THE party’s over and Mike de Kock, back in South Africa following a hugely successful Dubai World Cup Carnival and Dubai World Cup race meeting, was all business on Tuesday and he summed up the last three months with an understated: “All went well. I can’t complain at all. And that my two winners on Saturday night were SA-breds makes it sweeter.’’
On several occasions over the Easter weekend De Kock and his Dubai team joined up with the South African patriots who had travelled to Dubai to watch his warriors do battle on the big night, thoroughly enjoying the camaraderie. He had much to celebrate even before Dubai World Cup night because he finished second in the trainers’ standings for the Dubai World Cup Carnival 2013 with stake earnings of $1.9 million behind Godolphin’s Saeed bin Suroor. The South African saddled 13 winners at the Carnival, with four at feature-race level – The Apache in the Group 2 Al Rashidiya, Soft Falling Rain in the G3 UAE 2000 Guineas, Mushreq in the G2 Al Fahidi Fort and Shea Shea in the Listed Meydan Sprint.
On Saturday night at the Dubai World Cup fixture, he added another two to his tally for 2013 with Shea Shea, a Klawervlei Stud-bred son of National Emblem, in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint and Soft Falling Rain (headline photo), bred by Highlands Farms Stud and by National Assembly, in the G2 Godolphin Mile. He shared training honours on the night with Irishman Aidan O’Brien and Bin Suroor and remained the most successful non-local trainer in Dubai World Cup history.
Both Soft Falling Rain and Shea Shea are now headed to England, along with high-strung Giant’s Causeway filly Emotif (ran in the UAE Derby) and Treasure Beach (eighth in the Dubai World Cup).
Shea Shea was most impressive under Christophe Soumillon (scoring his second win of the night). “That was a very confident ride,’’ admitted De Kock, “but Christophe knew what he had under him. The horse was unbelievable – there’s not much more I can say that’s not already been said.’’
He continued: “Emotif is better on turf and the Dubai World Cup just came too soon for Treasure Beach. He’s got a lot of ability and is coming on the right way.
“Soft Falling Rain has done nothing wrong and at this stage he’s given everything we’ve asked of him. We won’t know just how good he is until he takes on top horses in Europe,’’ added De Kock.
The trainer had two other horses in the Godolphin Mile, Rerouted (sixth – “a good run’’) and Master Of Hounds, who is bound for America where he will stand at stud. Five-year-old Rerouted will remain in Dubai alongside the stable’s Gold Cup runner Star Empire (finished fifth), Mushreq (10th in the Duty Free) and Zahee (sixth in the Derby) to compete during next year’s Carnival.
“Star Empire has got limitations but he should have run second,’’ said De Kock. “He had to ease off their heels twice and with a clear passage would have finished second or third. I reckon we’ll aim him at the Gold Cup next year.’’
De Kock’s next best result was The Apache’s second to Sajjhaa in the Duty Free. To a biased patriot, for a split second in the straight it looked as though The Apache and Igugu might take her measure, but that was not to be as she took over from Little Mike 200m out and won by 1.75 lengths. Igugu was fifth, 2.75 lengths behind the winner.
“Sajjhaa was impressive throughout the Carnival and was always travelling well. She always had us and confirmed the form of the Jebel Hatta,’’ said De Kock. “Both The Apache and Igugu ran very well. Igugu is coming back to her best.’’
The Apache (a Mogok five-year-old bred by Scott Bros) and Igugu are probably off to Hong Kong for the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup at Sha Tin on 28 April.
His other two Dubai World Cup campaigners, Await The Dawn (fifth in the Sheema Classic) and Kavanagh (sixth in the Golden Shaheen after being eased on the bend – “he should have finished at least a length closer to winner) could go to Singapore for the Singapore Airlines International Cup and KrisFlyer Sprint respectively on Sunday 19 May.
“The others are irrelevant. If they weren’t good enough to run on World Cup night, they are not good enough for international campaigns,’’ De Kock concluded. – Nicci Garner, Racing Express.