Picture: 123RF
Picture: 123RF

Nine months after Hawwaam failed to justify favouritism in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate, trainer Mike de Kock believes he is housing another top performer who can win the prestigious grade 1 race in January.                    

The performance of De Kock’s three-year-old Mount Pleasant in the grade 2 Joburg Spring Challenge had the former champion telling the media he felt the colt is “a horse of international quality — he’ll win a grade 1 in Australia, of that I have no doubt”.

De Kock has pencilled in the Dingaans and Queen’s Plate as the colt’s objectives over the coming months.

It is easy to understand the Randjesfontein trainer’s enthusiasm when one considers the horses he beat — Cirillo and Chimchuri Run — in the Spring Challenge.

De Kock said on his website: “I had it in the back of my mind that Mount Pleasant could beat top-rated Cirillo (127) and Chimichuri Run (126), but I knew he’d be penalised if he did so.”

What De Kock said next will come as a shock to our handicappers who are used to constant criticism regarding their ratings.

“I believe the handicappers assessment in increasing Mount Pleasant from 112 to 127 is spot on. We as trainers go into weight-for-age races with our eyes open knowing that if a runner finishes close to the higher-rated horses or beats them, we can expect a penalty.

“Anyone who bemoans a penalty after a weight-for-age event knowing that they were competing against higher-rated older horses doesn’t understand how weight-for-age or merit-ratings works.

“Mount Pleasant is a genuine weight-for-age horse. He’ll be running in the classics and weight-for-age events and will probably be a top miler. He is not a handicapper.

“Some trainers and commentators battle to differentiate between weight-for-age and handicappers. This is sometimes due to the programme and, unfortunately, the Durban July is a race that seems to cloud judgment. Many evaluate ratings with the July in mind.

“Generally, in weight-for-age races, the handicapper gets it right and we as trainers go into these races knowing what to expect. The upside to the higher ratings is that — if your horse is an entire or a filly — its paddock value goes up with its rating.

“It’s a simple fact that breeders are inclined to support higher-rated, better-performed horses and the progeny of higher-rated fillies attract the best prices, especially if they are well conformed.

“As a big buyer myself, when assessing pedigrees, I take serious cognisance of weight-for-age performances as opposed to handicaps,” said De Kock.

Mount Pleasant races in the colours of Dave McClean and cost R1.07m when purchased as a yearling in Australia. He’s a son of Vancouver who stands at a fee of A$30,000 (R357,532) at Coolmore Stud.

Coolmore were in the headlines again last week when the Magnier team went to 3,4-million guineas to secure a Galileo filly who is a sister to Mogul and Japan.

Michael Magnier said: “We’ve been lucky with this family with Japan and Mogul. The mare produces great-looking stock and great racehorses.”

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