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VODACOM DURBAN JULY : Final Field 2009

vodacom durban july logo

NO DRAW HORSE AGE WEIGHT MR TRAINER JOCKEY
1 12 POCKET POWER 6 58 121 MIKE BASS B FAYD’HERBE
2 2 OUR GIANT (AUS) 5 55 115 CHARLES LAIRD A MARCUS
3 13 BUY AND SELL 5 53 111 SEAN TARRY F COETZEE
4 5 KAPIL 6 52.5 110 STAN ELLEY P STRYDOM
5 17 SMART BANKER 4 52.5 110 CHARLES LAIRD B NYAWO
6 15 RIVER JETEZ 5 51.5 108 MIKE BASS G HATT
7 10 BIG CITY LIFE 3 51 107 GLEN KOTZEN G CHEYNE
8 1 TROPICAL EMPIRE (AUS) 6 51 106 DUNCAN HOWELLS B LERENA
9 20 FOREST PATH 3 51 105 MIKE DE KOCK W KENNEDY
10 16 LIKEITHOT 6 51 105 CHARLES LAIRD A FORBES
11 18 ALUMINIUM (ARG) 4 51 103 GEOFF WOODRUFF M KHAN
12 8 CATMANDU 5 51 102 ANDRE KIRSTEN K DERERE
13 7 THANDOLWAMI 4 51 102 CRAIG EUDEY R DANIELSON
14 14 BOUQUET-GARNI 3 51 101 MIKE DE KOCK M BYLEVELD
15 6 METEOR SHOWER (IRE) 6 51 100 MIKE BASS R FOURIE
16 3 THUNDERING JET 4 51 100 MIKE BASS M YENI
17 4 CAPE TOWN 4 51 97 GAVIN VAN ZYL K TEETAN
18 11 LONDON GUEST 6 51 97 TONY RIVALLAND D DANIELS
19 9 OUTCOME 5 50 103 MICHAEL MILLER G SCHLECHTER
20 19 ZIRCONEUM 3 50 103 MIKE DE KOCK A DELPECH

Fame And Glory lands lucky 10 for Investec Derby

fame and gloryFame and Glory
(Photo : Tattersalls/Marler)

News from the UK’s Racing Post is that Fame And Glory has been allotted the “lucky” stall ten in Saturday’s Investec Derby, for which all 13 colts stood their ground at Thursday’s declaration stage.

Since 1984 seven winners - Sir Percy, Galileo, Generous, Quest For Fame, Nashwan, Reference Point and Shahrastani - have come from a draw in ten.

Favourite and Stanjames.com 2,000 Guineas winner Sea The Stars has been drawn in stall four, while Fame And Glory’s stablemate Rip Van Winkle will come from stall nine.

Paddy Power
make Sea The Stars their 11-4 favourite with Ballydoyle pair Fame And Glory and Rip Van Winkle inseparable at4-1.

Paddy Power spokesman Paddy Power said: “Rip Van Winkle may have slept for 20 years in Irving’s short story, but punters have not rested since Johnny Murtagh’s preference for the character’s equine namesake was announced on Tuesday.

“We can’t separate Rip Van Winkle and Fame And Glory and it’s a tight call which of Aidan’s two apparent leading lights will go off shortest.”

INVESTEC EPSOM OAKS : The 231st Renewal

john gosden investec oaks

John Gosden
(Photos : Team Talk/HKLM)

 

The 231st renewal of the Gr1 Investec Oaks to be run over a mile and a half on Investec Ladies Day Friday at Epsom Downs Racecourse , sees 10 fillies going to post with no surprises among yesterday’s scratchings.

 

The Thoroughbred Daily News reports that with so few in the contest, the outside draw for owner George Strawbridge’s Rainbow View (Dynaformer) should not count as a disadvantage. The last two winners were drawn in double-figure stalls, and last year’s Gr1 Fillies’ Mile heroine is poised for the big day after a visit to the Downs for last week’s “Breakfast with the Stars” morning. Of more concern is her ability to rebound from a fifth in the Gr1 1000 Guineas on May 3, and see out the extra half mile.

