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Stallion Day Approaches

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Cataloochee looks on as the preparations begin
(John Lewis/Grant Norval)

Folk on the farm are used to all kinds of unusual things happening and life in our particular part of the Midlands is far from dull. Although the Vodacom July creates a lot of excitement in the racing world, the annual Summerhill Stallion Day which takes place the day after, creates its own special atmosphere.

Tomorrow the marquee will be erected and some of our equine friends will get a bit of a shock when they see some interesting rearrangements to their living quarters. The to-ing and fro-ing between the stallion barn, the hotel and the stud office has to be seen to be believed. Everything is being made ready for the arrival of some of the most important people in our industry. A unique aspect of this year’s Stallion Day is that we will be joined by several of our stallion owners, who have jetted in from around the world.

His Majesty King Letsie from Lesotho and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa (who is visiting the country at the moment) are expected to join us for the day, together with international guests from as far afield as Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Australia, America and many parts of Africa and Europe.

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Stallions 2008, the Three Musketeers and the Danehill Mystery

Dr Gene Tsoi and William ChoiDr Gene Tsoi and William Choi from Hong Kong with their $800 000 Karaka Yearling Sale purchase; a bay colt from Cambridge Stud, Danehill x Nine Carats
( Phil Walter /Getty)


Leading Australian bloodstock correspondent, Andrew Reichard, had the following article published in Friday’s edition of Stallions Daily Bulletin.  

“What a title, I hope it has piqued your interest. How on earth, I hear you thinking, can that mouthful all be turned into one story. Well, here goes, I’ll give it a try.

The Australian version of Stallions 2008 is now at the printer, almost finished. Of the 306 stallions entered, an incredible 135 are descendents of DANZIG (Northern Dancer-Pas de Nom by Admiral’s Voyage), with 71 sons of Danehill (Danzig-Razyana by His Majesty) and another 33 grandsons or great grandsons of Danehill. So with 104 Danehill line sires, the representation of that marvellous sire is over one third of all the entries in this year’s book.

I don’t believe that there has ever been such a preponderance of stallions descended from one sire in any of the world’s major racing jurisdictions. Danehill was truly a wonder horse, ideally suited to Australian conditions, siring Golden Slipper winners, champion sprinters, wfa winners, classic winners, stars of both sexes, you name it, he did it. OK, no Melbourne Cup winner but that’s hardly surprising for although he has sired some very tough stayers in the Northern Hemisphere, Danehill’s ideal milieu was the speed saturated environment of Australia as his record nine sires titles attests.

His sons have proved to be excellent sires themselves, the early success at stud of Golden Slipper winners Danzero and Flying Spur providing a foretaste of what was to come with Redoute’s Choice and Flying Spur being champion sires in successive years in the last two completed seasons. Little wonder that studmasters around the nation are clamouring for sons and grandsons of Danehill, there is no more obvious path to the summit in the current circumstances and in the world of speed of which we Australians are the masters.

A world of speed that, on the racetrack, is presently dominated by the three musketeers of sprinting, the Athos, Porthos and Aramis of equine brilliance - better known as Takeover Target , Apache Cat and Weekend Hussler . These three quintessentially Australian sprinters should in all probability have a Danehill connection of some sort. But here comes the complete surprise, the three musketeers don’t have a skerrick of Danehill blood anywhere. Bit of a mystery really, at a time when the commercial bloodlines of this country are so dominated by the sons of one sire (and don’t forget Danehill is currently the champion broodmare sire as well), the three really outstanding sprinters of the day are entirely free of his blood.

Athos, Porthos and Aramis do have quite a few other things in common though, that’s why I’ve Musketeerised them (if Musketeerised wasn’t a word before then it is now). All three are great crowd favourites, all three are trained by relative battlers, all three were purchased inexpensively at public auctions (Weekend Hussler at AUS $80K certainly not expensive by select sale commercial standards), all three are by Mr Prospector line sires and all three have only one strain of Northern Dancer, amazingly in exactly the same position in the pedigree as the great grandsire of their dams. I would love to be able to also tell you that they were all foaled under a full moon, but I’d only be guessing.

