RACING fans love to follow “boom” horses and three-year-old filly Igugu had a huge amount of hype around her leading into Saturday’s R1,5 million Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup over 1400m at Turffontein.
That Igugu already has a good reputation and a measure of popularity would have made her defeat at the hooves of Hollywoodboulevard even more disappointing for the punters who had supported her.
Mike de Kock, however, took heart from what was by all accounts an excellent second place by the daughter of Galileo to the other Australian-bred import in the race.
He pointed out that the event was marred by problems at the start. There was a long delay due to two runners having to be reshod and an ill-disciplined horse in the pens that unsettled Checcetti. She reared up, dislodged her jockey, bumped open her gates and bolted the course .
If that wasn’t enough, Igugu was cramped for galloping room in a tightly bunched field and had to ease back a margin just before racing into the bend.
The replay also shows that with 450m to run, Danehill Darling attempts to race into a gap and carries a tiring Squadron off a straight course and menacingly close to Igugu at the moment jockey Randall Simons starts his run. In a split second Igugu loses just a little of her momentum, enough however to allow Hollywoodboulevard to sneak up from just behind her and along the far side rail under a well-timed ride from Willy Figueroa.
Mike said: “There was nothing wrong with Randall’s ride, the race just didn’t pan out the way we’d planned. But the winner is a nice filly and she beat us fair and square, that’s how racing goes and my congratulations go the connections.”
He added that Igugu is clearly in need of more ground. She tried her best to get on to terms with Figueroa’s nippy mount and while just a length adrift in the end, the line was always going to come too soon.
In reference to the incidents at the start, Mike said: “This is really getting out of hand. There have been many calls over the last several years for the stipendiary stewards to tighten their control over all procedural, technical and organisational aspects at the starting stalls around the country, but things are just getting worse. The sport of racing was on show, last Saturday, and what happened before the Ready To Run Cup dampened the enthusiasm on an otherwise enjoyable and glamorous day.
“Strict action needs to be taken against trainers who can’t school their horses to behave at the start and more trained staff will have to be employed at the pens. All we actually need for this to happen is a willingness from management to make a difference, to take matters in hand. This has not yet happened.
“Trainers should be working closely with the starter and his team to identify problematic horses and to school them properly before they are entered for a race. This can only be of benefit to racing. We’re all in this industry together and we need to make it work, it is up to us.”