 

“I’m very clear in my mind that she will stay a mile and a quarter, but I don’t know about a mile and a half - you can only find out when you race them,” trainer John Gosden commented. “In terms of the Guineas, it was down to the ground being like a road, and she hated it and looked after herself. Her work before the Guineas was very good, so it was not about not having trained on. I really like the two fillies Sariska (Pivotal) and Midday (Oasis Dream), who won their trials and set a very high standard along with Rainbow View so it is a good Oaks as the front ones are pretty smart.”

 

Jockey Jimmy Fortune is hoping Rainbow View’s Newmarket effort can become a distant memory by Friday evening and added, “I knew after going two or three furlongs there, I wasn’t going to win as she changed her legs before she hit the “dip”, so I wasn’t too hard on her because it was the start of the year. She came back from the race in good form and she got a strongly-run mile at two at Ascot, so you’d have to say she’ll definitely get a mile and a quarter and is bred to get a mile and a half.”

 

Clive Brittain is no stranger to success at Epsom and bids to roll back the years with Saeed Manana’s Wadaat (Diktat). While the May 24 Gr2 Oaks d’Italia runner-up boasts none of the credentials of the stable’s 1992 heroine User Friendly (Slip Anchor), connections are hopeful she can bridge the gap. “My filly is nice and I know on the ratings she has a bit to find, but she is in with a shout,” jockey Neil Callan said. “She saw the trip out well in Italy and, like all of Clive’s fillies, she’s fit and tough and will be going there on merit.”

 

Of the outsiders, Julie Wood’s The Miniver Rose (High Chaparral) needs to improve on her second to Apple Charlotte (Royal Applause) in the 15 May Listed Swettenham Stud Fillies’ Trial Stakes at Newbury, which was the race used as a springboard to success for the 2005 Oaks heroine Eswarah (Unfuwain).

Her trainer Richard Hannon said, “The Oaks has been the plan for some time now, and The Miniver Rose deserves to take her chance. She is a quirky filly, but very talented, and since we moved her across from Everleigh to our Herridge yard she has behaved much better. She isn’t blessed with tons of speed, so the step up to a mile and a half should suit her. ”The going remains good, and Director of Racing Andrew Cooper said, “The ground is currently spot on and I am glad we took the decision to water when we did. I would have no hesitation in calling it good in the main. It is a little bit quicker in places, mainly on the climb up the back straight.”

Comment

BETTING WORLD 1900 : Pointer to Vodacom Durban July

Thandolwami
(Photo : Gold Circle)

Tonight’s Grade 2 Betting World 1900 at Greyville sees a highly competitive field lining up for this traditional pointer to the Grade 1 Vodacom Durban July.

With four Summerhill graduates prepped for battle; Thandolwami, Catmandu, Dynamite Mike and Let’s Get Started (Reserve), it is sure to be a cracker.

Jack Milner writes for Tab Online that the on-fire Thandolwami must be every owner’s dream. Purchased for just R80,000, Thandolwami (Woodborough x My Sweet Love) has amassed R820,150 in stake-money and can become another “Equine Millionaire” if victorious in tonight’s R350,000 feature.

Summerveld-based trainer, Craig Eudey, has done a great job with this talented four-year-old, who seems to be getting better with every run. A useful three-year-old, he has now come of age and following some high-class recent efforts, is overdue to record a big win.

Thandolwami’s recent form is most consistent. He finished second to Likeithot in the Charity Mile November Handicap, fifth behind Rudra in the Steinhoff Summer Cup, a fast finishing second to Pirate’s Gold in the King’s Cup and a one-length third behind Smart Banker in last month’s Champions Challenge at Turffontein.

He has saved some of his best performances for Greyville racecourse though, having won three of his six starts at the track and placing on three other occasions. A strange phenomenon if one considers how he loves to challenge from well off the pace.

Thandolwami will once again be partnered by jockey Raymond Danielson, who has established a fine understanding with the gelding. He has piloted Thandolwami in his last seven starts for two wins, three places and two close-up fifths.