Anyway I’ve done it, solved the riddle of the title of this story, by demonstrating that Australia’s three best sprinters, who are arguably the three best horses overall, the three musketeers, are all by Mr Prospector line stallions, mysteriously without any blood of Danehill anywhere between them, at a time when Danehill exerts such a massive dominance over the commercial thoroughbred population that over one third of the stallions in the industry’s leading stallion register are his sons, grandsons or great grandsons.”

Footnote : Surprising then that South Africa has such a dearth of quality Danehill blood, but hardly surprising that his three best sons are at Summerhill

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Summerhill Associates top New Zealand sale

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Peter Yip and Sam Williams (nztm)


In a Broodmare sale conducted by New Zealand Bloodstock at their Karaka complex this week, in which turnover was up a staggering 81%, the dominant buyer was the Summerhill-associate Hong Kong Breeders ClubPeter Yip’s organisation was the buyer of the second top priced mare (by Sadlers Wells) at NZ$210,000, (R1.4  million) among five in total in which the Breeders Club was the biggest buyer on the day.  

It’s a remarkable statement on the bloodstock industry, that in a world in which economists and bankers have become the “whistl blowers”, virtually every sale world-wide this year has moved strongly in a bullish direction.  Perhaps horses are an exception, for the fact that racing is now a universal business in which the western hemisphere is no longer the only dominant player.

The Hong Kong Breeders Club, which has interests in a number of stallions world-wide, have obviously adopted the strategic view of investing in sons of the world’s most dominant stallions of our era, DANEHILL, in a country in which there is a singular dearth of quality representatives.  We speak of course, of our own beloved South Africa, where breeders have pretty much missed the DANEHILL boat, save for Summerhill, where we have three Graded Stakes winning sons, and in two of which (WAY WEST and STRONGHOLD) the Hong Kong Breeders Club have a meaningful interest.

And they don’t only invest in stallions, because they know good mares make good stallions. In acquiring fifteen choice broodmares last season, they put their money where their mouths are.

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MIKE DE KOCK : Three runners in the World Thoroughbred Top 20

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Mike and Di de Kock (mikedekockracing/earthscan)

Three Mike de Kock runners, Archipenko, Honour Devil and Sun Classique (all joint 14th), feature in the World Thoroughbred Top 20, released by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities.  South African-breds, Jay Peg and Pocket Power, also occupy joint 14th spot.

Dubai Sheema Classic winner Sun Classique is the highest-rated filly in the world, while Honour Devil is fourth among the three-year-olds, headed only by Big Brown, Weekend Hussler and Henrythenavigator.

2008 Dubai World Cup winner Curlin, rated 130 pounds, heads the list of horses for the period 1 November 2007 to 4 May 2008.

The World Thoroughbred Top 20 (IFHA)

1. CURLIN (USA) 2. BIG BROWN (USA) 3. ADMIRE MOON (JPN) 3 SACRED KINGDOM (AUS) 5. GETAWAY (GER) 5. MEISHO SAMSON (JPN) 5.POP ROCK (JPN) 5 RAMONTI (FR) 6. WEEKEND HUSSLER (AUS) 12. HENRYTHENAVIGATOR (USA) 12. MATSURIDA GOGH (JPN) 14 ARCHIPENKO (USA). 14. DAWAI MAJOR (JPN) 14. JAY PEG (SAF) 14 DAIWA MAJOR (JPN) 14. EFFICIENT (NZ) 14. HONOUR DEVIL (ARG) 14 JAY PEG (SAF) 14 KIP DEVILLE (USA) 14. NEW APPROACH (IRE) 14 POCKET POWER (SAF); 14. SUN CLASSIQUE (AUS).

