For many people, sport is a numbers game. For those in that category, try this on for size.
When Randall Simons hit the wire on Soqrat in Saturday’s Cape Guineas, Mike de Kock hit a number in this country that will be hard to eclipse. His 118th grade1 win in three decades as a trainer means the following:
He bettered the previous record of 117 held by the legendary Terrance Millard who retired in 1991.
It is 12 more grade 1s than former champion David Payne, who won every grade 1 race in SA — including the 1972 Durban July with In Full Flight — before moving to Australia. The 70-year-old Payne saddled his 106th grade1 winner in Sydney in 2017.
De Kock’s total is 27 more than the number of Grand Prix wins by Michael Schumacher. He won 91 and Lewis Hamilton’s tally is 73.
De Kock is a keen golfer and his total is 100 more than Jack Nicklaus, who won 18 Majors.
Commenting on his website, De Kock said: "Just to be mentioned in the same breath as Terrance Millard is good enough for me. What I remember from those days is that we were absolutely in awe of him."
The spotlight was on Simons in Saturday’s race, and the 32-year-old was undaunted about taking on a trio of top jockeys in Anton Marcus, Richard Fourie and Bernard Fayd’Herbe.
Commenting on Soqrat’s win, Simons said: "His temperament makes him special. He did an amazing job to get to Bernard [on Twist Of Fate]".
It was a good result for Business Day readers as last Friday’s column suggested "Soqrat is worth a bet at his current odds of 7-2".
De Kock’s son, Mathew, was beaming from ear to ear as Soqrat returned to the winner’s circle. "We had the hiccup with his travelling down, but he recovered and got better every day. He’s likely to stay here for the Queen’s Plate," he said.
None of the country’s leading bookmakers — Betting World, World Sports Betting, Hollywood or Lance Michael — have priced up on the Queen’s Plate, scheduled for January 5.
All four have betting on the Sun Met, but that race is six weeks away.
After the Green Point Stakes, it was the view of most pundits that the Queen’s Plate would be a four-horse affair concerning the first four home in the Green Point Stakes — Legal Eagle, Undercover Agent, Do It Again and Rainbow Bridge.
With Soqrat a year younger than much-vaunted Rainbow Bridge and July winner Do It Again, the son of Epaulette, who stands at a fee of R283,332 in Australia, has to have a realistic chance of throwing down the gauntlet to his older rivals.
It has been an eventful month for De Kock who, with businessman Charles Savage, was elected to the board of the Racing Association.
"The election of no-nonsense sharpshooter Mike de Kock and businessman Charles Savage should hail a clean-up and a new age of accountability for the owner body," The Sporting Post reported. "The announcement of joint-chairmen Robert Bloomberg and Mark Currie to the Kenilworth Racing Board is a move to unite and bury the conflicts of the north and south."
For Bloomberg, the appointment comes while Cape racing is facing serious challenges.