THEY’re not your average altar boys, but Mike de Kock, Christophe Soumillon, Mathew de Kock and Trevor Brown will probably be saying a few silent prayers before the start of Saturday’s 141st Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
The smashing headline photo of Trevor with the stable and South Africa’s first Derby runner, Mubtaahij, was snapped by Trainer Mag on Friday and Diane de Kock tweeted: “A big day daws for us and all SA racing enthusiasts. Whatever happens today, history has been written. We’re very proud to be a part of this!”
Di’s sentiments sum it all up. An amazing dream has come true for the stable, they’d love to visit again in years to come, but this has essentially been a massive and necessary learning curve and, really, anything can happen.
“We can’t write the Sunday headlines, we’re here and we have a good horse to compete with. Only time will tell now,” Mike said on Friday.
“So far all is good but at this stage we have a lot to do. We’ll see if he’s up to it. I know he’s a good horse. I’m hoping the travelling won’t take it out of him.”
Jehan Malherbe selected Mubtaahij in France (at Arqana Sale) and Mike commented. “What are the chances of selecting a horse in Europe from the number they breed every year, what, 60,000 horses? Mubtaahij is one of the 20 qualifiers for the Kentucky Derby – and he qualified fifth. It’s amazing and a great honour to be here,” Mike said.
It’s crunch time then, and with everything having gone according to plan over the last two weeks, Mubtaahij has as good a chance as any in a race in which nothing is ever cut and dried. The stable’s many supporters all over the world will be fixed in front of their television sets for this great moment. Those who can’t be there in the flesh are there in spirit – here in South Africa we’ll be well ahead on beer and biltong by the time they line up. We’ll be shouting our throats dry and we’ll be hoping. We know what we have in this extraordinary talented racing team, and we have a super horse in Mubtaahij.
Bring on the Kentucky Derby!
The Kentucky Derby and all the preceding action will be screened live on TellyTrack at 12.24am on Sunday morning. Betting will be available as local pools will be commingled for various bet types including Win, Place, Exacta, Pick 3 and the Double.
*Thanks for use of photos to Diane de Kock, Deb Martin, Anne Eberhardt-Keogh, Melissa Bauer-Herzog and Trainer Mag.
Mubtaahij after a breeze-up, Thursday.
The last 200m to the winning post at Churchill Downs.
Humour from the US media.