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JEFF LLOYD and PIERE STRYDOM : As good as the 'Best in the World'

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Jeff Lloyd and Piere Strydom

Any student of the racing game with an appreciation for its subtleties, will appreciate this. For years now, we’ve known that South Africa has no peers when it comes to the production of world-class jockeys, and we guess that Jeffery’s Lloyd’s victory in the Australian Derby (Gr1) last weekend was yet another endorsement of this statement. Back in Hong Kong, 16 of the last 17 jockeys’ titles in the dominion every jockey wants to ride in, tells us of the remarkable job the South African Jockey’s Academy has done in its 50 year existence (which incidentally, is celebrated this year in October).

Racegoers at Gauteng’s biggest race meeting of the year, witnessed eight Graded Stakes races last Saturday and a masterful exhibition from a jockey who is just about as good as anyone in the world right now.

Throughout last week, and in every interview before the cameras, Piere Strydom played down the prospects of his runners in the three Group Ones, the Gomma Gomma Challenge, the Computaform Sprint and the S.A.Derby. For the Challenge, he was aboard Eddington, whom he thought hadn’t stayed the trip in the SA Classic (over 1800m) a month before, and so he said he could see no reason why the horse should get the trip against his elders. He did concede though, in the same breath that his trainer Dominic Zaki, thought he would. For the Sprint, he thought Mythical Flight would be unbeatable, and that they would all be scrubbing their heads off, including his own mount, JJ The Jet Plane, to keep up with him. He said the trick was to bide one’s time without letting Mythical Flight get out of sight, and then run on for second money. In the Derby, he was on something of a “no-hoper”, Classic Oasis, and so the story went.

Come the day, and the first of the “big three”, the Derby, loomed with Strydom in imperious form. He pinched the lead at the right moment, and raced away from the field, opening up by six or seven lengths well into the straight, and it was only the class of King’s Gambit that cost him the race in the end. There were those that felt he had no right to be in the money at all, yet he held on for a gallant second from a fast finishing Rudra, and it was only jockeyship, and the obvious talk of the consummate “games-man” during the week that got him there.

Enter the Computaform Sprint, and it was just a matter of Mythical Flight having to fluff his lines in the treacherous conditions, and anything could happen. Perhaps in hindsight, it was predictable that this man Strydom, who must now surely rank among the all-time greats of South African racing, should bring his horse home in such style, keeping him balanced right to the line. For the record, Mythical Flight appears to have a “wind” problem.

And then for the big one, where despite his claims that the horse was an unlikely stayer, and having spoken his colleagues solidly to sleep during the week, he jumped Eddington out and led from pillar to post, going away by 2 ½ lengths at the death under a masterful ride.

Yes, Piere Strydom is a world class professional, but he’s not only skilled on a horse. He would’ve excelled in the legal profession as well, given the chance!

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DOUGLAS WHYTE rides 1000 winners in Hong Kong

douglas whyteDouglas Whyte (hkjc)Reigning champion jockey Douglas Whyte has become the first to ride 1,000 winners in Hong Kong, the milestone arriving thanks to four winners at Sha Tin on Sunday. The 37-year-old South African who has won the past seven Hong Kong jockey’s titles, reached win No. 1,000 on Bejewelled in The Li Cup. “Certainly it is an honour to ride my 1,000th winner in Hong Kong. It’s hard work and I am very happy about it.,” Douglas Whyte said.

Whyte’s effort is all the more impressive when it is considered there are only two meetings a week in Hong Kong.

Click here to watch video of Bejewelled winning The Li Cup 2008.

Click here to watch video tribute to Douglas Whyte. 

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MIKE DE KOCK : A tribute to IMBONGI

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Mike de Kock (hkjc)

You might’ve thought the most famous South African on Sunday was Mike de Kock, following yet another staggering international victory in Hong Kong with Archipenko. You would’ve thought he might find the “small beer” we all savoured with Imbongi’s win in the KZN Guineas at Greyville on Saturday, somewhat trifling.

