MIKE de Kock paid tribute to Sheikh Hamdan of Dubai after his R5-million filly Ghaalla (Gavin Lerena) won her 1160m debut at Turffontein on Saturday.
Mike said: “Sheikh Hamdan has been good to South African racing, he has supported us for many years and has been invaluable to both of our major sales events.
“Ghaalla was the sales-topper at BSA’s National Yearling Sale last year, Sheikh Hamdan put big money down to secure her and it’s a relief that she’s won. She has ability to go with her good looks and shouldn’t be long in earning him some black type. She will come into her own around the turn, probably up to a mile,” added Mike.
Jehan Malherbe’s Form Bloodstock signed for Shadwell SA at Sale, the price tag of the Varsfontein Stud bred Ghaalla surpassing the previous highest price of R4,75 million paid for Savannah Cat in 2015.
By Avontuur Stud’s stalwart Var (Forest Wildcat), Ghaalla is out of the winning Captain Al mare Fidelity, a three parts sister to Gr3 East Cape Derby winner Captain Splendid and a half-sister to Gr2 winning sire Master Of My Fate, and the four time stakes winner Justthewayyouare.
Her second dam is Equus Champion Promisefrommyheart, whose six career wins included successes in the Gr1 Triple Tiara 1600 and Gr1 SA Fillies Guineas.
Ghaalla was first home in a stable treble, followed in Race 3 over 1400m by Mohammed Khaleel’s Make Me Happy, who shed her Maiden under Anthony Delpech with a two-length success over Hafla.
Then came Silvano’s daughter Orchid Island, who like her the rest of the Ilha Da Vitoria family is a little “pocket rocket” with plenty of ability.
Orchid Island, ridden by Delpech, posted a follow-up win after beating male opposition in her previous start and Mike said: “She’s getting better with maturity like the rest of her family. She’s concentrating better in blinkers and her time in Cape Town did her the world of good.
“She doesn’t have many runs left before it will be stud time for her, We’re hoping to go for the Empress Club Stakes and then for the Champions Challenge. That might be her swansong, unless Mary (Slack, owner) wants to keep her in training, but I think she’s done enough to warrant going to stud.”