongi 133, which means there’s not much in it, if ratings matter. Of course, that’s not to say there aren’t others in the field, but it certainly seems, on current form, these are the chief protagonists.

What the race will certainly do, is tell us where Imbongi sits in the pantheon of the worlds best milers, because this just about represents the best form in the world this year. From all accounts, he’s well and ready to run, so for South Africa’s sake, let’s keep everything crossed.

So who will win the Vodacom Durban July

vodacom durban july logo
vodacom durban july logo

“David Thiselton lays down his Vodacom Durban July selections”

With July Fever building to what promises to be a massive crescendo come Vodacom Durban July Raceday tomorrow; trainers, jockey and owners alike will be feeling the “butterflies”.

Top turf writer David Thiselton reports that Mike Bass, the experienced three-time July winning trainer of the great Pocket Power, who is ruling favourite, would probably have slept well, knowing he has done all he can, while the Fayd’Herbe brothers, jockey Bernard and assistant trainer Robert, will be united in spirit as they approach the final hurdle of the mighty horse’s winter campaign.

The Bass yard has two strings to its bow this July as Pocket Power’s full-sister, River Jetez, is said by the trainer to be twice the horse she was last year.

Pocket Power has had a better preparation than ever for this year’s big race and seems to be as good as ever despite his age. He and his sister could well fight out the finish, although River Jetez’s draw of 15 is a concern for supporters.

Big City Life has been described by his trainer Glen Kotzen as a “freak”, who gets better and better all the time.

Big City Life is a three-year-old and is 1,5kg under sufferance, but the form of his only meeting with Pocket Power suggests he has a great chance.

Kapil can beat Pocket Power too if the form of their last meeting is taken literally, although there is a question mark over whether he will stay the 2 200m. It should also be borne in mind that Pocket Power usually does just enough to win no matter the weight he’s carrying.

Our Giant also has a stamina doubt, but with that doubt in mind could not have asked for a better draw than two.

Tropical Empire is trained by Duncan Howells, whose knowledge of big race preparations was influenced by the great trainer, David Payne.

Duncan Howells has won two Grade 1 races with similarly priced horses and Tropical Empire’s draw of one is ideal for his style of running, which is to come with a flying finish.

Thandolwami is a similar type of horse to Tropical Empire and has also drawn well, so he should be running on strongly at the finish.

However, with both Tropical Empire and Thandolwami, it should be borne in mind that only the top six numbered horses are in the handicap i.e. fairly weighted according to their merit rating. The rest are under sufferance.

Smart Banker showed at the July gallops that he will be suited to Greyville. He has improved tremendously this season and is a definite contender, although Charles Laird’s stable jockey, Anton Marcus, switched to Our Giant after Smart Banker was allocated a wide draw.

Ruling champion trainer Mike De Kock has three youngsters in the race.

Zirconeum and Forest Path have stamina doubts and their very wide draws won’t help. Bouquet-Garni will need a strong pace as he is a big, galloping type and might not have the turn of foot required off a slower pace.

Outcome has won ten times at Greyville. Any rainfall will be bad news for her. She looks capable of staying the distance and her form makes her one of the best outsiders.

Likeithot has popped up at big prices in big races before and his July gallop last week suggested he should peak at the right time for this race.

Buy And Sell is loaded with ability but is not too reliable and his form appears to be declining slightly.

Catmandu is capable of producing a devastating finish so could be an outside contender if close enough at the top of the straight.

London Guest enjoys this track and does just enough when he wins, so there is some hope for him in his first attempt in this company.

Aluminium has been supported in the betting but as a resolute galloper does not look suited to Greyville.

The rest can’t be fancied on form.

The selection is Pocket Power to beat home Big City Life and River Jetez, with Kapil and Our Giant next best.

Mike de Kock predicts Top 6 Vodacom July Battle

mike de kock and zirconeum
mike de kock and zirconeum

Mike de Kock

(Photo : Tab Online/Phumelela/Vodacom Durban July)

“Zirconeum, Bouquet-Garni and Forest Path - The MDK Attack”

The 2009 renewal of the Vodacom Durban July “will be fought out by the top six horses in the betting and the rest will live hoping and probably die hoping” so believes trainer Mike de Kock who has three three-year-olds in the race, and none of them are in the top six in the betting.