Not a bit of it. Speaking to Mike yesterday, he said he was just as thrilled with the outcome of the Guineas as he was with the Queen Elizabeth II Cup victory, as it heralded a new beginning, and a promise of much bigger things to come. When we ventured that Imbongi could be the nation’s best three year old miler right now, de Kock shot back unhesitatingly with the view that he could be the best three year old. Period.

The horse’s connections face a new dilemma. Do they take on the older Horse of the Year, Pocket Power in the Drill Hall Stakes G2 (1400m at Greyville) and then proceed to battle the same formidable rival in the Gold Challenge G1 (both at Weight For Age) or do they test Imbongi’s stamina once again, by asking him to engage his contemporaries over 2000 metres in the Daily News G1, in the hope that he gets the trip and progresses to the Vodacom July?

While we both agree (Mike and ourselves) that he may have the speed of his former stablemate, Kildonan, to compete with the country’s top sprinters, we also have to question the view (though neither of us were convinced), that he may not have seen out the trip in the SA Classic G1, where he hit the front a furlong and a half out, and then faded the last bit, leaving the impression he may not have stayed. In mitigation, he was drawn sixteen out of sixteen, he came from fifteen lengths back, and he did so up the middle of the track, when the inside appeared to offer the best going on the day.

In the end though, there are much greater mortals capable of making this judgment than ourselves, and who better than Imbongi’s trainer and those who counsel him.

Click here to watch video of Imbongi winning the KZN Guineas 2008. 

 
Below are some of the kind notes of congratulations that we have received following Imbongi’s win.

Thanks for the hospitality on Saturday and for breeding a horse like Imbongi and selling him to us.Having been around racing for 35 years I realize that it must be as close as you can come to a miracle to get a horse like this as your first horse and at the price at which we got him.
From Michael Fleischer
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Dear Mick ,
Great win on Saturday. Well done . Two stakes wins now. He’s done you proud.
Alec Foster
Chairman
HIM Capital Limited, United Kingdom
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Dear All
Well done everyone! A great and very exciting win - even from this side of the Globe! Thanks to all concerned.
I wish I could share the celebrations with you. Thank you.
All the best.
Barry and Liz Clements
Perth, Australia
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WELL DONE MICK AND SUMMERHILL TEAM ON IMBONGI’S KZN GUINEAS WIN
LYTH ORFORD
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Well done. Great horse, great victory.
Stephen Gill, CEO Sheikh Mohammed’s Rabah Bloodstock, United Kingdom
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Well done, a thrilling win. The Summerhill roll seems endless
Peter and Val Fenix, South Africa
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Great stuff with Imbongi. You would’ve run first and second if Thandolwami had drawn well, I’m sure. He ran the fastest last 400m.
Craig Eudey
Trainer, South Africa
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Well done with Imbongi. Summerhill goes from strength to strength.
Owen Liebbrandt
Veteran Racehorse Owner, South Africa
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This is a great little horse and Summerhill is the “real deal”.
Michael Fleischer
Executive Vice President General Counsel
Gold Fields, Johannesburg, South Africa

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ARCHIPENKO easy winner in Audemars Piquet QEII Cup

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Archipenko (hkjc)

Everything that can be said has already been said about Mike de Kock. Saluting is no longer enough. In Zulu there is a word called “hlonipa”, which means utmost respect, and it’s often connected with royalty. We’re not sure there’s a peerage that adequately accommodates this man any longer, because he’s in a class of his own. South Africa can stand up as a nation, and in the process of acknowledging Archipenko’s victory in one of the world’s great races on Saturday for Mike de Kock, we can all take a bow.

Our horsemen have no need to stand back for anyone, as he and Kevin Shea amply reminded us again. Of course, this was a victory for others as well Sheikh Maktoum Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, as prized a customer of Summerhill as one could imagine, our friends at Ascot Stud, the guru Jehan Malherbe, the “Lion Tamer” John McVeigh and Mike de Kock himself all benefited enormously from the coveted R11 million purse which former Ballydoyle inmate, Archipenko, scooped in the famous and increasing Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong.

It was good to hear the National Anthem again. In these circumstances, you can’t grow tired of it!

