Tag Archives: Mike De Kock

Igugu’s Legacy Lives On

Wonderful news: IguguRacingNews reported this morning that we finally know the name of the only son the super filly brought to the world in her short lived career as a broodmare. His name is Kikujirou.

The two year old, sired by Dansili, will be in good hands as he will be trained by John Gosden in England.

Great things are expected: Kikujirou has been given an entry for the 2019 Epsom Derby! Obviously it’s very early days and it remains to be seen how good he really is; however, here’s hoping he can live on the legacy of the great filly.

Igugu has been one of my all-time favourites. Up with the likes of Paco Boy, Sea The Stars, Variety Club and Rachel Alexandra she is part of my personal Hall of Fame. Not forgotten, and never will, are her gutsy wins in the Met and the Durban July.

Triumphs so special they stand the test of time.

Preview – President’s Champions Challenge

Exciting filly Majmu is going to post as the hot favourite in the big Grade 1 President’s Champions Challenge this afternoon at Turffontein. Unbeaten in her last three, including successin the Cape Fillies Guineas and the Empress Club Stakes, both Grade 1’s, she has obviously star potential. Trainer Mike De Kock hails her as a filly right up with the best he has ever trained – if not even better!

She is weighted to win this big Grade 1 today. She receives loads of weight as a filly against the boys as well as for her age. If she is as good as anyone thinks she is, then there isn’t too much in this field that could be dangerous to her. However first time against the boys over 2.000m is a completely alien experience for her. And that is the concern. At a very short price, I take her one…

… but only because there is a horse in the line-up which ranks among the best in the county over the 2.000m trip. That is of course Wylie Hall. The memories of his devastating demotion to second place in the biggest race of the South African racing calendar is still vivid – after a tough battle with Legislate, the stewards decided that he had interfered with the original runner-up in a way that made a difference about the outcome of the race. You could see it that way, and many did, but other opinions were voiced aplenty as well.

Anyway, the Durban July is history, Wylie Hall has moved on and made his season debut earlier this month in the Grade 2 Colorado King Stakes. He won this prep race easily, in fact couldn’t have been more impressive and is clearly in good order. Naturally he should improve for the run.

His excellent track record means he is expected to go really well today. I see him as the only real danger to Majmu. He has to give 4.5kg away to the filly. But age, sex as well as proven class over track and trip are fairly reflected in the weights in my mind. At 5/1 he looks the value in this race.

President’s Champions Challenge (Grade 1)
Wylie Hall @ 5/1 Sportingbet – 5pts Win

No Lasix for Mubtaahij

Knowing Mike De Kock, it doesn’t come as a surprise, but it is still a brave move – the South African handler has opted against the use of Lasix for his Kentucky Derby runner Mubtaahji. De Kock argues:

“He’s never run on it, he doesn’t bleed, and I’m not prepared to take my chances running him on a substance he’s never run on before. … He’s good enough without it. I’m not experienced enough to say whether Thoroughbreds in general will or won’t run well on Lasix … If I gave him Lasix he may run better, he may run worse, but I’m not going to experiment. Lasix is not even a consideration for him.”

Source: BloodHorse.com

Obviously as someone who condemns the use of Lasix as race day medication I applaud this decision. In fact I admire his decision! Because let’s be honest, most foreign trainers do use Lasix once they send over their horses to the US. And one could argue: Rightly so.

My point of view is that Lasix is a performance enhancing drug. Actually, did anyone ever seriously doubted that? I mean this drug seems particularly effective if horses run on it for the first time. Naturally, these are often foreign raiders on their first ever visit to the US. There are many examples of horses improving dramatically. You’ve ever heard of Main Sequence?

But my favourite example is the filly Dank. A good filly, a Group 3 winner in Europe – but once on Lasix, she looked like on a different planet! I’d say she was literally flying in the Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington. Yes, maybe only a US Turf Grade 1, against weaker opposition than she would probably meet in Europe – still, the sheer acceleration… spectacular! Unbelievable!

