THE record books will show that The Apache, a six year old South African bred entire, trained by Mike de Kock, crossed the line first in the 2013 Group 1 Arlington Million staged in Chicago on 17 August, before losing the race in the boardroom.
That is often the nature of racing, there are no sure things and even passing the line in first does not always guarantee that you will return victorious.
It was a great day for Real Solution(USA), who became his sire’s third winner on the day, but it was an even better one for The Apache, despite being demoted to second.
The Apache (blue and yellow silks), won the 2013 Arlington Million, but lost it in the Boardroom after a successful objection by the connections of Real Solution (red and white). – photo credit: espn.
As a strapping black colt, The Apache, by Mogok (USA) out of the Dolpour(IRE) mare Apache Rose was purchased in 2009 by Winston Chow for the ZAR equivalent of the very modest sum of $8000. And what a purchase it has turned out to be.
Mr Chow eventually wanted The Apache to compete in Hong Kong, where an import may not have had more than 17 starts. This would soon prove to be a major challenge for his trainer Gavin van Zyl.
As the colt showed immense promise, each race had to be weighed up and the consequences considered, all the while keeping an eye on that magical number 17.
It wasn’t long before The Apache started adding some Graded silverware to the cupboard. First up was the Grade 2 Investec Dingaans over 1600m at Turffontein where he romped home 1.25 lengths clear.
After a six-month break, he reappeared in Durban in the traditional winter season’s opener for three-year-olds, the Grade 2 KRA Guineas, where he finished a creditable fourth.
Next up was the big one, the one that all trainers with promising three-year-olds want to win, the Grade 1 Daily News over 2000m at Greyville. The Apache relished the extra 400m and stuck his nose in front to deny Run For It (SAF) on the line.
For The Apache, the season came to a glorious end on the 31st of July in the Grade 1 Champions Cup over 1800m where colt showed he had matured beyond belief, winning by a quarter length against older horses. It was his tenth start and with two Grade 1 victories, he was crowned Equus Champion Three-Year-Old Colt.
A couple of placings in Graded company followed and then it was decision time as that magical total of 17 starts loomed. Mr Chow decided that Hong Kong was not a big enough stage for his star colt and opted instead to sell a half share to Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum of Dubai.
Consequently, The Apache joined Mike de Kock’s merry band of Dubai bound horses at the quarantine station in Cape Town. Five months of quarantine followed on three different continents and yet The Apache lost none of his form.
Having his first start for Mike De Kock and his first in almost a year, The Apache dominated the Group 2 Al Rashidiya over 1800m at Meydan under Christophe Soumillon.
With a second in the Grade 1 Jebel Hatta and a second in the Grade 1 Dubai Duty Free on World Cup night, The Apache was one of the stars of the World Cup Festival. Not bad for an $8000 purchase, who had spent five months languishing in quarantine!
De Kock and The Apache were however far from finished and the tough, sound South African bred boarded a plane for the UK. There De Kock allowed him to settle in, before having a warm up run in the Group 2 York Stakes. The Apache showed he was ready for another challenge, with a credible 4th behind the talented Mukhadram(GB).
The ultimate plan had always been the Group 1 Arlington Million and De Kock was satisfied that the colt was on target. Again a plane trip loomed.
By the time The Apache landed in the United States, he had completed five long distance flights and visited four countries in just over a year! Not something any sane person would ever consider asking of a highly strung racehorse and yet due to quarantine restrictions, the South African horses do it routinely.
Sadly, the outcome did not go The Apache’s way and it is hard to lose a race in the boardroom, but even in defeat, the $8000 bargain basement buy from the Bloodstock South Africa National Two-Year-Old Sales, proudly flew the flag for South Africa.
Just like passing the post first does not always guarantee victory, one also has to remember that winning is not everything and sometimes just passing the post is quite an achievement in itself. – words by Tom Callaghan, CEO of Bloodstock SA.