mike de kock and zirconeum
mike de kock and zirconeum

Mike de Kock

(Photo : Tab Online/Phumelela/Vodacom Durban July)

“Zirconeum, Bouquet-Garni and Forest Path - The MDK Attack”

The 2009 renewal of the Vodacom Durban July “will be fought out by the top six horses in the betting and the rest will live hoping and probably die hoping” so believes trainer Mike de Kock who has three three-year-olds in the race, and none of them are in the top six in the betting.

David Thiselton writes that Mike de Kock reports all three of his runners to be very well but lamented his bad luck with the draws.

Zirconeum, a Jallad filly, is drawn 19 and will be ridden by Anthony Delpech.

Bouquet-Garni, a Strike Smartly gelding out of a Fort Wood mare, is drawn 14 and will be ridden by MJ Byleveld.

Forest Path, a Fort Wood gelding, is drawn 20 and will be ridden by Warren Kennedy.

Interestingly, all three of Mike de Kock’s charges are Grade 1 winners.

There are only six other Grade 1 winners in the field of 20, Pocket Power, Our Giant, Buy And Sell, Smart Banker, Big City Life and Outcome.

His charges’ Grade 1 status would normally be enough for them to be in with a good chance but all three, even without their draws, have question marks over their heads and are consequently 40-1, 40-1 and 50-1 in the betting respectively.

Mike de Kock rated Zirconeum as probably his best chance.

The question marks about her are that she is firstly 1kg under sufferance on merit rated terms and secondly has a stamina doubt over her head.

She quickened very well in the Champions Challenge but was run out of the placings late on to finish fifth, two lengths behind Smart Banker. The run suggested she hadn’t stayed the tough Turffontein 2000m.

She meets Smart Banker on 4kg worse terms in the July, although the weight for age scale has risen 2kg for three-year-olds since then, effectively making her only 2kg worse off.

She recently won the Grade 1 Woolavington at Greyville easily over just 200m shorter than the July, but that was against her own age and sex.

Kevin Shea was asked immediately after the race whether she would stay the July trip and replied, “You can never tell but being trained by Mike de Kock there is a good chance she will.”

The last filly to win the July was the world class Mike de Kock-trained three-year-old, Ipi Tombe. She was a class above Zirconeum and didn’t have as difficult a draw to contend with. She did face a probable stronger overall field though.

Bouquet-Garni won this season’s Grade 1 SA Derby over 2400m.

Mike de Kock felt there would have to be a fast pace for him to feature. He is a big galloping type and might not have the immediate turn of foot that is an advantage at Greyville.

Forest Path won a Grade 1 over 1400m as a juvenile at Greyville and won the Grade 1 SA Classic over 1800m at Turffontein this year.

However, the Johannesburg three-year-old form is much maligned this season and this horse is also a highly strung type who often wastes energy with his pre-race antics.

Mike de Kock felt that the top three-year-old in the country, the Glen Kotzen-trained Big City Life, had a chance on Saturday.

“He proved himself by finishing just two lengths behind Pocket Power at weight for age terms and with the weight turnaround since he must have a chance.”

He said that all four of his runners in the Grade 1 Golden Horseshoe for two-year-olds over 1400m, Solid Choice, Musir, Mr. Crazy Boy and Storm Vanadiso were very talented.

If he had to side with one it would be Musir.

“He ran off the course last time and might otherwise have beaten Solid Choice.”

However, he warned that he was not discounting Solid Choice.

“If he can overcome his wide draw and get a good position he will be a big runner too.”

He felt that 1400m might still be a touch sharp for Mr. Crazy Boy.

Mike de Kock lamented the wide draw for Gilded Minaret in the Grade 1 Garden Province but said she was very well.

Equal Image always runs well on July day,” he added before saying that the day’s racing was very competitive and the yard was hoping for good runs with all their charges.