In accepting his Award for the 2005/6 season, De Kock paid tribute to the team that supports him, special mention being made not just of his assistant trainers and stable staff but also his wife Diane who is integrally involved in the stable and breaks in and pre-trains all the De Kock horses.
The glittering awards ceremony at Johannesburg’s Emperor’s Palace Casino complex was the ‘Night of Nights’ for the South African racing industry and Summerhill was honoured to be presented with the Champion Breeder Trophy for the second year running. 14 staff were on hand to accept the award prompting presenter Graeme Hawkins to quip “one staff member for every mare”. The farm’s resident sire MUHTAFAL sired the Champion 3YO Sprinter: LET’S ROCK ‘N ROLL; the farm also bred the Champion older sprinter (male): NHLAVINI. In an interesting twist, the Summerhill bred VEILED ESSENCE went head-to-head with Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum’s mare CANDY CRITIC for the Champion Female Stayer award. CANDY CRITIC took the honours and we congratulate the Sheikh (who stands Hobb Alwahtan at Summerhill) on this wonderful achievement.
Meanwhile the filly that currently has everyone talking - the Sean Tarry trained sprint sensation NATIONAL COLOUR- won the 3YO sprinter category award as well as sharing the coveted Horse of the Year Award with Brazilian import ILHA DA VITORIA. Martin Talty, manager of the Dubai Racing Club’s International Department remains confident that NATIONAL COLOUR will campaign in Dubai for the 2007 International Carnival, a fact that trainer Sean Tarry confirmed last night is a “distinct possibility”.
Cape-based breeder Mr H F Winterbach - who bred full sisters PERFECT PROMISE and IRRIDESCENCE - won the ‘Breeder, international achievement’ award and also collected the Broodmare of the Year Award. PERFECT PROMISE and IRRIDESCENCE are both Group 1 winners and both campaigned in Dubai this season. Destined to meet on World Cup Night, Irrididescence was, of course, scratched just prior to the start of the USD$5m Gr1 Dubai Duty Free after a freak paddock accident. She made amends a few weeks later when she went on to win the Gr 1 Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong.
One of South Africa’s best known and most successful owner-breeders - Mary Slack - achieved an almost clean sweep of the evening awards, and in exciting news for South African racing, will campaign her first horse in Dubai in 2007 (for the Mike De Kock stable).
Equus awards winners were:
Horse of the year: Ilha Da Vitoria and National Colour (joint-winners)
Champion owner: Mary Slack
Champion trainer: Mike de Kock
Champion jockey: Mark Khan
Champion breeder: Summerhill Stud
Champion stallion: Western Winter
Broodmare of the year: Meretorius
Apprentice of the year: Gavin Lerena
Work rider of the year: Jackson Feni
Champion stayer — male: Elusive Fort
Champion stayer — female: Candy Critic
Champion older middle-distance — male: Equal Image
Champion older middle distance — female: Ilha Da Vitoria
Champion older sprinter — male: Nhlavini
Champion older sprinter — female: Overarching
Champion three-year-old classic horse — male: Eyeofthetiger
Champion three-year-old classic horse — female: Bad Girl Runs
Champion three-year-old sprinter — male: Let’s Rock ‘N Roll
Champion three-year-old sprinter — female: National Colour
Champion two-year-old colt: Fearless and Kildonan
Champion two-year-old filly: Asylum Seeker
Outstanding breeder achievement: Wilgerbosdrift
Outstanding stallion achievement: Count du Bois
Breeder, international achievement: H F Winterbach.