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Dubai Racing Carnival



ruler of the world
ruler of the world

Ruler Of The World / The Guardian (p)


Galileo - Love Me True

Spontaneous groans and relieved smiles took their turns on Dubai’s IMAX theater stage as connections of the 16 horses that will vie for racing’s biggest prize, the $10-million G1 Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airlines, drew post positions in an elaborate ceremony yesterday.

As delighted as any of the participants who drew the most coveted numbers was Harry Herbert, Racing Advisor to Qatari Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani’s Al Shaqab Racing, which yesterday sealed a last moment deal with Coolmore to purchase a 50% interest in G1 Investec Derby winner Ruler Of The World (Ire) (Galileo). From Saturday on, Ruler of the World will race in Al Shaqab’s silks under the partnership of Al Shaqab Racing, John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith. He will continue to be trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by his son, Joseph O’Brien, and will stand at Coolmore upon retirement from racing.

“It’s been a very recent development, just over the last two or three days,” Herbert told PA Sport. “When he retires, Al Shaqab will also receive 50% of his stud value. He is a horse that Sheikh Joaan has always liked and pinpointed him as a horse he’d like to be involved with, especially with this weekend in mind. It’s great to be involved in races like this. Whatever happens on Saturday, it is a long season and he’ll be a great addition. Sheikh Joaan spoke to John Magnier about acquiring a stake and it went from there.”

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News


Kiaran McLaughlin scoops Asiatic Boy and Honour Devil

kiaran mclaughlan (michael nefdt)

Kiaran McLaughlan
(Photos : DRC/Nafips)


Asiatic Boy and Honour Devil are likely heading for the tracks of the US where they will join the stable of Kiaran McLaughlin.


Reigning champion trainer of South Africa, Mike de Kock, saddled both of Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum’s runners to victories in the UAE Derby, with the former taking the event in 2007 and the latter winning a year ago.

Asiatic Boy is coming off a disappointing result in the Dubai World Cup (Gr1), where he finished back in 12th, from the field of 14.

“We will assess options for Asiatic Boy when we see how he has come out of Saturday, as he had a hard race,” Mike de Kock told The Racing Post from Dubai, adding that Asiatic Boy returned from the race coughing. “However, it is quite likely he (Asiatic Boy) and Honour Devil will go to Kiaran McLaughlin for the New York summer season. Asiatic Boy will probably then retire to Argentina and Honour Devil come back, hopefully for a World Cup bid. Saturday was disappointing. Asiatic Boy had won well on Super Thursday, but a slow start and traffic problems in the World Cup soon had him in trouble. He is obviously far better than that and came back coughing and just was not able to show how good he is, which is a shame. But that’s racing, and he will have another big day, I am sure, in America.”

Countdown to Dubai World Cup Extravaganza

Art Of War
(Photo : ERA) 



Sheikh Mohammed’s great racing extravaganza goes to the wire on Saturday evening. The racing programmes of most countries have taken centuries to sculpt, yet the Maktoum Family have managed to put together our sport’s most spectacular showpiece in a matter of a decade. Whatever else the Dubai World Cup meeting may be, it’s the undisputed leader in prize money. Simply put, it is racing’s richest day.

South African-connected horses have developed an enviable record through the exploits mainly of Mike de Kock and his compatriot, Herman Brown Jnr, in the past six or seven seasons. In two of the past three years, Mike de Kock singlehandedly took home a third of the evening’s six prizes, and last year, between him and Herman Brown, they accounted for 50% (or three) of the night’s best entertainment. What that equated to in Rand earnings, we’re not sure, but it must’ve been close to R50 million, a number that would’ve had a number of the world’s top racing countries sneezing.

Whichever way you look at it, what it did signal was the arrival, once and for all, of South Africa’s horses and South Africa’s horsemen on the world racing stage, and we have the exploits of these fellows to thank for the fact that our stock, about to go to the Emperor’s Palace National Yearling Sales, are now firmly in the sights of anyone looking for a good horse at a fair price. South African horses have no peers when it comes to value, simple as that.

Back to Saturday evening’s events, it’s unfortunate Imbongi won’t be lining up for the $5 million Dubai Duty Free, so he’ll be going to Hong Kong for the Group One mile a fresh horse, if that’s any consolation.