Catmandu (Makaarem x Gypsey Spirit) is in superb form and is another fighter who loves the Greyville track. In last year’s running of this very race he was denied by a nostril at the hands of Jet Master’s full sister, River Jetez. After a couple of mediocre performances, Gauteng trainer Andre Kirsten’s charge seems to have regained his touch and last time out in the Grade 1 Champions Challenge, Catmandu ran just 0.75 lengths adrift of Thandolwami, despite having to switch for a clear run.

Other big names in the race include Charles Laird’s Crown Of Power; Mike Bass’ Thundering Jet, Air Combat and Judged Excellent; Gavin van Zyl’s Cape Town and Duncan Howells’ Tropical Empire.

The big race kicks off at 20:40.

R350,000 Betting World 1900 Grade 2
Final Field

No Horse Kg MR Dr Jockey Trainer
1 Singing Sword 60.0 104 7 D Masour Tyrone Zackey
2 Thundering Jet 59.5 103 17 B Fayd’Herbe Mike Bass
3 Catmandu 59.0 102 9 G Wrogemann Andre Kirsten
4 Thandolwami 59.0 102 10 R Danielson Craig Eudey
5 Vision Of Grandeur (Ire) 58 100 2 F Coetzee Justin Snaith
6 Tropical Empire (Aus) 57.5 99 11 B Lerena Duncan Howells
7 Wonder Lawn 57.5 99 8 S Randolph Dean Kannemeyer
8 Air Combat 56.5 97 1 G Lerena Mike Bass
9 Crown Of Power 56.5 97 6 A Marcus Charles Laird
10 Pirate’s Gold 56 96 18 S Cormack Glen Kotzen
11 Cape Town 55 94 14 K Shea Gavin van Zyl
12 Dynamite Mike 55 94 5 K Jupp Kumaran Naidoo
13 Full Power (Arg) 54.5 93 13 D L Habib Geoff Woodruff
14 Judged Excellent 54.5 93 12 A Delpech Mike Bass
15 Al Pasha 53.5 91 16 M Byleveld Dean Kannemeyer
16 Kiribati 52 92 15 D Daniels Sean Tarry
17 Mr. Esplendid (Arg) (Reserve) 52 88 4 Reserve 2 Joey Ramsden
18 Let’s Get Started (Reserve) 52 81 3 Reserve 1 Alyson Wright

Comment

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.

Jay Peg sends stopwatches flying in Singapore

Jay Peg
Kranji, Singapore, 14 May 2009
(Photo : Singapore Turf Club
)

The final countdown to the 2009 renewals of the Singapore Airlines International Cup and KrisFlyer International Sprint has begun.

 

This morning’s trackwork session at Kranji racecourse wound down to a sedatory pace, with most runners having already concluded the bulk of their preparations.

 

Interesting news from the Singapore Turf Club is that the only candidate to send stopwatches flying was the Herman Brown-trained 2008 Singapore Airlines International Cup winner, Jay Peg, who put a broad smile on his South African connections with a solid hit-out on the Polytrack, underlining his spot-on condition ahead of the $3million race. A bullish assitant-trainer Nicolas Iguacel could not resist sending out an ominous warning after the workout: “More than ready to defend his title!”

 

Jay Peg winning the
2008 Singapore Airlines International Cup Gr1

INVESTEC SPONSORS ONE OF THE WORLD’S BIG FIVE

investec“Investec to sponsor English Derby”

Ask any student of racing twenty years ago which the greatest racing event in the world was, and they would’ve unhesitatingly answered the English Derby. Today the title is a vigorous contest between the “Derby” (as it’s commonly known), Paris’ Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Dubai’s World Cup, the Melbourne Cup, the Kentucky Derby, and perhaps the Japan Cup. Certainly, if not alone the greatest, the English Derby stands apart as the most famous.

For all that, who would ever have expected an upstart South African bank to become the Derby’s sponsor? Upstart, did we say? Yes, in global terms that’s probably an apt description, but Investec has always been an innovator, a “breed-shaper”, as we might term it in racing parlance, and that’s exactly what the local banking pacemaker agreed to this week for the next five years.

