WHEN Mike de Kock returned from an extended trip to Europe and Dubai earlier this week, he happily noted that the members of his current championship string based at Randjesfontein appeared to be “peaking” at the right time.
With the Highveld Summer Feature Blitz pending, and in Mike’s absence, assistant trainer Mathew de Kock and his team had done a fine job in preparing the stable’s numerous contenders for their respective bites at the tempting apples soon to present themselves on Gauteng’s tracks.
Mike’s words were barely spoken when three-year-old colt Oak Harbour won Race 1 over 1000m on sand at the Vaal last Tuesday, unleashing with his Maiden victory a series of winners for a yard coming to form with a bang.
In total, team Mdk recorded eight successes at three different race courses in five days. The stable’s sizzling salvo only ceased when Mathew simply had no more runners left to saddle following a popular treble at Turffontein on Saturday afternoon!
Mike was really chuffed with his staff on Saturday evening, mentioning them all by name but for the purposes of this article – Mat, Diane and their assistants at Randjesfontein; Nathan, John, Nicholas and company at Summerveld will have to do, all efforts are appreciated.
Real Fine! The speedball One Fine Day (Anthony Delpech) capped the yard’s Wow Week Of Winners.
Mike commented: “This was a super week and I’m getting more excited by the day. We’ve had a very good month this October and a nice start to the season. I’m looking forward to what lies ahead this term. We’re a bit weak in the older-horse department having shipped a good few to Dubai for 2015, but our three-year-olds in South Africa are most exciting, we have some top class colts and fillies who will make their mark as the season progresses.”
There is little doubt that One Fine Day, an easy winner of her comeback Novice run over 1000m on Saturday, is one of Mike’s fillies from the top drawer.
One Fine Day was allocated a merit rating of 103 rating after her stunning performance against the colts in the Gr1 Golden Horseshoe over 1400m on July Day at Greyville. Given almost no chance by most experts, she ran on well for second to Afrikaburn despite being caught in a no-inch-given elbowing match between the males in the early part. More than that, she challenged the talented winner in the latter part of the race and had the likes of Equus Champion colt Harry’s Son, Anjaal and Jayyed behind her when they hit the line.
After her first win over 1000m at the Vaal in April, Mike expressed the view that One Fine Day had so much speed that she might run herself out of steam beyond 1200m, but having proved true class and the possession of at least a measure of classic stamina since, there is a chance that the daughter of Trippi may join her formidable stablemate Majmu on the float to Cape Town for the Avontuur Estate Fillies Guineas early in December.
Mike commented: “One Fine Day’s brilliant 1400m run came at the beginning of July and the few months we’ve had since matters at this age so there is a chance that she’ll see out the mile in time, but I believe she’ll hold her own from 1000m – 1400m.
“One Fine Day won a nice race on her return here, but she ran below her rating. We were behind on her fitness, she’d done just enough to make it back in this sprint, so I don’t want to read too much into this result. She has plenty to come and with her owner Gaynor Rupert being based in Cape Town, we will strongly consider running her in the Guineas, though there are other races like the Starling Stakes over 1400m at Turffontein that fall well within her scope.”
Raised at Rupert’s Drakenstein Stud, One Fine Day is the third foal of the Kingmambo mare, Peace Bell, who is an own sister to four-time Gr1 winner Campanologist (now a stallion) and a close relation of Glorious Song’s great family of sires including Singspiel, Rahy and Rakeen. On her purple pedigree and what she’s shown to date, One Fine Day could still be anything, and that’s really exciting.
Trip To Rio (Delpech) rallied bravely under pressure to defeat his older rival Lisnoble in a handicap.
(-Watch the runner-up in a similar race next time).
Another Drakenstein-bred three-year-old by Trippi, Trip To Rio followed his recent Maiden win at the Vaal with a game win in a MR73 Handicap over 1600m, giving jockey Anthony Delpech a double for the stable.
It’s never easy for three-year-olds to win handicaps at this time of year, so this colt owned by Sheikh Hamdan must be a notch above average and Mike said: “Trip To Rio is a magnificent looking horse with lots of scope. I liked the way he stepped up to win a handicap after his Maiden, that’s a good feat in itself. He has the potential, he’s one to watch, but he’ll have to up his game even more if he is to play a role in the Graded features later this season.”