However, there’ll still be two graduates of the farm in action at a meeting which commences at 5pm, the first of which is Art Of War, who’ll be doing battle for the country in the $2 million Godolphin Mile. He’s been one of the revelations of the Dubai Carnival, and we’re looking for a bold showing from this nuggety little son of the emerging giant among South African sires, Kahal.

Muhtafal is represented by Gail Fabricius’ Summerhill-bred and raised Paris Perfect, erstwhile Horse Of The Year in the Eastern Cape. It will come as no small boost to that regions racing to know that a horse that started out in Port Elizabeth, has made the cut for the richest race in the world from his new base in Saudi Arabia, from whence we’re hearing good things from his trainer, Neil Bruss, about his prospects. Let’s not forget, he takes on some of the best horses in the world at a distance which is arguably further than his optimum, but you can never get a good man down, especially when his father is Muhtafal.

Whatever the outcome, you can bet on a great show, and we’ll all be rooting like hell from the Summerhill office when the games get underway.

ASIATIC BOY... The Man-Eater

asiatic boy dubai world cup (michael nefdt)Asiatic Boy
(Photos : Mike de Kock Racing/DRC)

Mike de Kock is loaded for the Dubai World Cup”, writes Marcus Hersh for America’s Turf Authority, Daily Racing Form :

“They came whizzing past the Nad Al Sheba grandstand about 6:30 Tuesday morning like this was a Los Angeles freeway. No sooner had trainer Mike de Kock turned his binoculars away from one pair of work horses than the glasses were trained on another pair breaking off down the backstretch. In all, eight Mike de Kock horses breezed in quick succession, and barring misfortune, all will run on the Dubai World Cup program here Saturday night. The filly Front House, one of the favorites in the $5 million Sheema Classic, exercised on a treadmill rather than the racetrack Tuesday. And Mike de Kock’s 10th World Cup Night horse, Asiatic Boy, was still back at the training yard.

An hour after those eight worked, Asiatic Boy had his final drill for the $6 million Dubai World Cup, breezing who knows how far over the brand spanking new training track constructed to accompany the new Meydan racetrack that opens next winter. Reaching out eagerly over the pristine Tapeta synthetic surface, Asiatic Boy did nothing to dispel the notion that this is his year. Two winters ago, he looked like a future World Cup winner, romping by almost 10 lengths in the UAE Derby. Last year, he ran into a little problem finishing second in the World Cup – a horse named Curlin. But Asiatic Boy’s preparations for the big race have gone more smoothly this time, a year when there is no standout like Curlin. Asiatic Boy’s owner, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum of Dubai, can now only hope for a decent draw and racing luck.

“It’s his dream to win this race,” Mike de Kock said.

Sheikh Mohammed’s dream, and maybe Mike de Kock’s destiny. The South African master horseman has settled into a position as Dubai’s most prominent trainer not named Saeed bin Suroor. On last year’s World Cup card he won two races - the UAE Derby with Honour Devil and the Sheema Classic with Sun Classique - and finished second in two others. While maintaining a strong presence in South Africa (he has three entries in the second leg of the South African Triple Crown on Saturday), Mike de Kock gears his winter around the Dubai Winter Carnival and to an even greater extent the World Cup program itself. And his horses have a way of showing their best when it counts.

If that happens, Mike de Kock could win three Saturday night. Arlington Million runner-up Archipenko, who had an easy turf work Tuesday in company with Lucky Find, was a troubled second in the 2008 Dubai Duty Free and is one of the top horses in this year’s race. Mike de Kock also pre-entered two other capable horses in the Dubai Duty Free, Russian Sage and Bankable. And even with his top 12-furlong horse Eagle Mountain injured and out of the Sheema Classic, he has Front House, King of Rome, and Macarthur for that race.

Argentine-bred Asiatic Boy will be Mike de Kock’s lone World Cup starter, with World Cup hopes for Honour Devil abandoned this week. But one might be enough. Asiatic Boy was purchased out of South America in summer 2006 and has made 9 of his 11 starts since at Nad Al Sheba. In summer 2007, he was taken to England for a turf campaign, finishing fourth and fifth in a pair of Group 1’s; Asiatic Boy was there last summer, too, but never raced.

“In England, he was never himself,” Mike de Kock said. “He had all kinds of little respiratory infections and things.”

And European turf racing also cut down Asiatic Boy’s form.

