IN winning Saturday’s Gr1 HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes over 1600m at Turffontein, Soqrat (AUS) showed that he could well become the dominant miler in South Africa over the next few years.
He’ll have to do it the Legal Eagle-way, with just a few weight-for-age appearances a year, but considering his depth of talent, and the fact that he’s getting better, a career of selected races will delight his many fans, and punters.
Mathew de Kock said on Sunday morning: “Yes, the weight-for-age contests will obviously be the most suitable, so we’ll be looking next at the Gr1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge over 1600m and then at the Champions Cup over 1800m, but nothing is cast in stone, we will discuss Soqrat’s next races with Sheikh Hamdan.
“I think Soqrat will see out 2000m so the Champions Challenge is a possibility, though we wouldn’t want to race him and Hawwaam together and also we may want to stick to races up to 1800m for now.”
Jockey Randall Simons rode a cool race on Soqrat, because his three-year-old counterpart, Cirillo, laid down a clever challenge under apprentice Luke Ferraris.
On a day where jockeys were hitting the brakes early, Soqrat found himself in front after a few 100m, just ambling along, but Ferraris saw an opportunity, took Cirillo to the front and stepped on the pedal.
The race developed into a two-cornered contest over the last 350m and Cirillo fought his more fancied rival in determined fashion, but with 100m to go Simons looked left, right and back and had matters in control. Soqrat had just under a length in hand, winning well from his game challenger, with Unagi three lengths back in third and Tilbury Fort doing his best work late for fourth.
Simons commented: “I was a little disappointed to have lost the Gr2 Hawaii Stakes last time, but he was only beaten half a length needing the run on his return from Cape Town. Today he proved that he’s a champion, he’s the new champion!”
Soqrat has won five of nine starts and over R2,5-million in stakes. A home-bred, he is by Darley’s stallion Epaulette, a dual Gr1 winner and 1400m specialist in Australia, from a sprinting mare by Hussonet.