MIKE de Kock dismissed Link Man’s run in the Grade 1 Golden Horse Casino Sprint, in which he faded tamely to finish last, as “just one of those runs” and all signs point to the Grade 1 winning Toreador colt putting up a better performance in the Grade 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge over 1 600m at Clairwood on Saturday, reports DAVID THISELTON.
De Kock added that Welwitschia’s run in the Grade 2 Tibouchina over 1 450m would be her last race of the season, while Silver Flyer “will not be 100% fit” for his first run after gelding and Solo Traveller was “doing well” ahead of the Grade 3 Cup Trial over 1 800m.
“Link Man pulled up one hundred percent sound (after the Golden Horse) and has been working very well since,” said De Kock. The Golden Horse was Link Man’s first outing since his last place finish in the Grade 1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate where he was reported to have broken a blood vessel (epistaxis), which earned him an automatic three month suspension. Link Man showed good pace in the Golden Horse but did not settle perfectly, while the ground on the day made the 1 200m a tough test.
He could bounce back on Saturday as he is likely to not be as fresh and he might appreciate faster ground. The Joey Ramsden-trained Variety Club looks to be a world class miler who will be very hard to beat, but Link Man proved when winning the Grade 2 Gauteng Guineas over the tough Turffontein 1600m last year as a three-year-old that he stays a mile and his pole position draw will help too.
Furthermore, De Kock has proved more than ever this season that none of his horses can ever be written off in feature races, winning the Gauteng Guineas with the 100-1 shot Golden Chateau and the Grade 1 Woolavington 2000 on Saturday with the 50-1 shot Viva Maria. Anthony Delpech keeps the ride on Link Man. De Kock said that Welwitschia had been going for long enough this season and now deserved a rest. This will be her ninth start of the season.
He said that the 1 450m was “not her best trip”, although pointing out that she had won twice over this distance before on the Turffontein inside track and once over 1 600m. De Kock admitted after her brilliant win in the Grade 2 Camellia Stakes over 1 160m at Turffontein that he had been too stubborn in trying to make her stay further and that she was probably a sprinter.
However, she showed in her style there, in which she was held up and relaxed at the back before producing a devastating finish, that she is not an out and out sprinter and it would be no surprise to see her finishing strongly from her pole position draw to win this competitive event. Welwitschia’s stablemate Checcetti won the Grade 3 Jacaranda Handicap over 1800m in her penultimate start and Saturday’s Tibouchina might be a touch sharp for her.
Welwitschia met Checcetti over this distance on the inside track at Turffotein in January and beat her hard held by nearly two lengths despite being slow away and a bit keen in the running. Welwitschia’s regular rider Delpech stays aboard on Saturday, while Derreck David gets the ride on Checcetti. De Kock runs the Grade 2 Dingaans (1 600m) winning three-year-old Silver Flyer and last season’s dual Guineas winner Solo Traveller in the Grade 3 Cup Trial over 1 800m. Silver Flyer’s reluctance to work in the mornings have been well documented, so he will be an interesting horse to follow now that he has been gelded.
His talent is undoubted but De Kock said, “He won’t be 100% fit for his first start after gelding.” Solo Traveller was switched out in the straight from well back in the field in the Betting World 1900 in his last start and ran on very well to finish just under two lengths behind Beach Beauty from whom he received only 0,5kg. He was finishing strongest of all and is fairly well drawn in seven.
Anthony Delpech, who rode Solo Traveller in the 1900, will ride Silver Flyer, while Kevin Shea will ride Solo Traveller.
Headline photo: Top filly, Welwitschia.