South Africa's globetrotting trainer extraordinaire, Mike de Kock, expected something very unusual and enriching during his week in the USA preparing Mubtaahij for the 2015 Kentucky Derby. Mike has travelled around the world and has trained Group winners in seven countries but the hype, sheer excitement and huge media attention that surrounded the De Kock camp and the travelling Mubtaahij, truly astounded our jet-setting racing ambassador.
An Irish-bred, Dubai-owned, South African-trained horse, Mubtaahij was something most unusual for Kentucky Derby fans this year and he became a favourite among US racing lovers, who took to the social media platforms in appreciation.
Mike's twitter account (@mdkracing) grew to 1360 followers within two weeks of being in the USA... here are some of their most recent comments:
Mubtaahij will be staying on in the USA to be aimed at the third leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes to be run over 2400m on 6 June at Belmont Park in New York, Mike de Kock confirmed on Monday afternoon.
This is a change from the original plan to ship Mubtaahij to the UK and Mike commented: "After Saturday's Kentucky Derby we had some time to reflect on his performance. We watched the race replay, spoke to some people and got opinion. Mubtaahij ran a decent race and his owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum agreed that his run was good enough to keep him here for a tilt at the Belmont."
Mike said that Mubtaahij would remain at Churchill Downs for a few more days until all the necessary administrative arrangements had been made, including US insurances required. He said: "We will send Mubtaahij up to Belmont Park and Mathew de Kock will stay on with Trevor Brown and Lisa Moncrieff to prepare him for the Belmont Stakes.
"Going for the Preakness with Mubtaahij will be hard. He will be up against the first three past the post in the Derby, the race is two weeks away and is run over 100m shorter than the Derby. The Belmont Stakes suits us best. Mubtaahij will see out the 2400m and we have more than a month to prepare him. Mubtaahij will be more settled and he'll be better for it, he'll come on from his Derby run," confirmed De Kock.
Now then, on to Belmont Park!
Extracts from Mike de Kock Racing / Kentucky Derby (p)