STAR filly Igugu scored a sensational win in Saturday’s R3 million Grade 1 Vodacom Durban July in front of a capacity crowd, giving Mike de Kock’s stable its fourth ‘July’ success in the last ten renewals of South Africa’s greatest horse race.
It was a triumph too, for Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, who owns Igugu in partnership with Andre Macdonald and also owned last year’s winner, Bold Silvano, in a partnership with Gill Thompson.
Igugu’s cucumber cool jockey, Anthony Delpech, chalked up his third July win for the stable – his fourth in total after opening his account on David Ferraris-trained Classic Flag in 1998 and winning on Grey’s Inn (2004) and Bold Silvano in 2010.
Igugu did it in style, setting the early pace herself and then easing back into second behind Happy Landing, who took up the running going into the far bend. Emerald Cove showed up in third ahead of Bravura and Big City Life.
Igugu was travelling smoothly as they approached the home turn, poised to strike, and she quickly regained the lead as they swung into the straight and went charging for home.
Delpech, as confident as they come, tapped Igugu on the shoulder and showed her some more of the stick when Doug Whyte on Pierre Jourdan moved up with a good looking run on her outside and English Garden ran on well near the rail.
“They came to within half a length of her but she gave me more. She’s a superstar, she’s the best filly I will ever ride in a race,” enthused Delpech.
Igugu kept going gamely to hold Pierre Jourdan at bay by a length, with English Garden taking third ahead of The Apache, who produced a game run in fourth.
Mike commented: “We haven’t got to the bottom of Igugu yet and I said before the race that she was probably better than her rating. Well done to the owners and my training team. They put a big effort into our July runners and we were quietly confident going into the race.”
Asked if Igugu would leave the country for a campaign in Dubai in 2011, Mike said: “I don’t know if I want to put her through the prevailing export protocol. What the world is doing to us because of African Horse Sickness is a disgrace. Our trading partners should hang their heads in shame.”
Under prevailing export conditions, Igugu would be required to spend 156 days en route to Dubai, including quarantine periods in Cape Town, Mauritius, Europe and Dubai itself.
“That’s a lot of travelling for a horse to do and factors like changing weather conditions and the risk of injury on different flights come into the reckoning, let alone the fact that she will have little or no time at all to be prepared for the 2011 Dubai Carnival,” said Mike.
Igugu, by Galileo from Zarinia (x Intikhab), was raised at Mick Goss’ Summerhill stud after being imported from Australia, and sold at the 2009 Ready To Run Sale. Summerhill also bred the second-placed Pierre Jourdan, who ran a tremendous race after suffering a serious injury early last year, a feat for which trainer Gary Alexander and his team deserve compliments.
Photo: Igugu (Delpech), wins the 2011 Durban July from Pierre Jourdan. (Gold Circle).