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“YEAR in and year out they do it!” Mike de Kock said on Thursday night in reference to South African bred runners who compete internationally. This after his latest acquisition, Light The Lights, owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and ridden by Christophe Soumillon, won the Listed Singspiel Stakes ($USD175,000) over 1800m on turf at Meydan by a neck from the free-striding favourite, Championship.
“I think after all the things our horses have achieved on the world stage, they are still under-rated,” enthused Mike, in a happy frame of mind after what he termed a “very satisfactory start to the 2017 Dubai season”.
Light The Lights left South Africa in February last year along with Noah From Goa and Mike said: “He was one of the first to arrive here and he was fit and ready, unlike some of the late arrivals we’ve seen fail here over the years in their first desert runs.
“Last year there was an early shipment of horses going to the UK and Dubai via Mauritius and at the time we decided to let a few runners ship out early. It is something we will most certainly consider doing again, looking at this result.”
Light The Lights, a five-year-old by Western Winter from Hallmark Thoroughbreds, was a R1,2-million purchase at the BSA National Yearling Sale of 2013. He franked his fourth in the 2016 J&B Met and provided a further pointer to the ability of SA-bred Smart Call, who beat him by 4.75-lengths and still has her own future abroad.
Mike didn’t mention what the long-term plan would be for Light The Lights, but the Gr1 Dubai Turf could be a suitable race if he makes further improvement during the Carnival.
The other De Kock runners all showed up and looked well, and all will improve for these outings.
Mike’s individual comments were:
Saltarin Dubai (beaten 12.25-lengths on is 1900m dirt debut)
“He suffered some kick-back here and needed the run, he is better than this. He raced on dirt in Argentina where the surface is different, there isn’t as much kickback. I’d like to switch him to turf to see how he goes, I think he may surprise us.”
Lindo Amor (beaten 2 lengths in the Gr2 Al Maktoum Challenge over 1600m on dirt, Leg 1)
“He got done at the start, from both sides, and sat in the kickback. He ran a very courageous race in good company, tried hard every step of the way and will enjoy a bit further too. We are impressed, Lindo Amor is one to be watched.”
Sanshaawes (beaten 5 lengths in the Singspiel Stakes, 1800m on turf)
“Gave of his best as expected and earned another stake in fourth, we have another race planned for him next week, he loves it.”
Ertijaal (beaten 5,50-lengths in the Singspiel Stakes, 1800m on turf)
He had his first run in blinkers and settled, he needed it but stayed on nicely. He looks like he is ready for more ground, he ran well and will improve.”
Banaadeer (beaten 3 lengths in a 1400m handicap on turf)
“Banaadeer will improve from this run, he was up there all the way and ran well, he was on their heels and remains a horse I think can pick up a race at the Carnival.”
Anaerobio (beaten 3.75-lengths in a 1400m handicap on turf)
“What a run from the old-timer, he got going late from the back and stormed up. He may race again next week and who knows, we may win another race with him. He’s a game stalwart of the stable.”
Mastermind (beaten 4 lengths in a 1400m handicap on turf)
“Mastermind ran a decent race too, better than expected and could be finding his feet again.”
Whistle Stop (beaten 5 lengths in a 1400m handicap on turf)
“He’s a troublesome horse, as we know, so this was pretty impressive. He ran a good race over a trip too short, staying on well and will be competitive over further if he keeps this up.”
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IT makes logical sense that horses that can win over 3200m are very fit, but what about their jockeys?
Apprentice Callan Murray had to work hard in Saturday’s Lanzerac Le General Kenilworth Cup, a listed event over 3200m in which his mount, Smart Mart, had to be kept in touch throughout to win a battle of tactics in a field of six stayers in which every runner had a chance of sorts.
The gallop changed from slow to slower and then a bit faster as the respective riders tried to outwit each other for most of the long and gruelling journey.
Smart Mart (inside) earned his keep with a workmanlike win, and jock Callan Murray was thanking his stars for being fit and well himself in a tough race that required persistent, hard race-riding !
It was going a but ding-dong up front as they raced int0 the home bed, but Callan got Smart Mart into a narrow lead with 300m to run. They were headed by challenger Three Balloons with just 100m left to the line, but he kept driving vigorously and Smart Back edged back again to get the verdict close home.
The winner is a five-year-old by Mambo in Seattle, bred by Moutonshoek and owned by Ferdi and Liz Ladeira, Gerald Sadlier, Chris Gerber and a group of veterinarians including Drs Bennie van der Merwe and Terry Casey.
“We thought that this was an ideal race for Smart Mart so we supplemented him into it,” said Mike de Kock. “”Well done to all involved.”
He spoke about Al Fahad, who finished fifth in the Gr2 Selangor Cup over 1600m: “I think we’ll take the good from this run. Al Fahad was green and unsettled around the left-handed bend. He lost his way, ran in snatches. It looked like he was fading out and then he stayed on well again late.
“This was a field of good quality and the 1600m looks on the short side for Al Fahad now, he needs further. I’m bringing him back to Johannesburg and give him a break. He’s a good horse, he will be back.”