Freeracer reports that ARCHIPENKO, prepared to perfection, ran out an easy winner of Sunday’s Audemars Piquet QEII Cup over 2000m at Sha-Tin in Hong Kong, rewarding the confidence of his connections.

Mike de Kock, Trevor Brown and Kevin Shea did not want to know about losing all week.

Archipenko had improved since finishing third in the Dubai Duty Free – a race he should arguably have won – and they knew that a repeat of that performance would be just about good enough.

He turned in that, and more, coming across from a wide draw to sit in fifth spot behind early leader Sir Slick, with the other strongly fancied runners Viva Pataca and Helene Mascot several lengths behind him.

The picture changed as the field turned for home. Matsurida Gogh made an early forward move with Viva Macau and pursuit and the back markers trying to get onto terms. Archipenko briefly appeared flatfooted, but Kevin Shea shook him up and he picked up the bit and started to reel them in stride for stride. He got to the front with 200m to go and won by two lengths with several more in hand. Balius and Viva Pataca finished second and third respectively, staying on from far back.

Mike de Kock and Kevin Shea agreed that this won’t be the last of Archipenko’s big wins. “When he came around the bend he was like a two-year-old not knowing what to do, but when he saw daylight he let rip.’’

Mike de Kock praised his staff for a great team effort and added: “Archipenko will go the UK now. He might race at Royal Ascot, but there are no firm plans at this stage.’’

Archipenko is owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum in partnership with Mike de Kock, Dr Ashley and Rose Parker, Jehan Malherbe, Dr. John McVeigh and Hugo Merry.

Click here to watch video of Archipenko winning Audemars Piguet QEII Cup 2008.

Extract from Mike de Kock Racing 

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SACRED KINGDOM to miss Royal Ascot... good news for TAKEOVER TARGET

takeover targetTakeover Target (Paul Harris)A piece of good news has fallen the way of Australia’s international sprint star Takeover Target with the decision that the world’s No.1 sprinter Sacred Kingdom won’t be running at the Royal meeting at Ascot.

Takeover Target heads overseas next month for a third appearance at the Royal meeting with a stop in Singapore on the way. He is one of a possible six Australian runners at the five-day meeting. It is almost certain that New Zealand’s top mare Seachange will also run at the meeting.

Sacred Kingdom had been the early favourite with British bookmakers to win the Gr1 Golden Jubilee Stakes. But Ascot spokesman Nick Smith said the chances appeared slim that he would make the trip. “I think Sacred Kingdom will be nominated for the Golden Jubilee but I have to say there’s maybe a 30 per cent chance of them coming as their focus is domestic.

“They have a domestic focus in Hong Kong and there is a lot of pressure for their horses to run in their best races, so they pick other targets very, very sparingly,” he added. “They want him at the top of his game for Hong Kong in December, so there is work to be done – but we haven’t given up, and next year I would be confident he will run.”

Other Australian runners being targeted by Royal Ascot are Casino Prince, Cefalu, Magnus, Miss Andretti and Universal Ruler.

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News 

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INGLIS AUSTRALIAN EASTER YEARLING SALE

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The Southern Hemisphere’s most prestigious bloodstock sale, the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale, begins this Sunday 20 April at Newmarket, Sydney.

In all, 502 of Australasia’s finest young horses are catalogued to be sold across Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, with a brand new Select Session II of 195 yearlings set down for Thursday, 24 April.

The Inglis Australian Easter Sale is the most important sale of yearlings in Australasia and attracts buyers from all points of the globe. This years big spenders is expected to be Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley organisation which recently purchased Woodlands Stud in a multi million-dollar deal; Nathan Tinkler ( Patinack Farm ), who has already spent in excess of $30 million on yearlings this year, and Bob Ingham, who is expected to purchase yearlings for his new trainer, Chris Waller.