No doubt, the hand of Bernard Kantor, avid racing man and the fellow that bought us Count Dubois, was more than prominent in this relationship, which follows a £38 million revamp of the Derby’s home, Epsom Downs.

Did we leave out another marquee event when we counted the “big five”? Yes, we probably did, and that’s Royal Ascot’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, which for almost two decades was sponsored by South Africa’s De Beers. The difference here is that, at the time, De Beers happened to be the world’s biggest diamond producer, whilst Investec has a way to go before it can claim the same status in the banking world. Maybe, just maybe, this is a precursor of what’s to come.

Well done, Investec. From one champion team to another, we salute you.

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 COMPUTAFORM SPRINT

“COULD THIS DECIDE THE SPRINT CHAMPIONSHIP?”
If you take a walk down memory lane, you’ll very quickly reach the conclusion that the Computaform Sprint is in all probability the defining race on the South African sprinting calendar. In the last ten years alone, the names of Tommy Hotspur and Golden Loom (2 x’s) precede a succession of quite the most outstanding sextet of sprinters imaginable. Starting in 2002 with Laisserfaire, National Currency, Cataloochee (who had to get past six times Equus Awards nominee, Nhlavini to take the honours,) National Colour, Mythical Flight and J.J.The Jet Plane, you’re quick to realise what kind of a contest we’re in for.

This year is no different, as the horse who’s constantly had to take on these famous exponents of the art of sprinting, the Summerhill-bred Rebel King, is among those going to post, and he really is the one carrying the standard for the older brigade, though the second highest rated of the older horses is another graduate of our paddocks, Battlestar Express.

That said, the talk is about the youngsters right now, and here Warm White Night and Private Jet carry the tag of the young pretenders. Interestingly, stable jockey Anton Marcus has opted for the mount on Warm White Night, while Andrew Fortune is aboard our gladiator. They’ll have to be good, we think, as a win here for Rebel King would almost certainly close the door on the sprinters’ championship.

THE SA DERBY : SA's richest event for three-year-olds

“THE JEWEL IN THE THREE YEAR OLD CROWN”

The South African Derby has a rich tradition of producing great horses, and they’re not just great for winning this race, but they have to have the stamina, the talent and the guts, (and plenty of it) to prevail here. Turffontein is renowned as one of the toughest tracks in the world, and especially for its murderous 800m strait, which has broken more hearts than you’d care to remember.

Don’t forget too, that when they’ve repulsed all foes of the conventional Derby distance, (2400m) at Turffontein they’ve still got to find another fifty, for some odd reason, and Saturday won’t necessarily be the first time the lead changes two or three times again in that space.

For the three-year-olds walloping themselves down the lung-busting stretch for R1.5 million on Saturday, anything can happen, since none of them have been tested at the distance, and it’s all up in the air. You’d have to say though, that on class, the obvious horses are Cherise Cherry and Sporting Boy, especially with the withdrawal (sold to Hong Kong) of Mount Hood. We’d not be dismissive though, of the claims of Labeeb’s son, Magical, winner of his last three in a row including the Derby Trial, or Fenerbahce for that matter, who at his best has shown himself entitled to be ranked with the better three-year-olds in the nation. He’s been below par in his last two though, and something’s been amiss, though it comes as a considerable reassurance to see Andrew Fortune claiming the ride. For the record, he was a R425,000 graduate of the Summerhill 2007 2007 Ready To Run draft.

The other Summerhill engage, Mr Softee, comes off a gallant second to Magical in the Derby Trial at his first attempt beyond 1600m, and it may just be that he’s been waiting for this moment to show his best. Curiously, top jockey Sean Cormack takes the ride.

THE CHAMPIONS MEETING : A Big Day for Summerhill

 

There can’t be too many race meetings in the world that boast eight Graded Stakes races, yet that’s what racegoers can look forward to Saturday at Turffontein, and if the last few months are anything to go by, we can count on some big hitting contests. For Summerhill, we have sixteen footsoldiers on duty in the Graded races, but for the time being, we’ll concentrate our comments on the three Grade Ones, kicking off with the top-biller, the Champions Challenge (Gr.1) for all of R2 million.

