MIKE de Kock feels Majmu is as well as can be for Saturday’s R2-million President’s Champions Challenge over 2000m at Turffontein but took a swipe at bookmakers who priced her up at 7-10 to win the Grade 1 race. Her spoke to JACK MILNER, editor of The Citizen’s Racing Express.
“I think the betting is ridiculous,” De Kock said yesterday. “She’s trying the distance for the first time and she’s taking on males for the first time as well. And it’s not as if the males are weak performers. You have a Triple Crown winner in Louis The King and last year’s Vodacom Durban July runner-up in Wylie Hall. These are top horses.
“Putting her up at that price puts unnecessary pressure on the stable.”
Having said all that, De Kock is very happy with Majmu’s preparation for the race. “It’s a pity we couldn’t compete in three-year-old Classics but the filly was not right. Entering her in this race was the logical route. I didn’t want to go straight from 1600m to the 2450m of the Oaks – not after just two weeks.
“She took her last run well and I think she has come on since then.”
There is always the thought of whether Majmu will go flat in her second run after a layoff and while De Kock is not generally much of a believer in that theory, it is at the back of his mind. “I’m not expecting it but I wouldn’t be surprised if it does come and blindside us. These things sometimes do happen so you have to be prepared for it. We just hope it doesn’t happen.”
The fact she will be going beyond 1600m for the first time has been discussed in racing circles as an obstacle but De Kock says he is not concerned. “In theory she’s bred for the trip. She’s not tried it but I expect her to get it. She’s a very relaxed filly in running but while on pedigree she will do it, I suppose there are always the little question marks.”
Of the five Grade 1 races on Champions Day, De Kock saddles three favourites and two second favourites. Ertijaal, who disappointed in the SA Classic last month, has been priced up at 12-10 to win the SA Derby. “I think it’s another ridiculous price. There are a lot of horses with chances and runners like French Navy, finished ahead of him last time.
“I think his poor run last time had a lot to do with the soft ground. He’s a very low action horse and more than anything else, the going was his undoing. His mission has always been the Derby and I don’t think the 2450m distance is a problem.
“He looks very, very well at the moment and I’m happy with the horse.”
The former Champion trainer also saddles 22-10 favourite Shaama in the SA Nursery over 1160m and joint second favourite Rafeef, who is at 9-2. “I’m taking a bit of a chance with the filly, Shaama. I’m gambling on the strength of the colts. But she’s a forward filly, and she’s fit and well. With the experience under her belt she must be a runner. She was slow last time but made it up quickly and will be better for the run.”
Rafeef, although Australian bred, is the first foal of top SA sprinter National Colour, who was trained by Sean Tarry. He will be having his first run and De Kock describes him as a “very nice type a horse”. “He won’t be 100% wound up, probably about 85% but he shows us he’s good enough to run at this level. Ultimately he is the better horse of my two.
“I see him as Guineas prospect.”
De Kock also saddles Alboran Sea in the Computaform Sprint over 1000m and she is at 7-2 behind 3-1 favourite Captain Of All, trained by Dennis Drier. “I elected to keep her fresh and not give her a prep run. She’s a very fast filly, and although we won the Cape Flying Championship last time, we had to do a lot of travelling because of African Horse Sickness worries.
“We beat most of them in Cape Town and this time a lot of them have to do the travelling.
“I’m happy to race coming off a rest because last time she won her comeback race well and then went flat. I didn’t want to chance a second run again.”