David Thiselton writes that Mike de Kock reports all three of his runners to be very well but lamented his bad luck with the draws.

Zirconeum, a Jallad filly, is drawn 19 and will be ridden by Anthony Delpech.

Bouquet-Garni, a Strike Smartly gelding out of a Fort Wood mare, is drawn 14 and will be ridden by MJ Byleveld.

Forest Path, a Fort Wood gelding, is drawn 20 and will be ridden by Warren Kennedy.

Interestingly, all three of Mike de Kock’s charges are Grade 1 winners.

There are only six other Grade 1 winners in the field of 20, Pocket Power, Our Giant, Buy And Sell, Smart Banker, Big City Life and Outcome.

His charges’ Grade 1 status would normally be enough for them to be in with a good chance but all three, even without their draws, have question marks over their heads and are consequently 40-1, 40-1 and 50-1 in the betting respectively.

Mike de Kock rated Zirconeum as probably his best chance.

The question marks about her are that she is firstly 1kg under sufferance on merit rated terms and secondly has a stamina doubt over her head.

She quickened very well in the Champions Challenge but was run out of the placings late on to finish fifth, two lengths behind Smart Banker. The run suggested she hadn’t stayed the tough Turffontein 2000m.

She meets Smart Banker on 4kg worse terms in the July, although the weight for age scale has risen 2kg for three-year-olds since then, effectively making her only 2kg worse off.

She recently won the Grade 1 Woolavington at Greyville easily over just 200m shorter than the July, but that was against her own age and sex.

Kevin Shea was asked immediately after the race whether she would stay the July trip and replied, “You can never tell but being trained by Mike de Kock there is a good chance she will.”

The last filly to win the July was the world class Mike de Kock-trained three-year-old, Ipi Tombe. She was a class above Zirconeum and didn’t have as difficult a draw to contend with. She did face a probable stronger overall field though.

Bouquet-Garni won this season’s Grade 1 SA Derby over 2400m.

Mike de Kock felt there would have to be a fast pace for him to feature. He is a big galloping type and might not have the immediate turn of foot that is an advantage at Greyville.

Forest Path won a Grade 1 over 1400m as a juvenile at Greyville and won the Grade 1 SA Classic over 1800m at Turffontein this year.

However, the Johannesburg three-year-old form is much maligned this season and this horse is also a highly strung type who often wastes energy with his pre-race antics.

Mike de Kock felt that the top three-year-old in the country, the Glen Kotzen-trained Big City Life, had a chance on Saturday.

“He proved himself by finishing just two lengths behind Pocket Power at weight for age terms and with the weight turnaround since he must have a chance.”

He said that all four of his runners in the Grade 1 Golden Horseshoe for two-year-olds over 1400m, Solid Choice, Musir, Mr. Crazy Boy and Storm Vanadiso were very talented.

If he had to side with one it would be Musir.

“He ran off the course last time and might otherwise have beaten Solid Choice.”

However, he warned that he was not discounting Solid Choice.

“If he can overcome his wide draw and get a good position he will be a big runner too.”

He felt that 1400m might still be a touch sharp for Mr. Crazy Boy.

Mike de Kock lamented the wide draw for Gilded Minaret in the Grade 1 Garden Province but said she was very well.

Equal Image always runs well on July day,” he added before saying that the day’s racing was very competitive and the yard was hoping for good runs with all their charges.




John Bovington Memorial Criterion Stakes Gr3

(Photo : Daily Mail)

“IMBONGI takes England’s biggest race of the weekend”

All week, Mike de Kock has been tipping Imbongi as the horse who thrived most since his string arrived in the UK. When Imbongi had done and dusted the Criterion Stakes (Gr.3) in facile fashion his pilot, Kevin Shea dismounted with the announcement that this was just the beginning. He felt the horse could step up from here, and while he was non-committal about where he would go in the next month or so, knowing Mike de Kock, he’s likely to make the progression to Group 2 level, and then cast his eyes towards something like the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Gr.1) at Ascot in September.

Like so many others in Mike de Kock’s yard, Imbongi really battled in Dubai, and was nowhere near his best, but Saturday he put all the ghosts away, and his form at last, approached the spectacles South African racegoers became accustomed to in his dual Guineas sagas and his demolition of four Grade One winners, including Horse of The Year, Pocket Power, in last year’s Drill Hall Stakes (Gr.2).

