The mighty Mike de Kock stable has been idling along for some months, but that is all about to change.
The training maestro had several star horses out injured towards the end of the 2020/21 term and spent much of the KwaZulu-Natal season engaged in jolly television punditry instead of picking up silverware.
Even as the new season got underway, De Kock was in low gear. The great man currently languishes outside the top 10 on the national trainers’ log – though he has become a bit more visible on the Highveld scene in recent weeks.
The comeback gets a major ramp up at Turffontein on Saturday as MdK sends out 13 runners and stands a decent chance of leading in three or four winners.
Topping expectations is Desert Miracle in Race 5, a 1450m Progress Plate for females.
This filly turned many a cynical and jaded head when she hammered a field of juvenile contemporaries in the Grade 1 Golden Slipper on Durban July day at Greyville. The margin of victory in that 1400m stroll was eight lengths and immediately had analysts pencilling in her name for the Classics to come.
That race was 98 days ago and Desert Miracle hasn’t been to the races since, which might have raised suspicions of rustiness if the performance had not been quite so dazzling.
De Kock saddles four of the seven runners in this race and will surely be a busy man in the lead-in area, with another sophomore, Clafoutis, a winner six days ago, likely to turn up there, too. His pair of older girls, Golden Spoon and Tallinn, are also in good form and might pick up minor money.
De Kock has kept yet another promising three-year-old, Lilliana, out of that fray to challenge for the first prize in the following race, a FM75 Handicap. She’ll be at short odds to deliver, being weighted to win by a street and complete a hat-trick with leading jockey Warren Kennedy.
The likely runner-up? Stable mate Fire Flower.
Other De Kock standouts on the day are Forever Mine in Race 2 and Bold Act in Race 9.
Jockey Gavin Lerena is also set for a big day at the Big T.
Apart from partnering aforementioned shoo-in Desert Miracle, he also rides hot contenders Second Base and About To Storm for trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren in the seventh and eight respectively.
4 Magic To The Fore, 2 Chutzpah, 5 Covermeinsunshine, 9 Shezafox
1 Forever Mine, 6 Smorgasbord, 3 Tuscan Winter, 2 Sparkling Water
1 Coral Dawn, 2 Golden Aspen, 8 Queen Theodora, 3 Meadow Beauty
6 Indus Knight, 9 Scottadito, 6 Wokonda, 2 With Pleasure
4 Desert Miracle, 5 Clafoutis, 6 Freedom Of Choice, 1 Golden Spoon
9 Lilliana, 5 Fire Flower, 1 Ancestral Prayer, 3 You Deserve It
1 Second Base, 6 Matterhorn, 8 Marchingontogether, 7 Don’t Look Back
1 About To Storm, 2 Love Lies, 9 Samoa, 4 Space Race
4 Bold Act, 6 Say When, 5 Val D’Orcia, 3 Rock Of Africa
2,6,8,9 x 4 x 5,9 x 1,2,3,6,7,8,9 x 1,2,4,9 x 3,4,5,6,9 (R1120)
1,2 x 6,9 x 4 x 9 x 1,6,8 x 1 x 4,6 (R24)
Best: Race 5 No 11 She’s A Rainbow
Value: Race 3 No 5 Dollar A Dime
Best: Race 2 No 9 Bugsy Malone
Value: Race 5 No 7 Papillion