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De Kock MR Appeal – They Must Be Joking!

'The press release came across as a futile attempt to embarrass Mike de Kock' - Robert Bloomberg

The recent unsuccesful appeal by trainer Mike de Kock for a higher merit rating for debut winner Pietro Mascagni has evoked some puzzlement amongst the connections. We asked an expert for his opinion.

Mike de Kock

Mike de Kock – appeal for high rating failed

Whilst every Appeal Board is entitled to their own opinion, it is quite frankly beyond me how they could overrule the De Kock appeal and which I will amplify on, writes Robert Bloomberg.

Read the Pietro Mascagni press release

The guidelines ‘cap’ a 3yo Maiden winner in a major centre at an MR78, but that is a nett not a gross rating. The winner and subject of the appeal, Pietro Mascagni, won on 31 October 2017 over 1160m which afforded him a WFA allowance of 11lbs. Accordingly, he had a maximum allowable “cap” of MR89 gross (78 + 11).

The 4th horse, King of the Delta, which I believe should have been used as the line horse, had a rating of MR77.

He was beaten by 9L (18lbs). If you use him solely as the criteria, then you have the winner running to a 95. Even if you use him off his subsequently reduced rating of 71, he runs to an 89. Whichever way you look at the race, he should have been rated either an 89 in my opinion, or an 88 as internationally renowned handicapper Mike Wanklin and handicapping expert, Tony Mincione, both believe. The 2nd horse, Square the Circle and 3rd placed, Star of Joburg, are much better than the handicappers believe.

King Of Delta ran again on Saturday conclusively proving the incorrect decision of the handicappers and the panel. I say this because he now raced off his adjusted rating of 71 and ran 2nd beaten 2.1L by a very good debutante, Dhabyaan, also trained by De Kock with the 3rd horse beaten 5.4L. Due to the folly of not using him as the line horse when Pietro Mascagni won, they should only have made Dhabyaan a 76 instead of an 82 which he should be.

However, the handicappers stunningly, promptly upped King of the Delta to a 74 (77-71-74 in 12 days) on his run to Yamoto 4 runs ago on the 5th September (I’m not sure how you can do that, but anyway) and made Dhabyaan an 81. The handicappers know full well that Dhabyaan is no 76 and had to find a way out to raise him, but in so doing have compounded their error and contradicted their rating of Pietro Mascagni and made the appeal panel look like proper Charlie’s.

Robert Bloomberg

Robert Bloomberg – slams NHA

I ask you this – if Dhabyaan is an MR81 having beaten King of the Delta by just over 2L, what should Pietro Mascagni be having beaten the same horse by 9L?

Not an MR79 I can promise you that! He is unbelievably rated 2lbs inferior to his fellow inmate! In simple mathematical terms, Pietro Mascagni ran to a 95 (77 + 18). He beat King of the Delta by 7L (14lbs) further than Dhabyaan, now an official MR81. Pietro Mascagni should therefore be rated 14lbs superior (81 + 14 = 95) which is what he ran to. Having said that, clearly in reality there cannot be that much between them in true ability, but then Dhabyaan is obviously much better than his rating given. To those that punt, I would strongly suggest you follow Pietro Mascagni next time you see him in a handicap off a 79 rating (and Dhabyaan as well off an 81 for that matter). I know a few appeal panel members who will be wagering the rent money!

Justin Vermaak who sat on the appeal, has openly stated that De Kock had “hidden agendas.” Is that seriously what you call a trainer who is asking for a higher rating – not lower – based purely on what the horse achieved and should actually be rating wise – merely because he wanted run the horse in the Dingaans as that he is how highly he rates him?

Perhaps it’s actually members of the appeal panel that should be asked whether they in fact are the ones with “hidden agendas!”

Taking a step back for a moment, I had a few weeks ago sat on an appeal brought by trainer Eric Sands. The handicappers had made the horse, The Sun Also Rises, an MR83 on one run even though he had twice run to a 72. We erred on the side of caution and went 77 even though we believed him to be a 72 as we did not want to do the opposite to what the handicappers had done by giving him his lowest rating as opposed to them rating him on his highest rating. The horse ran on Thursday finishing 2nd and ran to a 72 again. After the Sands appeal and when asked by Arnold Hyde who convened the hearing whether we should issue a press release and whether I could assist in the drafting thereof, I stated that I did not believe it necessary as firstly these matters were not of real interest and with respect, understanding to the majority of the public and secondly that there was no need to embarrass the handicappers with press releases relating to any merit rating appeals. The panel which included Vermaak concurred with my sentiments.

However, the NHA couldn’t wait to send out a disingenuous and opportunistic press release after overruling the De Kock appeal using this as a means to falsely and wrongly criticise the guidelines to justify their, in my opinion, flawed and deplorable decision.

The appeal panel has the winner running to a 68 nett (79 – 11). What has that crazy rating have to do with the guidelines I ask you with tears in my eyes!

The press release also came across as a futile attempt to embarrass de Kock and to laud the handicappers for their unfortunate decision brought about by the “terrible” guidelines that were unfairly handcuffing them. Believe me, I know full well who was behind the drafting/wording of that press release – and so does he – and it wasn’t Arnold Hyde.


