Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum
(Summerhill Sires Brochure 2008/2009)
Those that know him, will have recognised that at the end of last season, IMBONGI was just not himself. With two Guineas under his belt, and then two successive defeats by Horse of the Year, POCKET POWER, his last run in the Champion’s Cup lacked his usual lustre, yet if you were present at the ringside during the preliminaries you would have seen one “dog-tired” horse.
Last evening, before an international audience of television viewers, we saw a rejuvenated, bigger and more mature IMBONGI, taking on an international field at a distance short of his best.
Drawn on the rank outside of a quality field, his pilot Kevin Shea had no choice but to drop him out, in his attempt to spare a horse who hadn’t run since the end of last season.
An electrifying stretch run, unleashed with barely 300 metres to go, and unaided by a single crack of the whip until well inside the last furlong, brought him to within a nose of multiple Graded Stakes winner, HATTA FORT, who paraded as the odds-on favourite in Godolphin’s fabled blue silks.
The portents are good, and IMBONGI’s new owner, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, will have been thrilled with his new charge’s bold showing. Just as thrilled though, were the old firm of Mike de Kock, Ronnie Napier, Owen Leibbrandt, Michael Fleischer and Barry Clements, who landed one of history’s great bargains, when they bought into him one misty Saturday morning on the Summerhill gallops.
Goes to show, you must always turn up in life – you’ll never know the rainbow’s end otherwise.