The 2008 Easter Sale includes a three-quarter-sister to three-times Melbourne Cup winner Makybe Diva, along with siblings to multi million dollar earners like such as Racing To Win, Alinghi, Eremein, Grand Armee and Shogun Lodge. Half-relations to Hong Kong Champions Silent Witness and Sacred Kingdom will also be keenly sought after by buyers while the past two Golden Slipper winners Miss Finland ($450,000) and Forensics ($900,000) were both been sold at Easter and this year’s race includes no less than six graduates from last year’s Easter Sale - Reaan ($375,000), Krupt ($450,000), Von Costa De Hero ($1.2million), Related (P/I $350,000), Portillo ($850,000) and Burgeis ($160,000).

Saturday’s $3.5million Golden Slipper will feature a number of runners related to horses catalogued to be sold at the Inglis Easter Sale - these include a full-sister to Reaan, full-brother to Related, a three-quarter brother to Burgeis, a half-sister to Over The Wicket and half-brother to Portillo, which is sure to be one of the sale toppers.

Champion Sire Redoute’s Choice, whose progeny averaged $660,000 at this sale last year, is represented by 75 yearlings in the catalogue, while the current leading Australian stallion, Encosta De Lago, has 62 Easter babies.

Last year’s sale saw 447 young horses sell for a gross of more than $148million at a stunning average of $331,935. These included a record 23 yearlings that made $1million or more. The highlight was the  son of Rock Of Gibraltar out of L’on Vite - and therefore a three-parts brother to the multiple European Group one winner Holy Roman Empire - who was knocked down to Champion trainer Gai Waterhouse for $3million.

The Australian record mark of $3million was also achieved in 2006, with a son of Redoute’s Choice sold to leading South African trainer Charles Laird for the same amount.

With the Australian thoroughbred industry making a resilient recovery from last year’s equine influenza disaster, similar type fireworks are expected this week, with Inglis compiling its best ever Easter catalogue.

 

Extract from William Inglis & Son

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The DUBAI WORLD CUP: Another Perspective

Dubai Sheema Classic
                                Dubai Sheema Classic (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)


Everything that could be said about South Africa’s big night in Dubai has been said, at least from a racing perspective. But South Africans need to reflect for a moment. This wasn’t just about winning a few big races on another arbitrary big day. When the reality sets in, we’ll begin to realize that South Africa took home the laurels in 50% of the races on what has become one of the world’s biggest three days in racing, and on arguably the best publicized day in all of our sport.

Yet, the enormity of it all goes much further than that. The civilized world has always thought of this country as a pretty little spot (not without its complications, we should add) at the southernmost tip of the world’s darkest continent. Our racing has never really been looked upon by the outside community as anything more than an aberration in the country’s sporting firmament, and like Australia of ten to fifteen years ago, nobody ever really took our racing too seriously.

The truth is, on three prior occasions, South African trained horses have won at least 33% of the races on World Cup night, so this “fifty percenter” was not quite as unexpected to some of us as one might have thought, and was certainly no fluke. Not if you look at the way our horses won, and certainly not if you’re sincere in your appreciation of history.

Of course those of us who’ve been closely associated with the professionals that promote the game at home, have probably always had an inkling of how good our people are, without ever quite believing it. After all, the most sought-after jockey’s title in the world, (and we speak of Hong Kong, where most of the top journeymen of that profession have, at some stage or another, plied their trade,) has been in South African hands for something of the order of 17 of the past 18 or 19 seasons – did you hear that, or did you think you were dreaming?!

And since Mike de Kock, now a folk hero in the class of any victorious World Cup rugby captain, had the “balls” as the Aussies would call it, to test his skills against the world, he’s made the most emphatic statement about our trainers even an optimist of his calibre, could ever have hoped to. The fact is, Mike de Kock is an astonishingly capable man, not only as a horseman, but as a visionary, as an entrepreneur, as a man-manager and a risk-taker. And when it comes to “grey matter”, he’s up there with the intellectual colossi, too, though when it gets down to boxing, he’s been known to come up “ring rusty” on occasions.

