Plan Comes Together

Welwitschia blossoms in R300 000 Gr2 Diadem Stakes

Blossoming! Welwitschia strides out to win the Diadem under Kevin Shea (Equine Edge)

Blossoming! Welwitschia strides out to win the Diadem under Kevin Shea (Equine Edge)

A dream team decision to create an earning opportunity for a fit and talented mare, saw the Mike De Kock trained Welwitschia put her best foot forward to beat the locals and win the R300 000 Gr2 Diadem Stakes at Kenilworth on Saturday.

Slack, De Kock, Malherbe and Ramsden are big names in any racing language on earth. When they are combined into one force they tend to produce results. And that is what evolved when it was apparent to the De Kock brains trust that the Gauteng programme offered little opportunity for Welwitschia.

Not having won a race for over a year, the daughter of Oasis Dream arrived in the Cape last Tuesday and was based with the astute Joey Ramsden at his Milnerton yard.

On Saturday she went to post smoothly and came back even better, to beat her seven male rivals in convincing style.

Cap Alright made the pace but was overhauled by Welwitschia at the 300m marker, as Jackson unwound late.

Relaxed. Hamish Niven snapped this shot of Welwitschia in the parade ring before the race (Hamish Niven Photography)

Relaxed. Hamish Niven snapped this shot of Welwitschia in the parade ring before the race (Hamish Niven Photography)

With her opposition caught flatfooted, Welwitschia powered on to win by 1,25 lengths in a time of 71,62 secs.

The Met favourite Jackson caught the eye after a 22 week break under a kind ride from Glen Hatt, when he came through his field to run second, ahead of the pacy Cap Alright.

The 9 to 10 favourite Divine Jet disappointed when going a bit one paced late down the inside rail and ran a modest fourth.

Winning jockey Kevin Shea, who is riding like a young man, said afterwards that he had followed Cap Alright all the way through.

“At the 400m I pulled her off their heels and set her alight at the 350m mark. I knew then it would take a good one to catch us. Mike didn’t have a jockey to ride her and they phoned me for the ride on Monday. I only had two rides on the day, so it was worth the trip in the end,” he said.

Assistant trainer Matthew De Kock confirmed that there weren’t many suitable racing opportunities in Gauteng for Welwitschia.

“I must say thanks to Joey Ramsden for his hospitality and for looking after her. Then of course to owner Mary Slack who buys these wonderful horses and pays the transport bills. I am pleased that the plan came together,” he said.

It appears that one of the chief movers behind the decision to travel from Johannesburg, ‘as there was nothing for her there’, was Jehan Malherbe, who represented Mary Slack at the prizegiving.

He quipped with a smile that ‘Mike and Mary have never been scared to travel’.

When asked by Tellytrack’s Stan Elley if he felt any pressure after recommending the raid, Malherbe joked: “Not at all. If it had gone wrong I would have said it was Matthew’s decision!”

Welwitschia has now won 7 races with 13 places from her 25 starts for stakes of R1 484 125.

Welwitschia is everything that typifies a dream broodmare prospect in the making.

She was bred by Peter and Sally Hunt’s Sparsholt Stud in the heart of Hampshire near the historic City of Winchester in England.

She is by the Green Desert stallion Oasis Dream, a multiple Gr1 winner. Interestingly, Oasis Dream won all his races from 1000m to 1200m including the Gr1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York and the Gr1 July Cup at Newmarket.

Welwitschia is out of the Pursuit Of Love mare, Maid For Romance.

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