Ad debuts go, the rudimentary accolade for Champagne Cocktail’s first exposure to the public at Turffontein on Saturday would have been a bubbly, ‘Wow’!, though Mike de Kock always advises caution until his promising newcomers have proven themselves against stronger opposition.
Three-year-old Champagne Cocktail, from the saddling ring to parade to post, was the subject of praise from pundits for the way she was turned out and how she physically resembles her full-sister, Sparkling Water, the 2022 HWB Durban July winner.
Described as calm and sensible before the race, Champagne Cocktail looked like an ‘old pro’ in her daunting first-up challenge of 1700m. She travelled comfortably, no pulling or looking around, and raced into contention with a long, flowing action. She took command after the home bend, then calmly completed what was to be a 7.50-length formality.
Mike, jockey JP van der Merwe and everyone else were duly impressed, but Mike did point out that the runners behind her were moderate, as they tend to be at this stage of the season. Champagne Cocktail’s rivals Azaleas For All, AnnewithanE and Heart Peaks have had no calls from Hollywood agents. Some will argue that Champagne Cocktail was in a race all of her own, wholly unextended, and that collateral form will prove to be insignificant, but time will tell if the form stacks up.
Champagne Cocktail does not have the tactical pace of her famous sister and Mike commented: “This is why I ran her over 1700m. She doesn’t have the speed to have given us winning confidence over 1200m or 1400m. She’ll go as far as you want!”
This suggests that Champagne Cocktail will follow a race schedule with the 2024 SA Fillies Classic and the Oaks as her major objectives. But we’re speculating six, seven months into the future and, as always, Mike will want to try her a level or two above her Maiden success before making any further assessments.
“She has natural ability and a way better temperament than her sister. And that always helps. She was professional in the parade ring and behind the start. Our breaking in and pre-training team did a great job with her early on which has helped to keep a lid on things. Those are just pieces of the puzzle, so we can’t get too excited yet.
“I’m sorry Mary (Slack, owner/breeder), couldn’t be here today, I know how much she loves this family and the fillies that she bred.”
Champagne Cocktail is by Silvano out of Espumanti, by Dansili, and was raised at Wilgerbosdrift.
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