Will I Do, a three-year-old filly by Tiger Ridge, posted a similarly impressive feat to follow her eye-catching Maiden success over 1800m at Turffontein last month. The grey is swiftly on the upgrade and won another good race over the same course and distance, clocking a much faster time under jockey Randall Simons.
Will I Do likes to win, she has heart. That’s about all you need!
This was a lowly MR68 handicap, but Will I Do’s win was full of merit. Mike commented: “She had it all to do from a wide draw today and she did it in good style. They don’t often win from so far back at this track. Will I Do had Weiho Marwing’s promising Lemon Tea behind her in third and while we know that Lemon Tea wasn’t at her best, she did bring some fair feature race form from last season into the race. I am happy for my partners, Gary Grant and the Haynes family. I enjoy racing with good friends and let’s hope Will I Do fulfills every bit of her potential, she has a scopy pedigree.” (See article elsewhere on home page, “Equine’s Stewards: Yes, Will Do!”).
Below are the other winners during the week, with Mike’s comments:
Oak Harbour (3-y-o colt by Sail From Seattle, ridden by Randall Simons, owned by Wilgerbosdrift: Nominee Mary Slack, Al Adiyaat SA: Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, Mike De Kock, Dr and Mrs McVeigh, Mrs Malherbe). – Maiden Plate, Vaal Sand, 1000m:
Oak Harbour is expected to improve on turf.
“This was a fair winning debut on sand, Oak Harbour beat a moderate field but he has some ability and I think he will do well on turf too, perhaps better than this. Let’s see, he will win again.”
Massachusetts (4-y-o filly by Trippi, ridden by S’Manga Khumalo, owned by Wilgerbosdrift: Nominee Mary Slack). – MR82 Handicap, Vaal Sand, 1600m:
Massachusetts is putting the lights out on sand but remember, she won’t be left standing on turf.
“Massachusetts has taken to the sand, winning her last two and now rated 83, but she won her debut on turf at Scottsville and she can win again back on turf off her low turf rating, she’s still improving and her record shows three wins and two places from seven starts. That’s nothing to frown at, her dam was stakes placed on turf, she has a scopy pedigree.”
Estidraaj (AUS) (3-y-o filly by Hard Spun, ridden by Anthony Delpech, owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum). – Maiden Plate, Greyville Polytrack, 1600m:
Estidraaj was bred Down Under, but her roots lie here in South Africa.
“Estidraaj enjoyed the mile on the polytrack and she was impressive winning by almost 10 lengths. She’s a home-bred from Shadwell, a nice scopy sort for Sheikh Hamdan who will go on to more. While Estidraaj was bred in Australia, her blood goes back to an accomplished South African-raced family. She was Shadwell’s last foal from Nufoos, a mare by Elusive Quality from Mythical Play, who herself was a Gr1 winner here in South Africa for David Payne and indeed our Champion Three-Year-Old Filly in 2000.”
Dreamuponadream (3-y-o gelding by Judpot, ridden by Anthony Delpech, owned by Dr M H Tang and Ms S M C Au). – MR72 Handicap, Turffontein (i) 1200m:
Hong Kong-owned Dreamuponadream is a bright R2R prospect.
“Dreamuponadream is coming to hand very well and I think he will be a factor in the Emperors Ready To Run Stakes. He was selected and bought by Dr Michael Tang from Hong Kong, who kindly sent us a second young horse after we met him at the sale. We need this quality of client to buy horses in SA, we’ll be crossing fingers that Dreamuponadream can go places this season, he’s a good, progressive sort of horse.”
Embrasiatic (ARG) (3-y-o filly by Asiatic Boy, ridden by Muzi Yeni, owned by Al Adiyaat (SA), Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum). – Maiden Plate, Greyville Polytrack, 1400m:
Title-chasing Muzi Yeni might be a tiny lad, but he’s no slouch in a close finish, as evident here as he punches Embrasiatic home.
“Embrasiatic liked the extra after her 1200m debut, she’s a home-bred for Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and the second runner by Asiatic Boy to win for us. Embrasiatic just won narrowly, but she’ll be better on a galloping course, she has more in the tank. Winning with the offspring of horses I trained is always a pleasure. Archipenko’s filly Madam Chiang won a Gr1 in the UK today. Time flies, we’re getting old!”