Don’t forget though, this was a horse that was turned out of the ring unsold at the Emperor’s Palace Ready To Run, and it took a man of Ronnie Napier’s decades in racing to recognise his potential on a frosty Saturday morning at the Summerhill gallops. So much for the unwanted child!

P.S. There was a double celebration in this one. Imbongi’s was the first winner from Sheikh Mohammed’s newly acquired Abingden Place yard, Mike’s English headquarters. If it weren’t for the Sheikh’s enterprise and his love of the game, we’d not’ve been in England.

john bovington memorial criterion stakes video link
john bovington memorial criterion stakes video link

Watch the John Bovington Memorial Criterion Stakes (Gr3)

Imbongi to make European debut

“traditional poet of the Zulu or Xhosa people who composes poetry
in praise of a leader”
(Photo : HKJC/inkokhelo/Nicholas Goss/AfricanSkies)

News filtering in from the UK is that Imbongi is set to make his European debut at Newmarket’s July Course this Saturday afternoon, June 27. (16h25 our time on DSTV Channel232)

Following a string of fine efforts in Hong Kong and Dubai earlier in the year, Mike de Kock’s charge is one of 18 challengers entered for the £65,000 Group Three John Bovington Memorial Criterion Stakes to be run over seven-furlongs.

The South African fighter finished a staying-on sixth last time out in the Group One Champions Mile at Sha Tin on April 26. Imbongi had previously been fourth in two Group Two races at Nad Al Sheba and was narrowly denied on his seasonal debut at the same course in a valuable seven-furlong handicap, when he just failed to collar Hatta Fort.

In South Africa last year, the Summerhill-bred Imbongi proved himself to be one of the leading milers of his generation, starting with electrifying victories in the Grade Two Gauteng Guineas at Turffontein in March and the Grade Two KZN Guineas at Greyville in April before returning to Greyville in May to destroy five previous Grade One winners in the Grade Two Drill Hall Stakes, including South African “Horse of the Year, Pocket Power.

Mike de Kock revealed to Newmarket Racecourse correspondents : “Imbongi is an intended runner in the John Bovington Memorial Criterion Stakes as things stand. He worked on the Rowley Mile with Diana’s Choice two weeks ago and he took it well. I think that seven furlongs to a mile is his best trip and the forecast ground should be an advantage for him.”

“We had some poor ventilation in Dubai and some of the horses bled out there but he still showed a decent level of form, including when he finished in front of Vodka in a Group Two in March.”

“It wasn’t a bad performance in Hong Kong either, when he ran from quite far back. Alexandros was a neck behind him on that occasion and he went on to be second in the Lockinge Stakes, so we have some collateral form to work with.”

“Some of the top milers around ran in that race and he was too far out of his ground, but he still ran on well in the closing stages. We will hopefully start him off at Newmarket and then take his season from there.”

Imbongi looks set to face some tough opposition including Racer Forever, who got the better of King Of Dixie in a thrilling finish to last year’s race. Subsequent Group One winner Court Masterpiece was also narrowly denied in 2005 and the nine-year-old, now in the care of John Quinn after a spell at stud, could return to Newmarket following a fine third in a York conditions race on his first start for more than two years.

Ancien Regime may make his Godolphin debut following a progressive three-year-old campaign for Michael Jarvis that included victory in the Sprint on the Rowley Mile and a close sixth in the Group One Sprint Cup at Doncaster in September, while Huntdown, third in last year’s Group One Shadwell Middle Park Stakes, could also make his first appearance for Saeed bin Suroor, having previously been trained by John Gosden.

Other notable entries include Winker Watson, who enjoyed Group Two success on the July Course in the TNT July Stakes in 2007, last season’s Group One Stan James sponsored 1000 Guineas fifth Dream Eater, as well as Laa Rayb and Balthazaar’s Gift, who were third and fourth respectively in the Group Two Victor Chandler Challenge Stakes on the Rowley Mile in October.

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.”


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.

SINGAPORE'S PREMIER RACEDAY : The South African Challenge

 Mythical Flight
Kranji, Singapore, 15 May 2009
(Photo : Singapore Turf Club)

Defending Singapore Airlines International Cup Champion, Jay Peg, will jump from stall five in Sunday’s feature event at Kranji, much to the delight of trainer Herman Brown.

