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Picture: Najem Suhail (Starspangledbanner) is the first winner in Mike de Kock’s Australian silks (Suppled).

Jockey Jye Mcneil, riding Najem Suhail, conjured visions of King Arthur and his stallion Hengreon swooping down on the Holy Grail when he won a Benchmark 70 handicap over 1200m at Sale Racecourse in Victoria, Australia, Sunday.

Najem Suhail raced into the Sale home bend in the centre, and in front, and then made a spirited and purposeful dash to the winning post, getting there 3.25-lengths clear. This was a first Australian winner in his own silks for Mike de Kock, who races Najem Suhail in partnership with a sizeable group of young Dubai-based owners assembled by Mohammad Mardood for the Blue Stables Syndicate.

In effect, Mike’s silks are white with a prominent red maltese cross – in Australia those are taken and Mike decided to race in red silks with a white maltese cross, just as easy to spot and hopefully to be seen in bigger races soon.

Mathew de Kock, who trains Najem Suhail alongside Robbie Griffiths, commented: “Najem Suhail needed his first two runs here, he wasn’t far off in two prep sprints recently and made the anticipated improvement into this contest. His next run will be on 5 November, the last Saturday of the Melbourne Cup Carnival week. Today’s race was a qualifier for a sprint up the straight so by winning he automatically qualifies.

“This horse has been doing really well in Australia and it’s great to have had a winner for my Dad in his silks. This was a very good performance in 1:08:57, just splits of a second outside the 2009 track record of 1:08:45, very fast. If he continues in this manner we’ll have fun with him.”

Najem Suhail was originally bought for Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum at the Melbourne Premier Sale. He won his first start in South Africa and then finished second to stablemate Mount Pleasant in the G2 SA Nursery, before being shipped to Dubai. But with all the quarantine protocols he got there late for the 2021 Carnival and never raced, and then earlier this year he was a week away from running in January but he had an injury, missing two years of racing.


However, at five years of age he still has plenty to come and Mike de Kock commented: “This is good exposure for South African racing form, I am chuffed. Sheikh Mohammed gave Najem Suhail to Mohammed Khaleel in Dubai and we in turn now lease it from Khaleel. Thanks to him and Mohammed Mardood, who put the syndicate of youngsters together.

“Najem Suhail is a horse we’ve always believed in. We decided to ship him off to Australia rather than leave him in the Dubai desert for yet another year, so this was a good result all-round for everyone.  Ultimately, we’d like to send him back to Dubai for the 2023 Carnival. He was always a top horse, just took his time to adapt in Australia.”

Mardood noted: “All of the young owners saw Najem Suhail when he was based in Dubai. They witnessed his capabilities as a top horse and when the opportunity came for them to secure shares, they all jumped and wanted a part of his success as international owners via Blue Stables Syndicate.”

Najem Suhail is an entire by Starspangledbanner out of Sophie’s First, raised at Gilgai Farm, Nagambie.