MIKE de Kock’s high class mare Igugu and his “I’ve been everywhere” horse Treasure Beach (headline photo by Andrew Watkins taken at Dubai World Cup), two of the four quality international challengers for this year’s G1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup to be run on 28 April at Sha-Tin, have had remarkable journeys to Hong Kong which underline the globalisation of modern horse racing.
It’s a concept which has been well embraced by the trainer himself and the world-wide promotion of international racing, greatly developed and fostered by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, sees top-class horses now travelling as the rule rather than the exception.
Even so the stories of Igugu and Treasure Beach are exceptional. While the two other well credentialled visitors Sajjhaa and Eishi Flash have also competed abroad, their travel itineraries are modest in comparison with de Kock’s duo.
Igugu was accustomed to travel from the word go. Bred and sold in Australia, she was shipped as a yearling to South Africa where she won ten of her 12 starts including that country’s two biggest prizes, the Durban July and the J&B Met.
Igugu on the work track in Dubai earlier this week. (Steven Jell).
But that was only just the beginning for South Africa’s Horse of the Year. De Kock’s desire to see her campaign on the world stage meant an extraordinary saga began in June last year when she was shipped to Mauritius to continue the strict quarantine protocols imposed on horses leaving the African continent.
She’d had 20 days confinement in her home country before 90 days in quarantine in Mauritius and a further 30 days isolation in England before eventually travelling on to Dubai.
Igugu finished third, fifth and sixth – behind her APQEII Cup rival Sajjhaa- in Dubai but de Kock is optimistic there’s improvement to come and that’s not unrealistic given the confinement she’s had to contend with in the past ten months.
In his World Cup post-mortem, de Kock said: “Sajjhaa was impressive throughout the Carnival and was always travelling well (in the Duty Free). She always had us covered but IGUGU ran very well and hopefully now she is coming back to her best.”
Treasure Beach was also a Dubai competitor, finishing 8th behind Animal Kingdom in the World Cup on the Tapeta surface and is likely to appreciate the return to turf at Sha Tin. “The World Cup just came too soon for Treasure Beach. He’s got a lot of ability and is coming on the right way,” de Kock said.
Treasure Beach, the 2011 G1 Irish Derby winner, has since that victory competed in the following countries in this order – France, USA, France, Canada, Dubai, Hong Kong, USA, Ireland, USA and Dubai.
The five-year-old son of Galileo finished ninth behind Rulership in last year’s APQEII Cup when prepared by Aidan O’Brien. He’ll be having his third run, in Hong Kong, for de Kock who won the 2008 APQEII Cup with Archipenko who was having his fourth run for the trainer after leaving O’Brien’s yard.
De Kock also won the race in 2006 with Irridescence and prepared Greys Inn who was runner-up to Vengeance Of Rain in 2005. – hkjc.com