Yet Mike de Kock would be the first to acknowledge that when it comes to horsemen, he’s far from isolated. In addition to his victorious compatriot, Herman Brown Jnr, our men and women at home and abroad include numbers of consummate talents in every avenue of equine endeavour, and we guess it’s appropriate to mention our breeders here, too. Those horses that represented us in Dubai on Saturday were, by and large, raised by some quality operators, none more so than Lionel Cohen, whose Sun Classique’s runaway in the Dubai Duty Free was as powerful a compliment to this remarkable man as you could imagine.

And let’s not forget all the adversity which migrants face in their adopted countries, people like David Payne and Jeff Lloyd in Australia, who have once again reminded the world that this country is a front for serious professionals.

Before closing, and since it’s appropriate on the eve of the nation’s biggest horse sale, perhaps we should ask ourselves how South African horses have managed to achieve their international competitiveness with such regularity. We know they’re well trained, and after Anton Marcus’ handling of Jay Peg on a slipping saddle on Saturday, we know they’re well ridden.

But they’d be nothing at all if they weren’t, at the same time, well raised. South Africa’s breeding industry, for all the wealth of many of its players, has never had the market to justify the purchase of the best international genetics. As a result, we must console ourselves with the thought that when it comes to producing quality horses, we’ve had to get up a bit earlier. And that’s where our intimacy with the environment, the skills of our people and the “elbow grease” with our matings, has had to be different. We’ve had to be smarter, we’ve had to be more innovative and as important as any, we’ve had to put in different hours. It’s the only way we can remain competitive, and thankfully, South Africans have never been short on industry and commitment.

For those that live in foreign climes and are possessed of the currencies that quickly convert into millions of Rands, this must now be the most attractive thoroughbred marketplace in the world. So I guess it would be appropriate to finish with a “salute” for Mike de Kock, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum, Herman Brown, Basil Marcus, Mike Bass, Lionel Cohen, Etienne Braun, Selwyn Marcus, Marsh Shirtliff, Ascot Stud,Warne Rippon and RMG Syndicate for their courage and enterprise in highlighting the virtues of our horses and horsemen in such an extraordinary fashion.

Posted by Mick Goss

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DUBAI WORLD CUP - Big South African Contingent

CurlinCurlin (equinephoto)A record-equalling field of 13, led by US Horse of the Year, Curlin, could go to post for the US$ 6million 2008 Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates Airline, on March 29.

The Dubai Racing Club today reveals the likely fields for the seven races at the US$21.25 million race meeting, the world’s richest raceday, which could see horses representing trainers from as many as 16 countries.

The final fields will be declared on Monday, March 24, and then released at the Post Position Draw ceremony on Wednesday, March 26.

The 2000 running of the world’s richest race, won by Dubai Millenium, attracted 13 runners too, and this year’s renewal should also live long in the memory.

The top-rated horse in the world, Curlin, is set to face tough competition from Godolphin’s duo of Happy Boy and Jalil, winners of the Maktoum Challenge Rounds 1 and 3.

The 2007 Dubai World Cup runner-up and fourth, Premium Tap and Vermilion, are also earmarked for the 2000m showpiece on dirt, as well as last year’s UAE Derby winner Asiatic Boy. Lucky Find may also find himself in this race else the other option for him is the Godolphin Mile.

There are three other Group 1 races on the card, headlined by the Dubai Sheema Classic, sponsored by Nakheel.

The US$ 5million contest is sure to have a maximum field of 16 runners, in which Hong Kong champion Viva Pataca will bid to emulate Vengeance Of Rain, who won the race last year. Connections of Youmzain, third in the 12 months ago, and the globetrotting Doctor Dino will also fancy their chances of victory. Sushisan and Oracle West, also with Sun Classique, feature in this event from a South African perspective.

The US$ 5million Dubai Duty Free, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free, also looks likely to have 16 runners, headed by the top-class fillies, Darjina, Finsceal Beo, Vodka, Seachange, West Wind and Majestic Roi. South African interest includes Archipenko, Jay Peg and Linngari.

