John Bovington Memorial Criterion Stakes Gr3
(Photo : Daily Mail)
“IMBONGI takes England’s biggest race of the weekend”
All week, Mike de Kock has been tipping Imbongi as the horse who thrived most since his string arrived in the UK. When Imbongi had done and dusted the Criterion Stakes (Gr.3) in facile fashion his pilot, Kevin Shea dismounted with the announcement that this was just the beginning. He felt the horse could step up from here, and while he was non-committal about where he would go in the next month or so, knowing Mike de Kock, he’s likely to make the progression to Group 2 level, and then cast his eyes towards something like the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Gr.1) at Ascot in September.
Like so many others in Mike de Kock’s yard, Imbongi really battled in Dubai, and was nowhere near his best, but Saturday he put all the ghosts away, and his form at last, approached the spectacles South African racegoers became accustomed to in his dual Guineas sagas and his demolition of four Grade One winners, including Horse of The Year, Pocket Power, in last year’s Drill Hall Stakes (Gr.2).
Don’t forget though, this was a horse that was turned out of the ring unsold at the Emperor’s Palace Ready To Run, and it took a man of Ronnie Napier’s decades in racing to recognise his potential on a frosty Saturday morning at the Summerhill gallops. So much for the unwanted child!
P.S. There was a double celebration in this one. Imbongi’s was the first winner from Sheikh Mohammed’s newly acquired Abingden Place yard, Mike’s English headquarters. If it weren’t for the Sheikh’s enterprise and his love of the game, we’d not’ve been in England.
Watch the John Bovington Memorial Criterion Stakes (Gr3)