MIKE de Kock, who is set to take the National title again this season, is the only trainer in the last decade to have won the R1-million Canon Gold Cup (Grade 1) over 3200m more than once.
De Kock won the country’s premier race for stayers with Thundering Star in 2007 and Ancestral Fore last year, and has three live contenders for top honours in 2011.
Captain’s Wild: Gold Cup nomination.
The race, traditionally run on the first Saturday in August, now forms part of the programme at the final major race meeting of the season. Three other Grade 1 races will be run at the fixture, including the R700,000 Champions Cup, the R500,000 Premier’s Champion Stakes and the R500,000 Thekwini Stakes. Run in the past at Clairwood, the three races used to spearhead the season finale.
De Kock, who tops the trainers’ log with stake earnings of R20,819,376 (his runners earned a record R22,191,845 last season) and a high 18,09% winning strike rate, has won five Grade 1 races so far this season including the Sansui Summer Cup with Flirtation, the L’Ormarins Queens Plate with Mother Russia and the SA Fillies Classic, Woolavington 2000 and Vodacom Durban July with Igugu. His Grade 2 and 3 haul totals 18.
And he could well add the Gold Cup to his tally if the ratings are correct because Captain’s Wild, Ilsanpietro and Safwan are among the four top-rated horses in the list of nominations.
Brazilian-bred Ilsanpietro, named the Highveld’s Champion Stayer this season, put up a good preparatory run for this race when finishing a 1.85-length fourth behind Fort Vogue over 2200m on July day and many will fancy his chances of putting G1 score on the board.
Safwan has placed over 2600m before, although his best form has come over shorter and his best effort to date came in the Greyville 1900 when he dead-heated for first with Golden Chariot.
Captain’s Wild, who is likely to carry top weight in the Gold Cup, would be travelling over a marathon distance for the first time. Although he is by top sprinter-miler Captain Al, he has won up to 2000m and is out of an Eplendor mare who won a couple of races over 2400m. However, he is more likely to be aimed at the R700,000 Champions Cup, for which he is also nominated.
The other Gold Cup nominee rated in triple figures is Dean Kannemeyer-trained In Writing for whom the 3200m distance will hold no fears. He, however, has not won a race since November 2009 and a subsequent 12-month rest.
Captain’s Wild is not the only highly rated runner in what could be a strong renewal of the Champions Cup. Another 11 of the 21 entries are rated 100-plus, including The Apache and Bulsara, who finished fourth and fifth in the Durban July, Il Saggiatore, who was given the KZN Derby in the boardroom, Run For It, who finished third in the Met, and SA Guineas winner Solo Traveller.
G1 and 2 feature race nominations:
CANON GOLD CUP (Grade 1, Merit Rated Handicap) R1,000,000 3200m
ANOTHER GIANT (M W Bass); ASLAN (S G Tarry); BLAKE (D Kannemeyer); CAPTAIN’S WILD (M F De Kock); DANCE AT DAYLIGHT (D R Drier); DOLOMITE (K Naidoo); GOLDEN PARACHUTE (M W Bass); GREY COSSACK (C J Burger); HAWK’S EYE (J Ramsden); ILSANPIETRO (M F De Kock); IN WRITING (D Kannemeyer); JEPPE’S REEF (M W Bass); KEY CASTLE (JVA Strydom); KNIGHT TO REMEMBER (D C Howells); MEMBRADO (S G Tarry); POWER LORD (D Rahilly); PREDESTINATION (J Ramsden); RAPID FLOW (P V Lafferty); SAFWAN (M F De Kock); SALUKI (S H Page); TWO STRIKES (S H Page); WHAT’S GOING ON (C Scott).
