MIKE de Kock won’t be giving up his grip on the National Trainer’s Championship easily and will be well represented at the Super Saturday Racemeeting at Greyville this weekend despite a lot of his best horses now being in quarantine in the first leg of their journey overseas.
De Kock has two runners in the Grade 1 Gold Cup over 3200m, the three-year-old Patriotic Rebel and the four-year-old Canterbury Tale (headline photo).
The yard first won this race with Thundering Star in 2007 and won it for a second time with Ancestral Fore in 2010.
Thundering Star had just turned four when he won, as the race used to be run on the first Saturday in August, while Ancestral Fore was a late three-year-old in 2010, when the race was switched to the month of July.
Therefore, by trends, the three-year-old gelding Patriotic Rebel should be the yard pick.
Stable jockey Anthony Delpech will be aboard Patriotic Rebel, who has to overcome a wide draw of 15.
Patriotic Rebel’s female line is packed with speed and his sire Stronghold raced mainly over a mile, so purely on pedigree there could be a stamina doubt.
However, he stayed all the way to the line when finishing second in the Grade 3 Mango 2200 on Vodacom Durban July day and responded very well to the use of first-time blinkers.
De Kock believes he will stay the Gold Cup trip and said, “He has good finishing speed, which is what you need.”
Indeed, there are similarities in his career record to Ancestral Fore’s and the finishing speed De Kock talks about was never more in evidence than with the latter horse, who won this race from a draw of 12.
Canterbury Tale proved he stays the 3200m trip when winning the Grade 2 Gold Bowl at Turffontein, although he will now be 3,5kg worse off with Seal for a 1,25 length beating.
De Kock said, “Canterbury Tale has to be covered up. You have to bury him and then he kicks on.”
The Greys Inn gelding didn’t get the ride he likes in the (Mercedes-Benz) Gold Vase over 2400m on July day.
He was caught wide before being moved up to share the lead and he duly faded away in the straight.
Raymond Danielson is reunited with the Greys Inn gelding for the first time since the Gold Bowl and he should have a fair chance of finding that necessary cover from draw nine.
However, under the compressed handicap conditions he has a tough task and he is also more exposed than his stable-mate.
De Kock didn’t feel that Celtic Legend was given the best of rides in the Grade 1 Zulu Kingdom Explorer Golden Slipper over 1400m on July day, in which she had to come from last after being brought wide into the straight.
He does think a bit of this Stronghold filly and expected “big improvement” from her in the Grade 1 Thekwini over 1600m, where she will now be ridden by stable jockey Anthony Delpech, although she does have another tricky draw of ten to overcome.
The yard also runs the Silvano filly Adhira.
She has already won twice over course and distance and De Kock’s former stable jockey Weichong Marwing rides from a great draw of four.
De Kock said, “She is an unknown and I’m not sure she’s up to a Grade 1 over a mile. The race will tell.”
De Kock runs Umgiyo in the Grade 1 Premier’s Champion Stakes over 1600m, and might also run Gone Baby Gone, provided he doesn’t keep him in today’s racemeeting at Clairwood.
Umgiyo, an Australian-bred colt by Danehill Dancer, beat a moderate field over 1400m at Scottsville in comfortable fashion on debut and Delpech will ride him from draw four.
De Kock said, “He could be anything or he could be nothing. He does show us a bit at home, but must do it at the racetrack.”
He said Gone Baby Gone, a Greys Inn colt, was “quite a smart horse” and he was still deciding which of the two races he would run in.
If he takes his place on Super Saturday, Karis Teetan will ride him from draw five.
De Kock runs the three-year-old Australian-bred colt Rock Cocktail and the three-year-old British-bred filly Espumanti in the Grade 1 Champions Cup over 1800m.
He said Rock Cocktail, who is by Rock Of Gibraltar, had been doing “very well.”
He added, “Espumanti may be stretched by the trip, but she is well weighted so we’ve got to try.”
Rock Cocktail was runner up in the Grade 2 Betting World 1900 and close up in the Grade 1 Daily News 2000, so will enjoy the trip and will be ridden by Delpech from draw five.
Espumanti ran on well from near the back to finish runner up to the brilliant Beach Beauty in the Grade 1 Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes over 1600m on July day.
She is six months younger than her contemporaries, being bred North Of The Line, so she should be improving rapidly.
Raymond Daniels rides her from draw two.
The yard also run Thunder Dance in the Grade 2 Gold Bracelet for fillies and mares over 2000m and De Kock said she had been doing “very well”.
Her Grade 1 Maine Chance Farms Paddock Stakes win was in a race run at a crawl and her other Grade 1 win was over 1600m, so there must be a stamina doubt.
However, De Kock said, “I don’t think the trip will stretch her, at least on paper it won’t.”
She is better drawn in two than she was when finishing eight lengths back in the Garden Province and Delpech will now be aboard.