Variety Club won the Group 2 Godolphin Mile on Dubai World Cup night in March and went on to claim his first international Grade 1 scalp in the Champions Mile at Sha Tin in May.
Plans to run in the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp on 5 October and the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita on 1 November have also been shelved. But the top South African horseman still has hopes for HKIR success with Vercingetorix, who finished second in the Grade 1 Dubai Duty Free before finishing third in the Grade 1 QEII Cup at Sha Tin.
De Kock spoke to the press at Sha Tin yesterday:
“It hasn’t been straightforward in training with Variety Club. He travelled very badly back to England (after the Champions Mile), got very aggressive on the flight and had to be sedated a number of times. He lost a lot of weight. So we had to stop training him and build him up from scratch again, really. It’s obviously very disappointing but we need to put the welfare of the horse first.”
“Because of his behaviour it’s decision time for his owner Markus Jooste. Does he retire and go to stud, or should we give him a proper rest and have another go at next year’s season? This is not a decision he wants to make in a hurry.”
De Kock believes he has a chance at International Group 1 glory with Vercingetorix, though.
De Kock continued: “Vercingetorix also didn’t travel back well but he’s done very well in England. He’s looking fantastic and I would certainly like to bring him across (for the Longines Hong Kong International Raceday on 14 December), providing training goes well.
“If we do, we’d probably have to give him a trial in Hong Kong (on the trial day, 23 November). That’s something I’d have to discuss with Sheikh Mohammed (bin Khalifa Al Maktoum) but I’m very keen to bring Vercingetorix. He ran a good third (in the QEII Cup in April) and was not quite at his best after a hard season in Dubai.”
Extract from Tab News