There are a lot of pundits who would make the quartet of Smart Banker, Likeithot, Senor Versace and Crown Of Power from the Charles Laird stable a “shoe-in” for the laurels, but we’re not sure it’s that cut and dried. Much will be claimed by the connections of Buy And Sell, Surfin’ USA (whose mother Fenn Tarbitt-owned Palm Beach Gold is a resident mare at Summerhill), Forest Path and Zirconium, while Ormond Ferraris will be hoping that his gallant mare, She’s On Fire, is able to reproduce the run which carried her into second spot last year.

Charles Laird may well have four aspirants engaged in the big one, but we’re not without our own hopes, headed up by the horse that managed second place in the event a year ago, Catmandu, on-fire Thandolwami, and the heroine of the prestigious Gerald Rosenberg Stakes at her last start, Spring Garland, while Steve Sturlese’s El Padrino rounds it out. There are some doubts about the stamina limitations of Thandolwami and El Padrino, but the former has managed a decent draw for the first time in heavens-knows-how long, and he seems to have a love for Turffontein and its long strait. How many times has this fellow been beaten by the fact that he’s run out of space at Greyville, and we only have to go back to November to see him running within a quarter length of Likeithot on precisely the same weight terms as they meet on Saturday? For what it’s worth, Hartford hosted Champion Jockey, Anthony Delpech over the Election holiday, and he believes only altitude can deny Thandolwami his due. Some recommendation from a world class rider.

The fact is, Summerhill graduates make up 25% of the field in what is one of the richest races in the nation, and that tells you all you need to know about their upbringings.

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 : www.racingweb.co.za)

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 racingweb.co.za: “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 BECKONS : SUMMERHILL WILL BE THERE

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.

Visit
www.mikedekockracing.com

Dancer's Daughter in Mint Condition

dancers daughter empress club stakesDancer’s Daughter winning the Empress Club Stakes (Gr1)
(Photo : Phumelela)

David Thiselton reports that Dancer’s Daughter on Monday checked into Clairwood for the Champions Season 2009.

Trainer Justin Snaith rode Dancer’s Daughter out yesterday and said that the superstar grey mare was very well. Jockey Bernard Fayd’herbe will work ride her today.

“She has been in a very bad mood today,” said Justin Snaith, who has always stated that a foul mood is the signal to him that the mare is in the mint of condition.

Pocket Power, arch rival to Dancer’s Daughter, settled in at Clairwood just under two weeks ago, with the pair’s rivalry promising to feature epic in the Champions Season.

The first Dancer’s Daughter versus Pocket Power clash might once again be delivered in the form of the Grade 1 Gold Challenge over 1600m at Clairwood, come 13 June.

To date the score stands at : Pocket Power two-and-a-half and Dancer’s Daughter one-and-a-half; with Dancer’s Daughter beating Pocket Power when taking victory in last season’s Gold Challenge, the pair dead-heated in the 2008 Vodacom Durban July thriller and Pocket Power beat Dancer’s Daughter when finishing second in the 2008 Champion’s Cup.

Pocket Power took an historic third victory in this year’s renewal of the J&B Met and Justin Snaith will be determined for Dancer’s Daughter set the score straight in the 2009 Vodacom Durban July.

Countdown to Dubai World Cup Extravaganza

Art Of War
(Photo : ERA) 

 

R250 MILLION AT STAKE:
WHO’LL GET THE LION’S SHARE?

Sheikh Mohammed’s great racing extravaganza goes to the wire on Saturday evening. The racing programmes of most countries have taken centuries to sculpt, yet the Maktoum Family have managed to put together our sport’s most spectacular showpiece in a matter of a decade. Whatever else the Dubai World Cup meeting may be, it’s the undisputed leader in prize money. Simply put, it is racing’s richest day.

South African-connected horses have developed an enviable record through the exploits mainly of Mike de Kock and his compatriot, Herman Brown Jnr, in the past six or seven seasons. In two of the past three years, Mike de Kock singlehandedly took home a third of the evening’s six prizes, and last year, between him and Herman Brown, they accounted for 50% (or three) of the night’s best entertainment. What that equated to in Rand earnings, we’re not sure, but it must’ve been close to R50 million, a number that would’ve had a number of the world’s top racing countries sneezing.