Another fact to my point: She beat the very good filly Duntle by more than six lengths that day – she wasn’t even close to do that when these two met before. Not to mention multiple Grade 1 winning mare Marketing Mix, beaten by almost six lengths either! Further to his: If I have it right in mind, Duntle actually didn’t run on Lasix that day at Arlington.

Now, this is only the most dramatic example which comes to my mind when I think about the use of Lasix and the possible improvement it can bring out. There are many more, if you search for it, though. That says, it can’t make poor horses fly and doesn’t work for everyone. Of course not. If you’re not good enough, you’re not enough anyway. But there’s no doubt, that Lasix can bring out some improvement in good horses. It’s a performance enhancer. Simple as that.

That brings me back to the more present moment: De Kock opting against Lasix. As much as I applaud this decision , you have to wonder if it is a wise move from a pure performance point of view. Doesn’t this lower the chances of Mubtaahij to win the Derby? Yes, it absolutely does in my mind. He’s running against a bunch of US horses doped to the maximum (exaggeratedly spoken – but true to an extend). It certainly doesn’t make this mighty task any easier.

On the other hand, you got to trust the wise man – Mike De Kock. He’s a brilliant trainer, and If he believes this horse is good enough to take on a top class US Derby generation, even without Lasix,… well you know, chances arereal that the horse is good enough indeed!

Strydom value on Leeuloop Jet at Vaal

The betting market suggests that this a widen open race with plenty of chances, and indeed, that is the case. Though I can drill down the field to a handful of runners with realistic chances to go close. Favourite Orchestrated will be one of them. He won over course and distance last month and had a couple of runners in this field behind him. A swing in the weights and a five pound higher mark make life tougher though. He found 2.450m too far subsequently, dropping back to 1.700m will surely suit. He’s a fair favourite and a fair price.

The only three year old in the race, Kingmambos Legacy has a very light weight and that must give him a chance, as well as you always have to respect De Kock’s runners. But he hasn’t shown anything in six starts that suggests he is up to this standard. He also has been campaigned over further and may find this trip too sharp. Tee Jay Ar finished 3rd behind Orchestrated the last time. A 2.5kg swing in the weights can help to get closer, but the trip is a worry. His best is over shorter and he may find this too far once again.

Talented Eurakilon loves this track and has fair form in the book. But his problem is that he gets going way too late on too many occasions. He has an obvious chance if he can produce his finish earlier, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Lightly raced Thatho Magetique is an interesting horse. He has fair form to offer and may be able to improve a bit. A light weight gives him a chance but it remains to be seen how he fares for the step up in class against much stronger rivals.

Exposed Noble Star has plenty to find on ratings, however a very light weight of 52kg gives him a chance to be in with a shout. He’s been consistent lately in lower grades but hasn’t won in ages. He shouldn’t be good enough, though the weight is in his favour. Zanzibar Man goes well at this track and wasn’t too far beaten by Orchestrated last month, swing in the weights with this rival gives him a competitive chance, though he has hit the crossbar a bit too often and his last win dated back almost a year in lower class.

Dark horse could be Leeuloop Jet. A good deal beaten by Orchestrated the last time, he usually loves track and trip as he is 2 from 3 over course and distance. He’s coming down in the weights and rated to be competitive today with conditions very much to suit. He was only a lengths beaten on his penultimate run by a lightweight, a repeat of that form should see him going close. Interestingly top jockey Piere Strydom gets the leg up, which must mean that a strong run is expected. Strydom has a 24% strike rate with trainer Moffatt and steered Leeuloop Jet to two wins last season. So to see him up again is a confidence boost. Leeuloop Jet is a 9/1 chance which looks too big and the value in this field.
2.35 Vaal: MR 92 Handicap, 1.700m
Leeuloop Jet @ 9/1 Bet365 – 5pts win