MIKE de Kock has four strong contenders for the Ladbrokes Gold Cup on Saturday, Vettel, Gorongosa, Ilsanpietro, and Captain’s Wild (photo), and they are difficult to separate, although regular stable jockeys Anthony Delpech and Kevin Shea are both happy with the mounts they have been allocated.
Delpech will be aboard Gorongosa, who is the third favourite at 11-2, and was pleased with her most recent workout.
“She stays well and has done well,” he said. “I have won on her before and am very happy to be on her.”
De Kock’s Summerveld assistant trainer Nathan Kotzen said, “Gorongosa was a bit disappointing in the July, but she was bumped around a bit. She has never been a good work horse, but she has come out of the July well and is doing well.”
The Irish-bred Montjeu mare has reeled off ten victories in her 14 starts and is particularly effective over staying trips, winning seven times over 2400m and further, including twice over the 3200m distance of the Gold Cup.
She is drawn in barrier 12, but settles well so this should not be much of a disadvantage.
She has a fine turn of foot, so should also handle the tight Greyville track with its short run in.
Gorongosa will carry 56.5kg off her 101 merit rating.
Shea rides Ilsanpietro, who was favourite for the race last year but this year is a 10-1 shot.
The five-year-old Brazilian-bred gelding by Mark Of Esteem has a tough draw of 15.
Shea said, “I am very happy to be on him. The draw is tough as he is a tricky horse. If you chase him he pulls, but you don’t want to be too far back either. I will need a fast pace.”
Ilsanpietro has a touch of class about him and loves this sort of trip.
Last year he finished a close fourth, despite being drawn 17, and he was carrying only 0,5kg less than this year.
Kotzen said that the three-year-old Argentinian-bred Vettel had pulled up very well from his good Vodacom Durban July effort, in which he stayed on well from a handy position for a 1,4 length sixth.
He added that he had been working well.
Vettel is the second favourite at 5-1 and will be ridden by the ruling Champion Jockey Anton Marcus.
His two most impressive career performances to date have come in facile wins over the tough Turffontein 2600m and over 2500m at Clairwood, so he looks likely to enjoy this trip.
He is a galloping sort so his good draw of seven should allow him to get into the handy position that best suits his style.
Furthermore the 55,5kg he carries is just 0,5kg above Marcus’ optimum riding weight and its always an ideal situation when the horse does not have to carry much deadweight.
De Kock’s other contender is the five-year-old Captain Al gelding Captain’s Wild, who looks to have enjoyed a fine preparation.
Kotzen said, “I’m sure he’ll like the trip as he always runs on late.”
Captain’s Wild’s father Captain Al was a sprint-miler, but he has thrown a few staying types including Captain Cook, who won the Grade 2 J&B Reserve Stayers over 2800m.
Furthermore Captain’s Wild’s dam, Wild Deb, who is by Esplendor, won over 2400m.
Captain’s Wild is a 12-1 shot and will be ridden by Karis Teetan from draw 18.
He can be slightly headstrong in the early stages, but Delpech, riding him in the Grade 3 Lonsdale Stirrup over 2400m on June 2, was able to tuck him in near the back from a wide draw of 13.
He has a good turn of foot and ran on strongly in the straight to finish a 0,4 length fourth to the ruling Gold Cup favourite Blake.
He was a touch unlucky in that race as there was a bit of outward movement meaning he had to veer outward at the 200m mark.
He is now 2kg better off with Blake.
Teetan rode him in his last start in the Grade 3 Schweppes 2200 on July day and from a good draw had him on the rail in a handy position in a slow run race from where he stayed on strongly for a 1,6 length fourth to the smart three-year-old Tribal Dance.
De Kock has won the Gold Cup twice with Thundering Star in 2007 and Ancestral Fore in 2010. – Gold Circle.