Whichever way you look at it, what it did signal was the arrival, once and for all, of South Africa’s horses and South Africa’s horsemen on the world racing stage, and we have the exploits of these fellows to thank for the fact that our stock, about to go to the Emperor’s Palace National Yearling Sales, are now firmly in the sights of anyone looking for a good horse at a fair price. South African horses have no peers when it comes to value, simple as that.

Back to Saturday evening’s events, it’s unfortunate Imbongi won’t be lining up for the $5 million Dubai Duty Free, so he’ll be going to Hong Kong for the Group One mile a fresh horse, if that’s any consolation.

However, there’ll still be two graduates of the farm in action at a meeting which commences at 5pm, the first of which is Art Of War, who’ll be doing battle for the country in the $2 million Godolphin Mile. He’s been one of the revelations of the Dubai Carnival, and we’re looking for a bold showing from this nuggety little son of the emerging giant among South African sires, Kahal.

Muhtafal is represented by Gail Fabricius’ Summerhill-bred and raised Paris Perfect, erstwhile Horse Of The Year in the Eastern Cape. It will come as no small boost to that regions racing to know that a horse that started out in Port Elizabeth, has made the cut for the richest race in the world from his new base in Saudi Arabia, from whence we’re hearing good things from his trainer, Neil Bruss, about his prospects. Let’s not forget, he takes on some of the best horses in the world at a distance which is arguably further than his optimum, but you can never get a good man down, especially when his father is Muhtafal.

Whatever the outcome, you can bet on a great show, and we’ll all be rooting like hell from the Summerhill office when the games get underway.

ASIATIC BOY... The Man-Eater

asiatic boy dubai world cup (michael nefdt)Asiatic Boy
(Photos : Mike de Kock Racing/DRC)

Mike de Kock is loaded for the Dubai World Cup”, writes Marcus Hersh for America’s Turf Authority, Daily Racing Form :

“They came whizzing past the Nad Al Sheba grandstand about 6:30 Tuesday morning like this was a Los Angeles freeway. No sooner had trainer Mike de Kock turned his binoculars away from one pair of work horses than the glasses were trained on another pair breaking off down the backstretch. In all, eight Mike de Kock horses breezed in quick succession, and barring misfortune, all will run on the Dubai World Cup program here Saturday night. The filly Front House, one of the favorites in the $5 million Sheema Classic, exercised on a treadmill rather than the racetrack Tuesday. And Mike de Kock’s 10th World Cup Night horse, Asiatic Boy, was still back at the training yard.

An hour after those eight worked, Asiatic Boy had his final drill for the $6 million Dubai World Cup, breezing who knows how far over the brand spanking new training track constructed to accompany the new Meydan racetrack that opens next winter. Reaching out eagerly over the pristine Tapeta synthetic surface, Asiatic Boy did nothing to dispel the notion that this is his year. Two winters ago, he looked like a future World Cup winner, romping by almost 10 lengths in the UAE Derby. Last year, he ran into a little problem finishing second in the World Cup – a horse named Curlin. But Asiatic Boy’s preparations for the big race have gone more smoothly this time, a year when there is no standout like Curlin. Asiatic Boy’s owner, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum of Dubai, can now only hope for a decent draw and racing luck.

“It’s his dream to win this race,” Mike de Kock said.

Sheikh Mohammed’s dream, and maybe Mike de Kock’s destiny. The South African master horseman has settled into a position as Dubai’s most prominent trainer not named Saeed bin Suroor. On last year’s World Cup card he won two races - the UAE Derby with Honour Devil and the Sheema Classic with Sun Classique - and finished second in two others. While maintaining a strong presence in South Africa (he has three entries in the second leg of the South African Triple Crown on Saturday), Mike de Kock gears his winter around the Dubai Winter Carnival and to an even greater extent the World Cup program itself. And his horses have a way of showing their best when it counts.

