De Kock Gets It Right Again

Triple Tiara or Empress Club? Decisions...

Most people make a number of poor decisions in life – perhaps Mike De Kock is the exception.

After celebrating his 60th birthday three weeks ago, the man who has trained more Gr 1 winners than any other SA trainer chalked up another win with Gimme A Nother’s triumph in Saturday’s Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic at Turffontein.

David Mollett writes that one wonders whether a Gr 1 here in South Africa is more important than a win for his son, Mathew, in Australia. Possibly not.

Mike de Kock chats to JP van der Merwe and Johnny Geroudis (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

But that’s more evidence of De Kock’s good decision making. He would have encouraged his son to take the plunge “Down Under” particularly as – at that time – racing here was going through a difficult period.

Then – surely one of the trainers most momentous decisions some 20 years ago – to raid Dubai with his best horses.

He believed they were good enough to more than hold their own against international competition. He was proved right and made many SA owners some real money.

Then – in Saturday’s post-race interview at Turffontein – came another hint at a forthcoming important decision. Gimme A Nother might give the third leg of the Triple Tiara a miss in favour of a a shot at the Gr 1 Empress Club Stakes on the same day.

“I’m not convinced that we’ll go that route (third leg) and the Empress Club is more enticing – she will then be taking on older horses,” he said.

After the Triple Tiara successes of Summer Pudding and Cherry On The Top, one would have thought the third leg – the SA Oaks – would have been (and could still be) a procession.

Just like he targeted another Gr 1 (the Dubai Duty Free) with another top-class female, Ipi Tombe, it’s obvious in his thinking that an Empress Club win is going to look good on her CV. He said he intends to discuss the matter with Jessica and Steven Jell.

Mary Slack – enjoyed a wonderful day in absence of daughter Jessica in the USA (Pic-Candiese Lenferna)

If there’s a worry about Gimme A Nother’s performance on Saturday is that she appeared to hit “a flat spot” 400m from home – something confirmed by both trainer and jockey.

Now if that happens in a race like the Hollywoodbets Durban July, there may not be enough time to get back into top gear. No long straight like Turffontein.

This writer is happy to have not placed an ante-post July bet on the filly after the Gauteng Guineas because we don’t yet know if that’s the route the three year-old will take.

A plus factor is that Terrance Millard always maintained you need a mile and a half horse to win the July – no problem in that regard here.

As far as the SA Classic result is concerned, it looked like a case of Purple Pitcher simply having more tenacity in the drive to the wire.

Sandringham Summit looked set to reward those backers who made him a 63-100 chance, but the favourite just didn’t find that extra gear when it mattered.

Make no mistake – this is a serious setback for Varsfontein and the colt’s other shareholders and they’ll be desperate for their expensive purchase to get back on the winning path.

The camps of Sandringham Summit and Main Defender have kept social media sights buzzing for weeks and it was the latter – on a red-letter day for Tony Peter – who produced the goods with a top-class performance in the Horse Chestnut Stakes.

On The Sporting Post website, Mark Beck says “it’s hats off to Tony.” He’s spot on – four winners on Classic Day, that’s some achievement.

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