“It’s a good draw and gives us plenty of options to ride close to the pace, as he normally does. A lot will also depend on how quick the horses on the inside go,” said Herman Brown.


In 2008, Jay Peg sat quietly in second spot before sweeping into the lead for a dominant victory in the 2000m showcase race. The European Bloodstock News reports that the handsome bay has failed to win since and has run below par in three starts since undergoing knee surgery, most recently finishing down the course behind Gladiatorus and Presvis in the Dubai Duty Free.


Mike de Kock’s charge, Bankable, will jump from stall three and is considered a possible danger to Audemars Piguet QE II Cup winner and race favourite, Presvis.

“That’s great,” said Mike de Kock’s assistant trainer Trevor Brown following the draw. “He (Bankable) is versatile with a good turn of foot and he’s had a good preparation.”


Sean Tarry, was left shaking his head in utter disbelief when his speed merchant, Mythical Flight, came away with barrier 11 for the 1200m KrisFlyer Sprint, where defending champion Takeover Target, well drawn on the inside, is the likely favourite.


“It’s a shocker. I’ve said all along we’ll be in trouble if he draws double digits,” said Sean Tarry, who was hoping to draw as close to the rail as possible but added, “We’re here to race. We wanted an inside draw, which can be vital here, but he has very good gate speed, he’s looking well and moving well.”


Former South African trainer Patrick Shaw, now based in Singapore, was also left deflated after drawing stall nine for local hero, the undefeated three-year-old, Rocket Man, owned by old friend of Summerhill, Fred Crabbia.


“Yes, I’m disappointed with the draw but we have to move on now. It’s not the end of the world but it makes his (Rocket Man) job a bit harder,” said Patrick Shaw.


The Australian-bred Rocket Man is the highest rated galloper in Singapore and his wins include both the Kranji and Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprints this season. Rocket Man is a half-brother to the Charles Laird-trained Gr1 winner Our Giant.


Summerhill Stud wishes all the South African connections “Voorspoed” and the greatest success on Singapore’s premier raceday.

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.

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.

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graham beck brut“We toasted the town, the team, and our buyers with a couple bottles of Graham Beck Brut…”


Uncle Tommy (Kahal out of Cousin Linda, half brother to Rebel King) did us proud yesterday, topping the first and second sessions with a heart-stopping, whopping R2.4million bid by Mike Bass for Graham Beck. Underbidders Mike de Kock and Markus Jooste carried him there, and our partners Mike and Marty Meredith, Mick and the team were ecstatic. In a fairly solid session we also sold, among others, Matara Garden (Solskjaer out of Garden Verse, half sister to Imbongi and Spring Garland) for R1.5million to Barry Irwin’s Team Valor.

We toasted the town, the team, and our buyers with a couple bottles of Graham Beck Brut – a fitting finish to yet another of those grand days at the office!

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Kiaran McLaughlin scoops Asiatic Boy and Honour Devil

kiaran mclaughlan (michael nefdt)

Kiaran McLaughlan
(Photos : DRC/Nafips)


Asiatic Boy and Honour Devil are likely heading for the tracks of the US where they will join the stable of Kiaran McLaughlin.


Reigning champion trainer of South Africa, Mike de Kock, saddled both of Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum’s runners to victories in the UAE Derby, with the former taking the event in 2007 and the latter winning a year ago.

Asiatic Boy is coming off a disappointing result in the Dubai World Cup (Gr1), where he finished back in 12th, from the field of 14.

“We will assess options for Asiatic Boy when we see how he has come out of Saturday, as he had a hard race,” Mike de Kock told The Racing Post from Dubai, adding that Asiatic Boy returned from the race coughing. “However, it is quite likely he (Asiatic Boy) and Honour Devil will go to Kiaran McLaughlin for the New York summer season. Asiatic Boy will probably then retire to Argentina and Honour Devil come back, hopefully for a World Cup bid. Saturday was disappointing. Asiatic Boy had won well on Super Thursday, but a slow start and traffic problems in the World Cup soon had him in trouble. He is obviously far better than that and came back coughing and just was not able to show how good he is, which is a shame. But that’s racing, and he will have another big day, I am sure, in America.”