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9 comments on “De Kock MR Appeal – They Must Be Joking!

  1. Barry Irwin says:

    Mr. Bloomberg is correct, of course. But beyond that capping of ratings makes no sense at all.

  2. Anthony says:

    If de Kock was successful and the appeal board sided with him, then my question is what would the horses behind Pietro Mascagni be rated and would their connections not object to that rating? Vicious circle, no?

  3. Steve Reid says:

    Let the handicappers explain Noble Secret’s MR.

    20170720 VAL (G) MJPM 1200 A R Simons (N/A) 60 5-6 1 9.25 13/20 17/20 *AQUILA WARRIOR (60)

    Beat a MR62 by 9.25l on debut. Rated a 88.

  4. Basil Nelson says:

    This is a typical example of how ridiculous the MR system is and will always be.
    Please allow a trainer to commence a horses racing career, in the interest of the horse and the owners, when they are ready for racing. If they are precocious and come out early they receive the wrath of the handicapper but if they are slow developers they attract MR’s which do not qualify them for 3yr old classics or feature races. I believe this is indicative of what has happened in this case. If the Committee’s reasoning was that the horse should have been raced earlier to attract a higher MR rating to qualify , I am then of the opinion that they do not act in the interest of the thoroughbred and it’s owners. Let us also not forget that juvenile races are run mainly over sprint distances whereas the 3yr old classics etc are run over a minimum of 1600 metres. Genetically , these are two different horses unless they are of the highest calibre having sprinting and middle distance abilities.
    Finally, as previously stated I would hate to be a handicapper as it is definitely not a perfect science as horses are not robots, resulting in inconsistent performances
    from draws , pace in the race, going of the day etc. As previously stated , is handicapping done purely on distances between horses or is it done by the trained and experienced eye of the handicapper when assessing the ability of a horse.
    No wonder statements , which I will not quote, were made by Michael Azzie and notoriously by Justin Snaith ( exactly the opposite to what Mike de Kock is appealing) create food for thought.
    We spend so much time in the boardroom because of the complicated basics that we have adopted instead of being outdoors and enjoying the sport that we love so much.

  5. Albert X says:

    And so says the man who wears a cap for the NHRA when he wants to or is paid to wear it.

    The hypocracy is palpable.

    Robert Bloomberg is on the NHRA rules committee. He is employed by the NHRA to sit in inquiries and appeals.

    I do not have much good to say about the NHRA and I say it openly. The difference between me and Robert Bloomberg is that I do not take a fee from the NHRA and I do not sit on its various committees and boards. I believe that he has brought the name of the NHRA into further disrepute. If he is unhappy then he should use his influence to change the rules and not to attack the NHRA in public. Any respectable organisation would not allow one of its own senior people to publicly belittle it and its members.

    Looking at what Bloomberg has said and done in the past, he will argue anyones case as long as they pay his fee. In my opinion, the only person who has a hidden agenda is Robert Bloomberg. Let me take a stab at the hidden agenda. Bloomberg must be jealous of Justin Vermaak. Bloomberg must fear that his influence in horse racing is wanin. He attacks Justin Vermaak for no reason at all. It has nothing to do with the MR finding of the appeal board. He has shown no humility.

    1. Robert Bloomberg says:

      Albert X, as a rule I normally do not reply to cowardly faceless people. it is however quite apt that your profile pic is that of a cat as clearly it indicates that you must be Puss in Boots!

      For the record, I am not employed by the NHA in any capacity, nor am I paid a fee by them. I do not sit on any Inquiries or Appeals for them either.

      I represent the owners and not the NHA on the NHA Rules Committee and am appointed by the Racing Association and not the NHA. I am not remunerated, nor paid a fee by either and act gratuitously in the interests of the racing industry.

      Further, I was nominated by the NHA to the Merit Rating Appeal Panel to again assist the racing industry. I am not remunerated, nor paid a fee in respect thereof either.

      I trust that clarifies, your disingenuous, defamatory and quite frankly pathetic comments and would pose the question as to what you have ever done for the horseracing industry?

  6. Graham Hurlstone-Jones says:

    I would just like to state that all information is interesting to the general public ( punter ), even more so when it comes to MR. This is exactly the type of information that will allow us to grow in the nuances of MR and its ongoing influences on racing especially with every other P6 carrying over. All information is good information however trivial. I look forward to anything you write but just send it out there. Saving face is not our problem but it is one of them.

  7. Pmb says:

    And his rating now is?
    Horse he beat last time by a small margin runs 3l third? What’s that rating?
    We can all be wrong of course, and a counter argument is always good to be had,but an arrogant deriding of others opinions is rarely fruitful and deserving of a bit of kharma 🙂

  8. Kim Jong-un says:

    I would love to know what the Handicapper is going to do with EASTERN PEARL (C Spies) J Penny – Rated a 50 – 13.50 kg out at the weights – Runs 2nd – Obviosly loved the extra distance – But due to the lack of these races they might as well retire him tomorrow .

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