Trainer De Kock on a roll and still has an ace up his sleeve
Triple Crown victor Malmoos hasn’t even been produced yet this season
Gauteng commentators will have lost count on how many times they have said “and the winner is trained by Mike de Kock” in the past fortnight.
Three winners at each of the last four meetings is some achievement and the eight-times champion conditioner still hasn’t played his ace.
De Kock’s amazing run began on October 10 with Sparkling Water, Fire Flower and Desert Miracle winning at Turffontein and — three days later — Al Muthana, Motown Magic and Wisteria Walk notched victories at the Vaal.
At Turffontein last Saturday, it was the turn of Courageous Cat, Masaaken and Aragosta which will have caused racing fans to have a rethink that this season's trainers championship will only concern Paul Peter and Justin Snaith.
The ace in De Kock’s hand is last season’s Triple Crown victor Malmoos, who hasn’t been seen in action since finishing fifth behind Got The Greenlight in the Champions Challenge in May.
With Luke Ferraris now domiciled in Hong Kong, De Kock will have to find a new jockey for the four-year-old. Asked if he had decided who would partner the Summer Cup hopeful, he replied: “No, it's not something I need to decide on right now.”
Both S’manga Khumalo and Gavin Lerena will be in the believing as these two riders have excelled on Al Muthana and Masaaken — Lerena’s performance on the latter last Saturday was right out of the top drawer.
Lerena was in the saddle for Sparkling Water's Turffontein win and De Kock described the run as “a classy performance”. He intends to aim the four-year-old at the Summer Cup.
While it's understandable that bookmaker Lance Michael has Malmoos as the Summer Cup second favourite at 9-2, the price of 5.6-1 about Sparkling Water finishing in the first four is seriously tempting.
Lerena scored a facile nine lengths win on Desert Miracle on the same day as Sparkling Waters win. “Her aim is the Fillies Guineas and I want to give her one more run — she’s very good,” said De Kock.
Khumalo didn’t panic on Aussie import Al Muthana when “they went like the clappers” at the Vaal on Tuesday and he brought his mount with a perfectly timed challenge to take top honours. Next stop is the Charity Mile and a possible clash with Got The Green Light.
Without question, the most impressive of 57-year-old De Kock’s trio of winners last Saturday was Courageous Cat who waltzed home eight lengths clear of his nearest rival in the third race.
It was a shrewd move by Mary Slack and her daughter Jessica Jell to acquire this son of Kitten’s Joy, who is a popular stallion in the US.
Bred at Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s farm in Kentucky, Kitten’s Joy was American Champion Turf horse in 2004 and — when he retired to stud two years later — he had won nine races including the grade 1 Secretariat Stakes.
Courageous Cat is out of the Horse Chestnut mare Tamdid and his next start will determine whether he is going to be a player in the forthcoming three-year-old races such as the Guineas and SA Classic.
• Oisin Murphy won his third successive jockeys title in the UK on Saturday beating William Buick by two winners.
A double at Haydock on Friday gave Murphy a lead of three going into Saturday's big meeting at Ascot, but Buick could only pull one back and lost out by 153 winners to 151.
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