The story of a ‘Big Boat’

HERE is the story (so far…) of Albacore (IRE), a horse the stable has nicknamed, “The QEII”, because he’s slow, like a Big Boat!

Mike de Kock relates: “Owner Michael Javett wanted a two-year-old to compete in the UK’s juvenile features so we went to the Tattersalls Sale and found Albacore (IRE) a beautiful colt by Fastnet Rock from Starfish, by Galileo. Mary Slack joined as Javett’s partner.”

Albacore was taken to a pre-trainer but to the dismay of the connections he soon reported: “Albacore is on the slow side, he won’t run as a two-year-old”.

The colt was taken out of pre-training and shipped to South Africa, where quite a shock awaited Mike, Mathew and the team at Randjesfontein.

“Slow is not the word! Albacore couldn’t keep up with horses going in a common canter. He is one of the slowest horses ever to be booked into our stable complex. We named him “QE11” (big, clumsy and very slow) and I reported to the owners that we had problem on our hands.

Albacore: Sets his own sails.

Albacore: Sets his own sails.


“Albacore had a niggle or two, so at one stage we considered finding him a good home, a riding school maybe (or a dry dock?) but we do have a policy of giving our unraced horses at least one run before we make a decision so we hesitantly entered him for a Maiden Plate over 1600m at the Vaal on 29 March.

“We had a well-fancied runner in the race called Viburnum, who was moving well into touch and coming to win the race at the 400m-mark. As expected, Albacore was last. However, he suddenly starting making up ground near the outside rail and ran on strongly. He challenged for top honours late, he got into third, a diminishing length behind Viburnum. I almost fell of my chair at home watching the race in sheer surprise!”

Back home at the working track, nobody could believe it. The grooms and the team were baffled, their mouths were open. Albacore was still slow, way behind others.

“We put Albacore in another Maiden Plate over a mile at Turffontein on Tuesday evening, under lights, drawn 14-14 first time on the bend, not sure what to expect. We reckoned that first run must have been a total flash in the pan.

“Again, our eyes widened as we saw Albacore storm up around horses in the centre of the track, this time winning as he liked.  He put four lengths between himself and the second horse and jockey Ryan Munger reported that “there was something good there, he gave me something!”

Mike said that still, there seems to be no reason to get carried away. Albacore shows nothing in work, he reserves everything he has for the track. He is purely a race day runner, that’s the way it is!

“I’ve got to thank Mr Javett and Mary. They are patient and experienced owners. Others would have given up with him ages ago. He’s now made his debut and won at four and who knows, perhaps there is more to come. Albacore hides his ability and comes to light in a race. We won’t really know until we’ve tested him against stronger horses. In a race, of course!”

For now, Albacore remains true to his original name of QEII. Big and slow. But there are other definitions for the QEII: Luxurious, powerful, in a class of its own. Let’s see what happens!