Guest Column: Animal Scalping Magic

Guest Column: Animal Scalping Magic

3 April, 2013
– Lisa Barrett

Animal Kingdom. Image: AFP

It was a feast of racing during the long Easter weekend, and as always KZN breds lit up the racing stage, not only here in South Africa, but in the faraway desert kingdom of Dubai at racing’s greatest festival, the Dubai World Cup.

South Africa’s champion trainer, Mike de Kock had a cracking weekend at Meydan, saddling two winners on the night; Soft Falling Rain, the multiple Group winning son of National Assembly in the Godolphin Mile (Gr.2), and Shea Shea in a new course record in the Al Quoz Sprint (Gr.1).

As if that wasn’t enough confirmation not only of the depth of talent in South Africa, another of De Kock’s runners, the KZN Scott Brothers-bred The Apache, managed an impressive second place (and a hefty $1 million cheque) for his efforts in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free (Gr.1). Just reward indeed for all the hard work and brilliant win in the Group 2 Al Rashidiya earlier in the season. Flying up from nowhere in the home stretch, The Apache got into a ding dong duel with stable mate Igugu for the lead, before being overtaken in the dying strides by Godolphin’s champion filly Sajjhaa. De Kock hasn’t yet finalized his plans for The Apache, but early indications are that he could be jetting off to Hong Kong for a crack at the Audemars Piguet Hong Kong Cup (Gr.1), which has a purse of over $1 million on offer.

For many though the highlight of the night was Animal Kingdom who stormed home to victory in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (Gr.1). It was a sublime performance by the jointly owned Team Valor/Arrowfield colt, who hasn’t really fired properly since his Kentucky Derby win in 2011. Shaking off injury, Animal Kingdom was prepared to perfection by English born trainer Graham Motion, and after Monterosso’s sudden withdrawal, became the favourite to win the big race on Saturday evening, and he didn’t disappoint. The decision to let Rosario have another crack on Animal Kingdom was controversial, especially after the poor ride aboard the colt earlier in the month in Florida. However, after Saturday’s performance, the critics were silenced, as Rosario rode Animal Kingdom to perfection in a patient, tactical manner throughout the race, saving the blinding acceleration for the home straight. Originally scheduled to go to stud after this, there is talk now that Animal Kingdom might be aimed at Royal Ascot in June, where a meeting with Aussie sensation Black Caviar is a possibility.

Based on their performances on Saturday night, its abundantly clear that the world can no longer sit back and ignore the vast pool of talent that this country. One can only hope that our own local hero, The Apache can continue to fly the KZN racing and breeding flag high wherever he may run.

Lisa Barrett
– Guest Writer

“Lisa Barrett”, her psuedonym, currently works at a stud farm in the KZN Midlands. She is absolutely and totally crazy about horses and every aspect of them. She is fascinated by every aspect of the racehorse business, especially pedigrees and would like to one day write a book on her favourite sire!

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