MIKE de Kock has no less than eight runners entered in the Grade 1 L Jaffee Empress Club Stakes for fillies and mares to be run over 1600m at Turffontein on Tuesday 12 April.
Among his octet of runners is Triple Tiara-seeking Igugu, but she appears unlikely to take her place in the final line-up as he mission is probably the Grade 2 SA Oaks over 2450m on 30 April. However, De Kock has nominated his other star three-year-old, Welwitschia, for this R1-million race to be run at a night meeting on the Turffontein standside track.
Welwitschia. (JC Photos).
She ran third to Igugu in the Grade 2 Gauteng Fillies Guineas but later destroyed a field in Progress Plate over 1600m on the inside track. Bred in the UK, the daughter of Oasis Dream is six months younger than her southern hemisphere rivals but is improving with every outing.
The other De Kock runners include Berry Blaze, who finished third to Igugu in Saturday’s Grade 1 SA Fillies Classic, Charity Mile champion Alderry, Jacaranda Handicap winner Fisani, Checcetti, Sansui Summer Cup winner Flirtation and Headstrong.
However, on Saturday there suddenly appeared a new kid on the block in the form of Dancewiththedevil. St John Gray’s four-year-old daughter of Modus Vivendi decimated a strong field of colts and older horses at weight for age to win the Grade 1 HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes by 5.50 lengths. Had that been a handicap she would have received some 10kg from runner-up Earl Of Surrey but under the conditions of the race, only got 2.5kg from the runner-up.
As a result of that win Dancewiththedevil has gone from a 95 merit rating to a 111. However, the manner in which she disposed of that field will make her a lively contender for this race over the same track and trip. She is beautifully drawn at No 2 and looks a talented prospect. �
Also among the nominations are Paul Lafferty’s Goat, Queen’s Bay, who ran second to Mother Russia last year, from the Mike Azzie yard, and Charles Laird’s top three-year-old Hollywoodboulevard.
Supplementary entries close on Friday after which the weights will be announced. Final declarations take place at 10am on Wednesday 6 April.
L JAFFEE EMPRESS CLUB STAKES (Grade 1)(Fillies and Mares) R1-million 1600m
8 ALDERRY (M F De Kock)
17 ALL AFIRE (A G Laird)
13 BEDLOE’S ISLAND (S G Tarry)
4 BERRY BLAZE (M F De Kock)
7 CHECCETTI (M F De Kock)
2 DANCEWITHTHEDEVIL (S J Gray)
14 FISANI (M F De Kock)
6 FLIRTATION (M F De Kock)
6 GOAT (P V Lafferty)
3 HEADSTRONG (M F De Kock)
12 HOLLYWOODBOULEVARD (C Laird)
11 IGUGU (M F De Kock)
5 JO PIPER (D R Drier)
9 MISS TURBULENCE (W H Marwing)
15 QUEEN MIRA (G V Woodruff)
1 QUEEN’S BAY (M G Azzie)
16 RECONCILE (J Vos)
10 WELWITSCHIA (M F De Kock)