Retirement for Gee Racing Champion

Kochka retires from racing

Kochka wins the Gr1 Premier's Champion Stakes at Greyville 13-07-27

Kochka wins the 2013 Gr1 Premier’s Champion Stakes

Alyson and Kevin Wright’s Gee Racing have announced the retirement of their juvenile champion, Kochka, posting the news on Facebook earlier this week, “Sad to say that our Champion KOCHKA will not be making a return to the race track but so looking forward to having him at home and seeing what he has to offer as a show jumper.”

Kochka was bred by Danika Stud. By Black Minnaloushe out of the Elliodor mare, Little Strike, Kochka was a R160 000 purchase from 2012 CTS Book 2 sale. In his 2yo season, Kochka bounced from his debut win, straight to the Gr1 Tsogo Sun Gold Medallion, finishing 4th behind Captain Of All. He then lined up for the Gr1 Golden Horseshoe on July day 2013, finishing an agonising nose second to Forest Indigo, but exacting his revenge in the Premier’s Champion Stakes on Gold Cup day, delivering a first Gr1 success for his stable. His juvenile efforts were enough to secure him awards across the board in KZN and the Cape as well as a well-deserved Equus Champion 2yo for 2013.

Injury set-back

Conditioner Alyson Wright confirms that Kochka hurt his tendon after his 2yo career, but had been rested for a year. The time off did the trick and he made a successful return to the track reappearing as a 4yo and clocking 5 starts for the season, for a win and 3 places, including finishing 1.75 lengths behind Futura in a 1600m Pinnacle Stakes, 3 lengths off Punta Arenas in the 2015 Gr3 Cup Trial and only a little over 3 lengths off Easy Lover in the Listed Canon Business Centre Handicap on July day 2015.

Alyson Wright (credit: hamishNIVENPhotography)

“We didn’t want to take the risk” – Alyson Wright (credit: hamishNIVENPhotography)

“Then his other tendon came up,” Alyson continues, “so we rested him again for a year. We brought him back in about June and he was just about ready to run when that tendon started to show a bit of heat. He hasn’t actually bowed it – if you didn’t know it was there, you wouldn’t even see it, but we know it’s the start, so we’d rather just take him out – sad as that is. He’s never been unsound, but we didn’t want to run him and take the risk, so we decided to retire him.


Somewhat unusually, Kochka has retired with his trainers, Alyson and Kevin. Alyson explains, “John Jones who owned him has very kindly given him to me to jump. We live in Kirtlington, which is an equestrian estate and Kochka went home on the weekend. John actually lives on the estate and absolutely loves this horse, so he will be visiting him and feeding him his carrots and apples! We’ll just start him off and see how he goes, but he’s so athletic. He’s out of an Elliodor mare, which is a very good jumping line and he’s clever, so hopefully he’ll learn quickly. It’s a bit sad to lose him from the track, but at least we’ll be able to see him in the competition ring instead.” Kochka will be joining another Gee stable graduate in the rather glamorous-looking and well-bred Warcraft (who is also out of an Elliodor mare and happens to be a half brother to Abashiri!).

Kochka’s very charming owner, John Jones shared a few of his memories. “I never ever realised just what a big deal a Gr1 win was – I’d only been in the racing game for 6 or 7 years and when he had his big win, I got messages from around the world. People still regularly come up to me at the course and ask where’s Kochka and how’s he doing. It’s nice to know people genuinely care about the horse. That’s really why I got into racing – the love of horses. I don’t actually like racing and don’t even go all that much any more,” he confesses. “I got into racing because of Alyson. I’d bought a Warmblood and Alyson helped me break it in. When they got started, I supported them and ended up owing 19 at one stage.”


Champion 2yo Colt - Kochka

Proud moment – the Kochka connections at the Equus Awards

“Kochka is very special. I fell in love with him the minute I saw him. Kevin is an absolute perfectionist – he knows his horses and wasn’t all that keen because Kochka doesn’t have perfect legs. He actually had a big bandage on his knee at the time and Nicky Bartlett showed us the X-rays and they were fine, so we took a chance and look how it’s turned out.”

“Nicky loved him as well and was so excited when he won Champion 2yo. He’s quite a character – even after we gelded him, he thought he was a stallion. He never quite relaxed.”

“When he won, we were over the moon. It was certainly my first Gr1 and the Wrights’. Shortly afterwards when he did the tendon in training, we debated whether we should retire him then or not. We gave him nearly a year off and brought him back and he came on quickly and won second time out. I can still remember Deez Dyanand’s commentary saying it sent cold shivers up your back.”

“When he did the other tendon, I said we’ve got to retire him now, but Kevin was of the opinion that he was such a good horse that we shouldn’t give up. So we gave him another year off and he came back and was doing fantastically well – in fact he was due to run soon – and then Kevin noticed heat in the tendon again. We were not prepared to take a risk, so made the decision to retire him,” he confirms.

Where to from here?

Kochka in retirement (photo supplied)

Kochka in retirement (photo supplied)

Regarding to the next phase of Kochka’s career John says, “Alyson often takes horses to Kirtlington, so I said fine, she can have him and try and jump him and see how he goes. I know he’s got a very good home. Finding good homes after racing is always the biggest worry and it’s getting harder – it’s one of the reasons I’m sort of getting out. Having them as pets will bankrupt you, plus they need the exercise, so it’s difficult. They’re top sportsmen and you can’t just put them out to pasture – they don’t like it at all. Most of the jumpers we see around are ex racehorses and they seem to thrive on competition. I suppose once you’re a sportsman, whether you’re a person or an animal, you enjoy it.”

Asked whether he hadn’t considered keeping Kochka to ride himself, he laughs. “I used to ride as a youngster, but I’m getting a bit old for it now – I don’t bounce as well as I used to! I still enjoy the horses though – I think most owners really enjoy their horses and that’s why I got into racing, anyway. I used to go there 4 or 5 times a week in the mornings to feed them carrots. My horses only eat Woolworths carrots which everyone teases me about, but I took them cheap ones one day and they wouldn’t eat them! Kevin and Alyson aren’t far from me, so I can still walk up and give him carrots.”

Have Your Say - *Please Use Your Name & Surname

Comments Policy
The Sporting Post encourages readers to comment in the spirit of enlightening the topic being discussed, to add opinions or correct errors. All posts are accepted on the condition that the Sporting Post can at any time alter, correct or remove comments, either partially or entirely.

All posters are required to post under their actual name and surname – no anonymous posts or use of pseudonyms will be accepted. You can adjust your display name on your account page or to send corrections privately to the EditorThe Sporting Post will not publish comments submitted anonymously or under pseudonyms.

Please note that the views that are published are not necessarily those of the Sporting Post.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments



Popular Posts