MIKE de Kock’s team in KZN saddled four winners at Scottsville on Sunday in what also proved to be a delightful day for Mary Slack’s Wilgerbosdrift Stud.
Wilgerbosdrift-bred newcomers Whistle Stop (Race 3, 1400m, headline photo) and Capricorn Ridge (Race 9, 1200m),won handsomely on their first racetrack appearances for Anthony Delpech, while Slack-owned Halfway to Heaven landed the Listed Off To Stud Handicap over 1800m from stablemate Checetti.
Capricorn Ridge, 2,25-length debut winner.
Rocco’s Luck (Race 6, 1800m), held off stablemate Mercurial Brave to complete the Quartet of wins and keep the stable a few hundred thousand ahead of challenger Sean Tarry in the race for the National Trainers’ Title.
“The title has not been foremost in my mind,” Mike commented on Sunday evening, “but this keeps things interesting. It will probably go down to Gold Cup Day next week and I think Sean’s hand is stronger than ours. But our Gold Cup runners are very well and we’re in for an exciting day.”
Mike was very pleased with the runs of Whistle Stop (Silvano) and Capricorn Ridge (Tiger Ridge) and said: “Whistle Stop is a smart horse with a scopy pedigree. He’s from the same female line as Horse Chestnut and should go on from here. Well done to Sheikh Hamdan, who could have another nice sort on his hands.
Rocco’s Luck holds on for apprentice Collen Story.
“Capricorn Ridge is also promising, he won well over a distance short of what will be his best. He’s a half-brother to Martial Eagle, who won the J&B Met, so there’s plenty of improvement to come. Mary’s bred two plums here.”
Halfway To Heaven ran on well to hold off Checetti in the day’s feature and Mike said: “We may keep Halfway To Heaven in training for another year, but for Checetti and Berry Blaze next week’s Gold Bracelet will be the last roll of the dice. We’ll run them both if they pull up well.”
Mike complimented apprentice Collen Story on his ride aboard Rocco’s Luck, who shaded Mercurial Brave out of first pace. “Rocco’s Luck was very well for his race on July day and today, and 4-1 was a good price. He deserved his win, but keep an eye on the second horse, he will win his races.”
Halfway To Heaven (Bernard Fayd’Herbe), post-race.