THE De Kock stable walked off with both the Grade 2 Guineas and the Listed Aquanaut Handicap at Turffontein on Saturday.
Igugu emerged as a serious Triple Tiara contender with a sparkling victory over Hollywoodboulevard in the Gauteng Fillies Guineas. Link Man will be joining her for a campaign in Dubai after his win in the colts equivalent and Il Sanpietro completed a hat-trick of staying features with another game effort.
Igugu was sent about her business at the 400m-mark by jockey Anthony Delpech. She was in full, powerful stride and held an unassailable lead fully 350m from the line. (See Video Feature).
Mike commented: “We’ve never made a secret of Igugu’s ability but I didn’t think she would win this well. She is very talented and still improving and she’ll be heading for Dubai at the end of the South African season.”
Igugu: SA Triple Tiara candidate.
A share of Igugu was sold to Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum late last year – he part-owns the daughter of Galileo with Andre and Joyce MacDonald. Mike said: “This was a truly worthwhile deal for buyer and seller. We haven’t made up our minds about running her in the Oaks, but yes, Igugu is a big candidate for the SA Triple Tiara.”
The SA Triple Crown will go without a winner for another year, because Link Man is not seen as a Derby contender, which rules out his participation in the third leg of the coveted series.
He may well take his place in the second leg, the SA Classic over 1800m. Mike opined: “On the way he won the Guineas we’ll probably take him to the second leg. He didn’t stop, he kept going strongly to hold off Kavanagh.”
Mike paid a compliment to trainer Denis Drier, who’d taught Link Man the ropes and won the Grade 1 Gold Medallion with him in 2010. “Denis recommended that Link Man be sent to my stable with a view to an overseas campaign. He has always been supportive and forward-thinking and has passed on solid, talented horses.”
Accolades are also due to Larry Nestadt, who bred Link Man from his and Greg Blank’s own stallion Toreador and also owns his dam, Western Smoke, a mare from the immediate family of North By Northwest, another of the Tawny Syndicate’s erstwhile stars. Link Man’s part-owners are Blank and Gary Burgh, who were both hugely excited before and after the Guineas.
Mike said: “I’ve said from the day he went to stud that Toreador would make a successful stallion and good luck to George and Philip Kahan, who look after him so well at The Alchemy Stud.”
Link Man was raised by Duncan Barry at Riverton Stud.
Guineas runner-up Kavanagh will definitely not contest the remaining legs of the Triple Crown series and Mike explained: “Kavanagh is a brilliant horse, but he‘s stretched at a mile, even with blinkers on. We’ll be planning other options for him.”
Perana, out of his ground after a poor start and beaten six lengths into seventh, is considered a big contender for the SA Classic and the SA Derby.
Mike wasn’t disappointed at all: “Perana had it all to do after his slow start. He ran on nicely and was doing his best work late, he’s a top horse and will be a factor in the classics that lie ahead.”
Il Sanpietro (JP van der Merwe, red cap): A hat-trick of staying features.
Il Sanpietro scored his fifth win from only 17 starts for Paulo Ceasar’s Fazenda Mondesir International of Brazil. The son Mark Of Esteem gelding was considered a margin short of his best, which his supporters will find most encouraging for his next engagement.
Il Sanpietro was again well handled by apprentice JP van der Merwe, who has won three of four starts on his back (all feature events), with a second place in the other.
Headline photo: Link Man wins the Grade 2 Gauteng Guineas under another good ride from Anthony Delpech.
Photos supplied by JC Photos.