PETER SARGENT was in the winner’s enclosure when Mike de Kock saddled his first winner on 21 December 1989, and is still a stalwart owner – 23 years and way over 2000 winners later!
That winner was Evening Mist, who launched De Kock’s sparkling career with a victory over 18 rivals in the Listed Gerald Rosenberg Handicap at Newmarket.
Evening Mist, owned in partnership by Sargent, the late Colin Dunn, Peter Muller and Ian Pryor, went on to win the Grade 1 Administrator’s Cup from Singing Boy and finished fourth in the then Rothmans Durban July, beaten under a length by Right Prerogative, Al Mufti and Rakeen.
PETER and Sue Sargent (middle), with Wolf Whistle (Weichong Marwing, groom Pat Ndlebe), and Mike de Kock, February 2005, Nad Al Sheba, Dubai. (Andrew Watkins).
“I was bitten by the racing bug when owning a filly, Summer Tide, in partnership with the late trainer Ricky Howard-Ginsberg. She never won a race, but then I invested in a quarter-share of Evening Mist. She was picked by the late Basil Benjamin at the Pietermaritzburg sale and the rest is history.’’
When Ginsberg died in November 1989, 80 horses were left in his assistant trainer De Kock’s care, and as De Kock recounts in his book, Horse Chestnut: The Story Of A Legend, Sargent was the one who inspired him to put his head down and accept the responsibility.
“All Ricky’s owners had a meeting and we decided to give Mike a chance, as he had impressed all of us as an assistant trainer. Ricky’s stable turned around when Mike joined him. Only one disgruntled owner disagreed and left the meeting. Good luck to him!’’
After Evening Mist, Sargent owned a share of Colonial Boy, who he remembers giving the young apprentice Weichong Marwing his 100th winner.
“There were a few others after that including the smart filly Alamanda, but none as great as Wolf Whistle, who won our second Summer Cup under Kevin Shea in 2004. That must rate as one of the greatest races in the history of South African racing, as Wolf Whistle and Yard-Arm went head-to-head with the master jockeys Shea and Strydom elbowing each other over the last 100m and the Wolf getting up by a short head.’’
He adds: “We won that race three times! Once when he crossed the line, twice when the commentator announced the objection and we thought we had won, and the third time when the objection was over-ruled.’’
Another highlight was Wolf Whistle’s incredible win in the $US200 000 Al Rashidiya over 1777m at Nad Al Sheba in Dubai in 2005.
“The big Wolf made us proud so many times, and today he is deservedly the lead horse at Nad Al Sheba.’’
Sargent has been involved in the Rich Man’s Gold Syndicate (Grade 1 winner Kildonan,etc) and he says: “I am in the game for life and would like to win another Summer Cup!’’
Sargent is a highly successful businessman in the chemical industry with Ian Pryor, his partner for 30 years.
See also: A tribute to Wolf Whistle.