eagle mountain and kevin sheaEagle Mountain with Kevin Shea aboard
(AP Photo)

The legend surrounding South African trainer Mike de Kock continues to grow and a brilliant gallop by Eagle Mountain to land yesterday’s HK$20 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup is just the latest chapter in a story that is far from over. Mike de Kock has won two editions of the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup with Irridescence and Archipenko and has now claimed his first December international with a horse rated by the man himself as better than any of his recent stars.

Eagle Mountain, ran out a comfortable winner of Hong Kong’s richest race under the guidance of Kevin Shea, scoring by 1-1/4 lengths from French raider Balius. Linngari, trained at Newmarket by Sir Michael Stoute and on his third sortie to Sha Tin, ran third and odds-on favourite Viva Pataca a luckless fourth.

Mike de Kock had been bullish about Eagle Mountain all week, “I thought coming into this race that he was as good as Archipenko and as good as Sun Classique, or better, so that gave us a very good pointer to where he was,” said Mike de Kock. “But the way he’s improving, he’s probably better than they are. I can say with hindsight that we were very confident, because the most important thing was that everything had gone well since we got here. The key thing with travelling horses is that when they get to their destination, they put their head in the manger, and that’s what this horse did.”

Mike de Kock agreed with the suggestion that after his Breeders’ Cup Turf second, and backing it up with yesterday’s huge win, Eagle Mountain is a horse that can and will compete on any stage. Eagle Mountain will now return to Dubai and be set for the “Super Thursday” meeting in early March. “After that, we’ll decide which way to go - to the 1800m race or the 2400,” he said.

The races under consideration are two of the richest turf races in the world (each worth US$5 million) - the Dubai Duty Free (1,777m) or the Dubai Sheema Classic (2,400m) on World Cup night.

(edited article by Murray Bell from ANZ Bloodstock News)