CHAMPIONS CUP (Grade 1) R700,000 1800m
BROWN PENNY (M W Bass); BULSARA (G H Van Zyl); BUY AND SELL (S G Tarry); CAPTAIN’S SECRET (M W Bass); CASK (S H Page); DANCE AT DAYLIGHT (D R Drier); DANCE WITH MIKEY (C Scott); GOLD ONYX (S G Tarry); IL SAGGIATORE (J Ramsden); IMPERIOUS STAR (G S Kotzen); LION IN WINTER (J Ramsden); QUEEN’S BAY (M G Azzie); RECONCILE (G S Kotzen); RUN FOR IT (J S Snaith); SAGE THRONE (C Scott); SALUKI (S H Page); SOLO TRAVELLER (J S Snaith); SUPER STORM (M W Bass); THE APACHE (G H Van Zyl); THE MOUSEKETEER (S G Tarry); ZORBA’S TALE (M N Houdalakis).
PREMIER’S CHAMPION STAKES (Grade 1, 2 year-olds) R500,000 1600m
ASTRO NEWS (P F Matchett); BARACAH (S G Tarry); BROOKS-CLUB (G H Van Zyl); CHILL FACTOR (M F De Kock); DICHOTOMA (K Naidoo); FIGHTING WARRIOR (I S Moore); GIMMETHEGREENLIGHT (J S Snaith); GINEPRI (M F De Kock); HARD ROCK (D Visser); KRUGER RAND (D R Drier); LIQUID MOTION (D Visser); MASTER PLAN (G S Kotzen); MUSHREQ (M F De Kock); NATIONAL ROAD (S G Tarry); PILOT MIKE (G R Puller); POTALA PALACE (M G Azzie); RANSOM OF CHOICE (C Laird); RIO CARNIVAL (C Laird); STAR DANCE (P F Matchett); SURRUPTITIOUS (I S Moore); SWORD OF TRUTH (C Spies); TENNESSEE STRATEGY (C Laird); THE LAST SAMURAI (G H Van Zyl).
THEKWINI STAKES (Grade 1, 2 year-old Fillies) R500,000 1600m
AMANEE (M F De Kock); AWESOME BEAUTY (G H Van Zyl); BESMA (M F De Kock); BLOW ME A KISS (P A Peter); BRORA (M F De Kock); EXTRA ZERO (S G Tarry); FELIX THE CAT (D C Howells); FLO RIDER (D S Bosch); GODDESS ATHENA (M N Houdalakis); GUSTING (J S Snaith); HIDDEN BEAUTY (P F Matchett); ILHA BELA (M F De Kock); JETER (C Laird); MADAME ROONEY (C J Burger); MALAGA-BELLE (D Zaki); MISS IPANEMA (D R Drier); OCEAN’S SWIFT (J S Snaith); PSALTERY (N L Bruss); REED DANCE (G R Puller); ROCZINTA (J S Snaith); SHADOWS IN THE SUN (G H Van Zyl); SLINKY THE CAT (G H Van Zyl); STAR FACTOR (P A Peter); STERN LINE (C Laird); TO GO WEST (G H Van Zyl); WINGED FOOT (M F De Kock).
GOLD BRACELET (Grade 2, Fillies & Mares, Weight-For-Age) R200,000 2000m
ALL AFIRE (A G Laird); ATLANTIC OAK (M F De Kock); BEACH BEAUTY (D R Drier); CROC VALLEY (M W Bass); EMERALD COVE (J S Snaith); ENCHANTED KINGDOM (P A Peter); FISANI (M F De Kock); GRAIL MAIDEN (J Ramsden); IMPERIOUS STAR (G S Kotzen); IRELAND (G H Van Zyl); LADY MAGPIE (A D Gordon); LAS RAMBLAS (J M Goodman); PRINCESS OF LIGHT (G V Woodruff); QUEEN’S BAY (M G Azzie); QUICK SINGLE (G V Woodruff); RECONCILE (G S Kotzen); ROSIE TIBB (Y Govender); SALTWATER GIRL (P V Lafferty); SECRET BABE (D R Drier); SUNNINGDALE (P V Lafferty).