MIKE DE KOCK’S runners were nigh unbeatable in feature races last year and the champion trainer has a strong hand with two runners in this Saturday’s R600,000 Emerald Cup (Grade 2) over 1450m at the Vaal.
With De Kock overseas this weekend, his son Mathew will saddle Storm Crossing and Burmese Cat for Africa’s richest race on the sand and the young assistant trainer is quietly confident that they will not let the stable down.
Mathew de Kock.
“They are both very well. They’re peaking at the right time,’’ he said.
Storm Crossing, of course, finished third to Iron Curtain and Alimony in last year’s Emerald Cup and, although he is worse off at the weights with both, he has run some promising races since, while his two conquerors have battled.
Rested from May, he made his comeback in the August Stakes over 1200m at this track and ran on well from near last as the runners cornered to finish sixth, 4.25 lengths behind The Mouseketeer. He is 1kg better off with Sean Tarry’s runner and De Kock says he will strip match ready on Saturday having “needed that run badly’’.
Burmese Cat has a touch of class about him. He won feature races as a two and three-year-old, including the Highveld Sand Challenge over 1600m in April. In that race he beat Sayadaw by a length with Eastern Cobbler (third – 2kg better off), Lochlorien (5.5kg better off) and Storm Crossing (1.5kg better off) not far behind.
He lost form after that win, but showed he had benefited from a three-month layoff when only tiring late to fourth, 2.75 lengths behind Ryan’s A Lion over this course and distance recently.
“He’s also come well at the right time,’’ said De Kock. “To be honest, I can’t split them. Storm Crossing has more speed, though. If this race was over a mile, I’d like Burmese Cat better. Wherever they finish, they’ll be on top of each other.’’
Many experts will believe that Burmese Cat is the stable elect because he will be ridden by the stable’s No 1 South African rider Anthony Delpech. However, Tshwaro Appie has partnered Storm Crossing in all his races since November last year, winning three times on the son of Western Winter, and young De Kock said that “the jockey bookings are not an indication of which horse is expected to do better’’.
There are plenty of dangers in De Kock’s opinion, spearheaded by Art Wish, who has won three of his last four races including an eight-length drubbing of Enza Plan over this course and distance in July.
He sees the other dangers as Sayadaw, the Sean Tarry coupling of The Mouseketeer and Across The Ice, and reserve runner Lochlorien, if he makes it into the field.
Betting World’s betting:
7-2 THE MOUSEKETEER
4-1 ART WISH
8-1 ACROSS THE ICE
8-1 BURMESE CAT
12-1 IRON CURTAIN
12-1 STORM CROSSING
14-1 EASTERN COBBLER
14-1 QUEEN`S BAY
16-1 BOUQUET GARNI
16-1 PRIME MOVER
20-1 MINA SALAAM
40-1 COMEDY CARAVAN