MIKE de Kock is pleased with the preparation of his four feature contenders for Scottsville’s big Golden Horse Casino Sprint Raceday on Saturday.
Three-year-old Tiger Ridge colt Kavanagh runs in the Grade 1 Golden Horse Casino Sprint over 1200m off a merit rating of 106 which earns him 56kg compared to the 59,5kg of the highest rated horse, the brilliant Mike Bass-trained three-year-old What A Winter.
Kavanagh has gained a reputation as a feature race bridesmaid as on more than one occasion he has been caught in the final stages having earlier moved into the lead looking all over the winner.
However, this will be the first time he has raced over this distance since finishing a 2,50-length fourth to Link Man in last year’s Grade 1 Gold Reef Resorts Medallion (this year named the Tsogo Sun Maverick Medallion for the first time).
De Kock said on Wednesday, “His work has been awesome, as usual.”
Asked whether he lacked courage he replied, “It is a bit confusing. Again in the Drill Hall I thought he was in a position to win but failed to go through with it. But I don’t think it’s a courage thing. Maybe I have just been running him over the wrong trip and maybe he’s a sprinter.”
De Kock won this race in 2007 with the three-year-old Kildonan, who was returning from a six month layoff at the time. Interestingly Kildonan, like Kavanagh, had won the Grade 3 Graham Beck Stakes over 1400m that season.
Kavanagh opened 7-1 in Betting World’s ante-post book but has already drifted to 10-1.
In the SA Fillies Sprint over 1200m, de Kock runs his star Irish-bred sprint-miler Gibraltar Blue, who has won five of her eight South African starts.
She finished a 0,25 length second in this race last year as a three-year-old when carrying a 1kg Northern Hemisphere-bred allowance.
She has been priced up 22-10 second favourite by Betting World in the ante-post book, while the horse she beat by 1,25 lengths last year, Val De Ra, is the 18-10 favourite.
On paper she will have a tough task to beat Val De Ra on this season’s form as she was beaten 2,35 lengths by What A Winter in the weight-for-age Grade 1 Betting World Cape Flying Championship over 1000m in January, while Val De Ra beat What A Winter by 1,25 lengths in the Grade 1 Computaform Sprint over 1000m last month.
Gibraltar Blue hasn’t run since finishing a 0,75 length third in the Grade 1 Klawervlei Majorca Stakes over 1600m on J&B Met day behind another SA Fillies Sprint contender, the Mike Bass-trained Covenant, who is priced up 7-2.
De Kock said, “She had no problems, I just gave her a rest. Her work has been very good. I have elected to run her fresh because of the way she won over 1000m at Turffontein last November when running fresh.”
She showed high cruising speed that day in the Listed Gardenia Stakes before bursting away to an impressive 4,25 length victory despite carrying 63,5kg.
De Kock added, “Val De Ra has improved since last year, but I think it will be a very good race.”
Regarding his other runner in the race, the consistent Irish-bred sprint-miler Headstrong, who is by Pivotal, he said in bullish tone, “She’s not as good over 1200m as Gibraltar Blue but I can see her in the first four.”
De Kock has another Pivotal running on the day, the Australian-bred Amanee, who contests the Grade 1 Allan Robertson over 1200m for two-year-old fillies.
She was backed to odds-on favourite on her debut in the Grade 2 SA Fillies Nursery over 1160m at Turffontein last month, but was beaten seven lengths, and she then won her maiden over the same course and distance on May 10, albeit narrowly at odds of 1-6.
De Kock said, “She is high class but we will only see the best of her over a mile and beyond. I would say that finishing third or fourth here would be very good for her and will put her in good stead for the Grade 1s over further at Greyville in July.” – Gold Circle.
Photo: Gibraltar Blue (white silks). – JC Photos.