MIKE de Kock saddles three at the Dubai World Cup on Saturday and his son Mathew will be taking care of duties on Derby Day at Turffontein.
While Mat and his assistants are going to be running around like crazy saddling 14 horses across 12 races, he is looking forward to a day on which the yard is stepping out some heavy artillery and is likely to better its Gr1-winning tally of 119 to at least 120 or more.
The last time a Gr1 SA Derby favourite was quoted at 1-6 was on the afternoon of 24 April 1999, when Horse Chestnut came to Turffontein for the last time and won the race by 10 lengths prior to being exported for a campaign in the United States.
Mat was just seven years old at the time and said this morning that he only has vague memories of the occasion. Of course, in his wildest dreams he wouldn’t have thought that he’d be the man in the public spotlight with a horse in some quarters considered in the same league as SA’s famous star, two decades later.
He said about Hawwaam: “We only decided to race him in the Derby a few weeks ago, but he was in full work all along. We made some minor changes to his work, but it’s been smooth sailing, he is fit and well, ready for the contest.”
This is racing, but we’d like to predict ‘no-contest’ like in the days of Horse Chestnut, despite the fact that tries 2450m for the first time, like the erstwhile star did in his day. “His pedigree suggests it won’t be a problem. Personally I am not worried about the trip, Hawwaam is expected to see it out, and to win,” said Mat.
Hawwaam tries 2450m for the first time, like the erstwhile star did in his day. “His pedigree suggests it won’t be a problem. Personally I am not worried about the trip, Hawwaam is expected to see it out, and to win,” said Mat.
Soqrat, the stable’s other big gun, will take on his older rivals in the Gr1 Horse Chestnut Stakes. He just ran out of steam in the Gr2 Hawaii Stakes recently, but will strip a fitter horse this time. “Soqrat’s turned, he has come on from his last run and is better off at the weights with all that beat him that day, he’s a big runner,” Mat said.
Several other De Kock runners have winning chances on the day, including the two-year-old pacers Gin Fizz and Frosted Gold.
In the absence of Basadi Faith, Gin Fizz looks to have the Gr3 Pretty Polly Stakes all but sewn up, while Frosted Gold and Twilight Moon will resume their rivalry in the Gr3 Protea Stakes: “Gin Fizz will be hard to beat, and it should be a close tussle again between Frosted Gold and Twilight Moon. We’re 1kg better off for a dead-heat, but Twilight Moon was green like us and would have improved too, we’re looking forward to the race.”