Mike De Kock trains his 3000th winner
Janoobi`s win in the Betting World Gauteng Guineas give the legendary Mike De Kock his 3000th career winner
Mike Moon www.tabnews.co.za
Master trainer Mike de Kock landed his 3,000th career winner when Janoobi snatched victory in the Betting World Gauteng Guineas at Turffontein on Saturday.
South Africa’s greatest thoroughbred conditioner of modern times started the day needing three more wins to reach the magic mark – though the man himself was far away in Dubai at the Super Saturday meeting, where he saddled a clutch of horses.
The glory back home was soaked up by the De Kock stable workers, with son and assistant trainer Matthew saddling up and leading in the horses. The yard grooms turned the big Guineas Day meeting into a memorable and colourful celebration with songs and chants as Janoobi and jockey Piere Strydom walked into the winner’ circle.
Earlier, De Kock-trained Rafeef was given a superb ride by Callan Murray as he took honours in the R400,000 Grade 2 Hawaii Stakes. One race later, Nother Russia – a daughter of Mother Russia, one of De Kock’s heroines of the past – produced a spectacular performance from the widest draw in a 15-horse field to win the Grade 3 Acacia Handicap over 1600m. The filly was chased up by Craig Zackey from last position on the bend, with 800m to go, to grab the prize by a nostril in the final stride.
That made it No 2,999.
The stable narrowly missed out on a straight triple and the 3,000 when Al Hawraa and Orchid Island ran second and third behind current champion trainer Sean Tarry’s filly Smiling Blue Eyes in the Wilgerbosdrift Gauteng Fillies Guineas.
But the wait for the big 3K wasn’t to be more than 35 minutes. The inimitable Strydom – who himself notched up 5,000 winners last year – kept Janoobi rolling from pillar to post over the 1600m to deliver a magic moment in South African horse racing history.
The 2017 running of the R1-million Gauteng Guineas – the first leg of the Triple Crown – saw a very open contest for the punters, with every one of the nine starters apprently having some sort of a chance.
Janoobi and his stable companion Heavenly Blue drifted in the on-course betting, from 9-2 to 11-2 and 33-10 to 9-2 respectively, as betting money poured onto the Tarry-trained Al Sahem, who came in from 4-1 to 28-10 favouritism. Al Sahem’s stablemate, Furiosa, also fell out of favour in the market, starting at 6-1.
From the off, Janoobi bustled straight to the head of affairs, going some four lengths clear by the midway point of the race. Chilli Con Carne (28-1) led the pursuers, with Doosra (9-1), Unagi (18-1) and Al Sahem next best.
In the straight, the field made a beeline for the outside rail, where the going has proven to be far quicker during the current wet spell on the Highveld. Strydom kept Janoobi’s head in front as the challenges came.
Al Sahem emerged as the biggest threat, inching closer to the lead as the horses hurtled towards the line. In the end, Janoobi got the decision by 0.20 lengths – the proverbial nose – but the De Kock team wasn’t exactly making precise measurements as they popped champagne corks.
Heavenly Blue was a creditable third and might go on to do well in the next two legs of the Triple Crown, the Classic over 1800m and the Derby over 2450m, over next two months.
It will be interesting to see if Janoobi gives the Triple Crown bonus a shot. His breeding suggests he might make at least 1800m, though his hard-pulling penchant might not be appropriate.