THERE is some speculation in racing circles in the wake of four-year-old filly Espumanti’s stunning win in Friday night’s Gr2 Betting World 1900, but we can confirm that Mike de Kock has not placed Senior Advocate Gerrie Nel on standby for Tuesday, 24 June, when the final field for the 2014 Durban July will be announced.
The stable’s highest-rated July nomination, a 9-2 chance, handed a galloping lesson to 11 hard-knocking, well-performed male rivals (including 10 other July hopefuls), striding to the line 2.25-lengths ahead of Punta Arenas and Halve The Deficit. Her performance carried so much merit that Mike hinted cheekily in his post-race interview that (The July panel) “will be hard pressed to leave her out!”
In their online review of the race Sporting Post suggests that (considering old wounds), Mike had taken his gloves off well ahead of schedule this year, but they agree that Espumanti’s manner of victory was “very impressive indeed”, the trainer’s confidence not misplaced.
Mike de Kock was pretty chuffed with Espumanti (Anthony Delpech), after the Betting World 1900.
Another factor in favour of a Top 16-spot for Mary Slack’s talented UK-bred filly is Gold Circle’s recent announcement that the winners of selected feature races, including the Betting World 1900, will be “preferentially considered” when a panel comprising company officials and handicappers batten down the hatches to decide which hopefuls among a dozen or more qualified contenders are awarded the final few prized berths.
This was Espumanti’s second Gr2 win – the previous a success in the 2013 Ipi Tombe Challenge, and she’s undoubtedly getting better in this, the latter part of her four-year-old career. Mike has often pointed out how runners bred in the Northern Hemisphere improve when they’ve caught up six months of physical development in the Southern Hemisphere. Espumanti has matured at the right time and in view of her recent rate of progress the stable has every reason to believe that she’s got even more to offer.
Jockey Anthony Delpech commented: ““This was the best I have felt her. She picked it up really well when asked and they were never going to get to me. And the further the better for her, I believe.”
Mike said that while Espumanti raced below her best during her spell at the Cape late last year, the time spent in her temporary coastal surroundings proved to be beneficial: “She is over the niggles of her younger days. I am aware that a lot of those behind her will improve out of this race, but she is very good. I must thank my team again, I have been travelling a lot” he said.
Mike confirmed his belief that Espumanti would be included in the July field, saying that she’d done enough and won’t be racing again before the big day. There are a few other stables who will have a good measure of confidence about the inclusion of their respective runners, but there will be a range of disappointments, for sure.
The build-up to South Africa’s greatest race is never without controversy or heated debate, but we’re odds-on for a particularly interesting ride this season. The ‘borderline’ of the 2014 July log is congested with a dozen or more runners who are all rated well into the 100s. Most of them also happen to be in good racing form. There is only one guarantee: Whatever the panel decides will be followed by disputes and arguments from any number of disgruntled connections who will feel that their runners were unfairly excluded.