The other Group 1 race on the card is the US$2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen, sponsored by Gulf News, which sees the usual strong American challenge, led by Idiot Proof and Benny The Bull, as well as Godolphin’s Diabolical, who was so impressive when winning the Mahab Al Shimaal on Super Thursday. Narc will make his Dubai debut in this race with stablemate Drift Ice also a likely runner.

The US$ 2million UAE Derby, sponsored by Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group, features the South African-trained duo of Royal Vintage and Honour Devil, who have dominated the UAE three-year-old division this season.

The other thoroughbred race on the card is the US$ 1million Godolphin Mile, sponsored by Etisalat, in which American raider Barcola will aim to give back-to-back wins for Paul Reddam, following Spring At Last’s win 12 months ago.

The best Purebred Arabians in the world line up for the Dubai Kahayla Classic, sponsored by Emaar Properties, and will see Madjani attempt a record-breaking fourth win in the race.

Extract from SA Horseracing.com 

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TURFFONTEIN GUINEAS - Racegoers set for a feast

Bold EllinorBold Ellinor (Gold Circle) It’s Guineas day at Turffontein tomorrow and, with a bumper meeting offering no less than four high-class races; local racegoers are in for a veritable feast of racing. The Gr1 Empress Club Stakes heads the card and the line-up for this mile race appears especially tough, with a talented trio of sophomores taking on some formidable older opponents.

Mike de Kock’s Champion Juvenile Filly Rat Burana ( Dodge ) has acquitted herself creditably in two feature prep runs this season and the Brazilian-bred should be at peak fitness for this contest. Following a lengthy layoff, she finished third behind Joshlin in the Sceptre Stakes and then ran on late when fourth behind Dancer’s Daughter in the Majorca.

Stable companion Bold Ellinore ( Kahal ), third in last year’s race, showed her well-being when placed in a sprint two weeks ago and will be partnered by Anthony Delpech, who has just returned from a successful five-year stint in Hong Kong.

Extract from European Bloodstock News

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ANTHONY DELPECH terminates contract with Hong Kong Jockey Club

Anthony DelpechAnthony DelpechAnthony Delpech has decided to terminate his contract with the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

“Racing Management this morning met with Jockey Anthony Delpech who advised that he wished for his current club jockey’s agreement with the Club to be terminated with immediate effect,” said the Hong Kong Jockey Club in a statement earlier today.

Jockey Delpech stated that following the recent retirement of VENGEANCE OF RAIN together with the level of success he has been able to achieve during the current racing season, he wanted to immediately return to South Africa with his family. Jockey Delpech’s request will now be placed before the Licensing Committee for their consideration.

Delpech scored many famous victories aboard the top class Vengeance of Rain. He will be returning to South Africa with no current plans to further his career elsewhere. He is also immediately available to take rides.

Delpech’s South African racing accolades include two Durban July wins on Classic Flag and Greys Inn. He also holds the South African record for most number of wins in a season; an incredible 335 set in 1998/1999.

Delpech rose to international prominence when he scored a series of victories on Vengeance of Rain. The David Ferraris inmate was the darling of Hong Kong until his recent retirement. Delpech and Ferraris are adored by the Hong Kong racing fans due to this horse and the three received cult status in the sprawling city.

Extract from SA Horseracing.com

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South Africa steals European thunder in Hong Kong Group 1

Champion South African mare Irridescence may well have been deprived of a run in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free last month after a freak accident in the paddock before the race but today she turned the tables and led from barrier to post to win Hong Kong’s $14m Group 1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup at odds of 5-1. The mare is trained by South Africa’s legendary trainer Mike de Kock and was ridden by Weichong Marwing. Irridescence held on by a head from runner-up Best Gift, with Ouja Board the same distance back in third.

Of note, the “born or raised in South Africa” label attached to no less than 4 jockeys in today’s race: Weichong Marwing (Irridescence), Felix Coetzee (Russian Pearl), Glyn Schofield (River Dancer), Douglas Whyte (Falstaff).

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