IT takes confidence to drop to near last and come around the entire field with 400m to run, but in-form Randall Simons knew what he had under him – Soqrat produced a powerful finish to win the Gr1 Premier Champion Stakes over 1600m at Greyville on Saturday.
Race caller Sheldon Peters called two-year-old Soqrat’s move “a bold one” as they turned for home and most of his fans would’ve had shared anxious moments, but neither Simons nor De Kock was too concerned and Mike commented on Sunday: “The plan was always to go to the outside for a run, the inside was chopped up and we didn’t want to race there.”
Simons said: “Last time Soqrat ran at Greyville he was green and lost momentum around the bend. I pulled him out and went to the outside and he quickened all the way, he has the attitude of a good horse.”
Mike said that Soqrat would be able to hold his own “anywhere in the world” and thanked owner Sheikh Hamdan for his support. “It’s a great honour to train for Sheikh Hamdan, who is almost the biggest owner in the world. It is an honour for South African racing, too, to have Sheikh Hamdan supporting our industry. Training for him was one of the turning points of my career.”
Second-placed Alyaasaat, also Hamdan-owned was slow off the mark and ran a cracker of a race in second. Mike said: “We have three excellent youngsters in Soqrat, Alyaasaat and Barahin, and there is a chance that one of them may be exported this year, but as things stand right now all three of them are staying in South Africa. We’d like to make a stallion of Soqrat.”
Soqrat, bred by Shadwell Australia is by Epaulette (Commands), a multiple G1-winning sprinter who has produced three first-crop juvenile Group winners.
Soqrat was Mike’s 117th Gr1 winner, equalling the record of Terrance Millard and Mike said: “To be mentioned in the same breath is an honour, when we were growing up Terrance Millard was the trainer we all looked up to.”
Mike praised his team and said: “I am blessed. Over the years I’ve had some great people riding for me, working for me, to train for the clients I have, to have played a part in South African racing. It’s nice now to have settled down with my son and family and to train like this, like a family business.”
Headline photo: Mike and Mathew de Kock, travelling head lad Mike Ndzilane, with Soqrat. (Candiese Marnewick).