WHEN champions come and go in a racing stable, new milestones present themselves as soon as existing ones are met and Diane de Kock will have to move her own target a notch higher after Masnoon won his first race on sand at the Vaal, Tuesday.
The Australian-bred was the stable’s 33rd two-year-old winner of the season – bettering the previous highest 32 – and the boss’ wife says there may well be a few more before the season comes to a close on July 31.
Diane has been in charge of the stable’s ‘babies’ for a number of years –Mike recently described his handing over of around 60 two-year-olds per season to his better half as a “important business strategy that has paid huge dividends due to Diane’s natural affinity with horses”. The specialized care spread between the schooling barn and the main racing yard makes for a fluent operation that produced a best ever 164 winners for the stable in 2012/13.
Masnoon enjoyed his run, galloped through strongly for jockey Francois Herholdt. (JC Photos)
Diane and her team of 20 assigned grooms school and prepare all the new acquisitions and she tells: “The hardest part is letting the youngsters move on to the main yard when they are ready for full race preparation. We grow attached to individuals every year.”
She travels more often these days, but praises her assistant trainer Vivian Nkosi and members of the team who have honed their skills to produce consistently excellent results. “Shea Shea’s groom Elliot and our long time work rider Shorty, who are regulars in Dubai, work in our team when they return from the UAE every year. They assist with some of the difficult two-year-olds. What they learn and experience in Dubai is invaluable, they come back with more experience every year.”
Mathew de Kock saddled Masnoon for Sheik Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum’s Al Adiyaat South Africa. He’s a son of Big Brown, who won the first two legs of the 2008 US Triple Crown and was retired to stud at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky.
“It’s nice to wake up in the morning to train horses of this calibre,” said Mathew, thanking the staunch Dubai-based patron. “Masnoon ran on well and won a good race, he has plenty of improvement to come.”
Jockey Francois Herholdt echoed this, saying: “Masnoon was very green but he took off when I asked him to go at the 500m-mark. He kept up his effort all the way to the line, he will go further.”