If that happens, Mike de Kock could win three Saturday night. Arlington Million runner-up Archipenko, who had an easy turf work Tuesday in company with Lucky Find, was a troubled second in the 2008 Dubai Duty Free and is one of the top horses in this year’s race. Mike de Kock also pre-entered two other capable horses in the Dubai Duty Free, Russian Sage and Bankable. And even with his top 12-furlong horse Eagle Mountain injured and out of the Sheema Classic, he has Front House, King of Rome, and Macarthur for that race.

Argentine-bred Asiatic Boy will be Mike de Kock’s lone World Cup starter, with World Cup hopes for Honour Devil abandoned this week. But one might be enough. Asiatic Boy was purchased out of South America in summer 2006 and has made 9 of his 11 starts since at Nad Al Sheba. In summer 2007, he was taken to England for a turf campaign, finishing fourth and fifth in a pair of Group 1’s; Asiatic Boy was there last summer, too, but never raced.

“In England, he was never himself,” Mike de Kock said. “He had all kinds of little respiratory infections and things.”

And European turf racing also cut down Asiatic Boy’s form.

“He wants it firm and fast,” Mike de Kock said. “He wants to stay on top of the ground.”

But a one-surface pony Asiatic Boy is not, and he handles synthetic tracks at least as well as dirt. The horse’s affinity for both surfaces, and his discomfort on Euro-style turf, has led his connections to contemplate a U.S. invasion later this year.

Mike de Kock said the horse “flew over the ground” training on all-weather surfaces in England, and his all-weather work Tuesday drew high praise from Mike de Kock. The old dirt training track here, which Mike de Kock used regularly, closed this winter, and the new training track opened only three days ago. Set on high ground about a half-mile southwest of Nad Al Sheba, the nine-furlong track is mainly still a construction zone. A turf oval inside the Tapeta track has yet to be installed, the viewing building situated in the middle of the stretch is a work in progress, and there are no furlong poles up yet. Mike de Kock not only did not know how fast Asiatic Boy had worked, he did not know exactly how far.

But time meant little to Mike de Kock compared to the way Asiatic Boy stretched out over the surface. Tuesday marked Asiatic Boy’s second day on the Tapeta track, and spending the week of the World Cup on the synthetic surface could boost his chances Saturday. Training every day on dirt, Asiatic Boy has recently seemed unhappy and vaguely flat to his handlers.

“He tried to get me today,” Mike de Kock happily exclaimed, back at his office an hour later. “It was like the old Asiatic Boy. He’s a man-eater. I’ve been going out of my head, really, the last couple weeks, going back over my training books to see what we were doing before.”

While Mike de Kock has had as much success as anyone on the Nad Al Sheba dirt, he does not care for the surface.

“The dirt track here is not good for horses,” he said. The kickback in behind the pace can be intense, and trailing runners are at a major disadvantage. “You train for speed and stamina. Half the time, you’re training here just to make sure nothing’s going wrong.”

What can go wrong with Asiatic Boy are his hind feet. Mike de Kock said the horse is among the soundest he’s seen, but twice he has lost the inside part of a hind hoof. When he trains, he doesn’t wear shoes on his hind feet, which are shod only the day of the race.

And this much is likely: Asiatic Boy will have his running shoes on Saturday night.”

ICE ICE BABY : White Turf Racing

white turf racing
White Turf Racing
(Photo :  Swiss Image/Foto Homberger
)

Whilst things are “hotting up” in the desert in anticipation of the running of the world’s richest horse race in Dubai, we thought we would share an experience of the other extreme.  In a land famous for its skiing, Toblerone chocolate, cheese, breathtaking Alpine vistas, timepieces and the auspicious gatherings at Davos, an amazing racing spectacle takes place annually in ski utopia Arosa and glitzy St Moritz.  Although the Swiss have been attached to horses since Roman times, horse racing is relatively new and popular, with annual betting topping over 100 million Swiss Francs. 

The annual White Turf Racing event attracts competitors from 8 different countries, where horses are fitted with special shoes, and race on a frozen lake.  No mean feat:  the ice is between 40 and 80 cm thick, and needs to withstand 20 000 tonnes - 10 000 people, 75 tents, 1000 cars, chandeliers and crates of champagne, of course!   Another popular event is skikjoering – courageous young men and women don skis and are drawn behind horses, at cheek-wobbling speeds. 

