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Dave The King powers to victory in the Gr 1 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge over 1600m at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Saturday (Candiese Lenferna Photography)

With seven Grade 1 winners in the line up, Saturday’s G1 Gold Challenge at HWB Greyville was billed as ‘the race of the year’ – trust Mike de Kock to upset the more fancied runners with his recent Pinnacle Stakes winner, Dave The King.

The big, beautiful galloper has been placed against the land’s leading runners several times, but it took expert planning and preparation to get him into a Grade 1 contest over a course and distance that, in hindsight (and foresight), was always going to be his best chance of bagging a ‘major’.

Mike has always held Dave The King in high regard. He was truly excited about Dave The King’s high cruising speed and excellent fractions when he came to the stable in April 2023, impressed with his run to Charles Dickens in the KZN Guineas and then almost held on to beat See It Again in the Grade 1 Daily News 2000.

But Dave The King had a tendency to gallop too hard, early, had to learn to settle better, to reach his optimum potential and Mike said: “It took me a long time for me to convince the partnership to geld him. Since he’s been gelded, he’s honestly a different horse. Well done to them, because they’ve been patient and it’s been frustrating at times. I am so happy to get this win under the belt. This is why we’re in the game. It’s about group 1 racing and these are the ones we want all the time.”

Muzi Yeni, aware of Dave The King’s journey to the race, said: “I’ve only ridden him once at home and never in a race. I was weary about getting him fired up. He can be very aggressive going down to the start. I had a clean start and once I got him into a good rhythm, the race was for him to lose. They went quite quick upfront, which played into his hands. Going through the 700, I had to take it up as I couldn’t hold him back anymore. I got a ground advantage and nursed him to the 300 as long as I could. The last 200 was up to him to win the race and I needed him to shake them off. He showed a lot of courage. He was overdue for a group 1. It was a quality race and he’s done it.”
Dave The King races for Gary Player, Larry Nestadt, Lindsay Ralphs and Kathryn Ralphs and Mike said: “I am especially happy for my mates Lindsay and Larry and well done to Mr Player who won the previous race too (with Double Grand Slam).
Dave The King gave Ascot Stud’s Galileo stallion, Global View, his first Grade 1 succces. He was bred from the mare Touche, by Jet Master.