Definitely a case of “frozen, and slurred”!

REFLECTIONS OF A SHEIKH

sheikh mohammed bin khalifa al maktoumHis Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Matoum
(Photo : Summerhill Sires Brochure 2008/2009)

It’s a strange marvel of human behaviour that racing induces such incredible emotions in us. When all is said and done, true racing people are made of the same stuff, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifah Al Maktoum is no different. Speaking to his right-hand man, Mohammed Khaleel, in the wake of Thursday evening’s events in Dubai, he spoke of the Sheikh’s ecstasy at Asiatic Boy’s grand run, but he was no less complimentary about the efforts of Art Of War and Imbongi.

You’d think their thoughts were riveted solely on racing’s big night at the end of March, yet it’s a measure of Sheikh Mohammed and his team that, at times like this, they have the grace to think of the origins of these horses. Sheikh Mohammed was quick to recall that all of Imbongi and Art of War, Galant Gagnant and Umngazi were graduates of the Emperor’s Palace Ready To Run Sale, and he wished us long life with the sale henceforward. In his view, this is a prime source of top thoroughbreds, and he was quick to add the hope that this year’s crop would be comparable with the class of 2007. No doubt, music to the ears of Bob Yearham and his merry team at Emperors Palace.

It seems Imbongi is not the only one who might’ve booked his ticket for World Cup night. It’s possible little Art Of War gets his moment in the sunshine (or should we say the moonshine, too) in the Dubai World Cup itself.

No doubt, the likes of Barry Clements, Rodney Thorpe and Roger Zeeman had little inkling that the matings of their respective mares to Russian Revival and Kahal that year, would yield results which would one day have their names in lights at the richest racing spectacle on earth.

DUBAI: NO MORE REHEARSALS

imbongi and kevin sheaImbongi
(DRC/PPC)

Last night brought down the curtain on the last of the big trials for racing’s richest meeting, the Dubai World Cup. There were many South African-connected steeds on display, and Mike de Kock will count it as a good day at the office.

From a Summerhill perspective, we had to be happy with the proceedings, though Imbongi must’ve been among the unlucky ones on the night. In what looked to be the “deep end” for Art Of War, in a race in which the famous likes of Dubai Millennium, Street Cry, and Electrocutionist have honed their claws for the big day, this little chap was asked to do it the hard way, out in front, while his illustrious stable companion, Asiatic Boy, bided his time three wide, out of the kick-back. Let’s not forget, Asiatic Boy was second in the World Cup itself a year ago to no less a horse than the world champion, Curlin, so having your name mentioned on the same card was something in itself of an honour for this unusually small son of Kahal. Yet he gutsed it out from the start, led through the bend, and kicked on courageously in the strait, hanging on grimly for third in the dying stages, while Asiatic Boy will be spot on for another crack at $6 million loot at the end of March.

Imbongi was in a tough one here, including grand Japanese filly, Vodka, who’s just been voted Horse Of The Year in her homeland. Also in the field were last year’s Duty Free hero, Jay Peg, (subsequent winner of the Singapore Airlines Cup Gr.1 as well); the Cape Derby and Daily News 2000 ace, Russian Sage, Summer Cup winner, Strategic News, and any number of international Group One and Two competitors.

The big worry for those of us who know Imbongi, was whether or not he would see out the 1770 m of the race, as this was relatively new territory for him, so it was to his great credit that in the last 150 metres of the race, there was nothing travelling better than he was. Pocketed in (like Vodka was), Imbongi saw daylight for the first time when the race was all but over, but once Kevin Shea had extracted him, he flew to get up for the minor money, while another stride or two might’ve put him in second.

Mike de Kock was more than frustrated after the event, proclaiming to Mick Goss that he thought the horse should’ve won with something to spare, if he’d got a run. It’s all the better news that he came out of the race well, and according to Mike, he’s hopeful he’ll qualify for a crack at the $5 million Dubai Duty Free over the course and distance, on the big night.