“He wants it firm and fast,” Mike de Kock said. “He wants to stay on top of the ground.”

But a one-surface pony Asiatic Boy is not, and he handles synthetic tracks at least as well as dirt. The horse’s affinity for both surfaces, and his discomfort on Euro-style turf, has led his connections to contemplate a U.S. invasion later this year.

Mike de Kock said the horse “flew over the ground” training on all-weather surfaces in England, and his all-weather work Tuesday drew high praise from Mike de Kock. The old dirt training track here, which Mike de Kock used regularly, closed this winter, and the new training track opened only three days ago. Set on high ground about a half-mile southwest of Nad Al Sheba, the nine-furlong track is mainly still a construction zone. A turf oval inside the Tapeta track has yet to be installed, the viewing building situated in the middle of the stretch is a work in progress, and there are no furlong poles up yet. Mike de Kock not only did not know how fast Asiatic Boy had worked, he did not know exactly how far.

But time meant little to Mike de Kock compared to the way Asiatic Boy stretched out over the surface. Tuesday marked Asiatic Boy’s second day on the Tapeta track, and spending the week of the World Cup on the synthetic surface could boost his chances Saturday. Training every day on dirt, Asiatic Boy has recently seemed unhappy and vaguely flat to his handlers.

“He tried to get me today,” Mike de Kock happily exclaimed, back at his office an hour later. “It was like the old Asiatic Boy. He’s a man-eater. I’ve been going out of my head, really, the last couple weeks, going back over my training books to see what we were doing before.”

While Mike de Kock has had as much success as anyone on the Nad Al Sheba dirt, he does not care for the surface.

“The dirt track here is not good for horses,” he said. The kickback in behind the pace can be intense, and trailing runners are at a major disadvantage. “You train for speed and stamina. Half the time, you’re training here just to make sure nothing’s going wrong.”

What can go wrong with Asiatic Boy are his hind feet. Mike de Kock said the horse is among the soundest he’s seen, but twice he has lost the inside part of a hind hoof. When he trains, he doesn’t wear shoes on his hind feet, which are shod only the day of the race.

And this much is likely: Asiatic Boy will have his running shoes on Saturday night.”

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sheikh mohammed bin khalifa al maktoumHis Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Matoum
(Photo : Summerhill Sires Brochure 2008/2009)

It’s a strange marvel of human behaviour that racing induces such incredible emotions in us. When all is said and done, true racing people are made of the same stuff, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifah Al Maktoum is no different. Speaking to his right-hand man, Mohammed Khaleel, in the wake of Thursday evening’s events in Dubai, he spoke of the Sheikh’s ecstasy at Asiatic Boy’s grand run, but he was no less complimentary about the efforts of Art Of War and Imbongi.

You’d think their thoughts were riveted solely on racing’s big night at the end of March, yet it’s a measure of Sheikh Mohammed and his team that, at times like this, they have the grace to think of the origins of these horses. Sheikh Mohammed was quick to recall that all of Imbongi and Art of War, Galant Gagnant and Umngazi were graduates of the Emperor’s Palace Ready To Run Sale, and he wished us long life with the sale henceforward. In his view, this is a prime source of top thoroughbreds, and he was quick to add the hope that this year’s crop would be comparable with the class of 2007. No doubt, music to the ears of Bob Yearham and his merry team at Emperors Palace.

It seems Imbongi is not the only one who might’ve booked his ticket for World Cup night. It’s possible little Art Of War gets his moment in the sunshine (or should we say the moonshine, too) in the Dubai World Cup itself.

No doubt, the likes of Barry Clements, Rodney Thorpe and Roger Zeeman had little inkling that the matings of their respective mares to Russian Revival and Kahal that year, would yield results which would one day have their names in lights at the richest racing spectacle on earth.


imbongi and kevin sheaImbongi

Last night brought down the curtain on the last of the big trials for racing’s richest meeting, the Dubai World Cup. There were many South African-connected steeds on display, and Mike de Kock will count it as a good day at the office.

From a Summerhill perspective, we had to be happy with the proceedings, though Imbongi must’ve been among the unlucky ones on the night. In what looked to be the “deep end” for Art Of War, in a race in which the famous likes of Dubai Millennium, Street Cry, and Electrocutionist have honed their claws for the big day, this little chap was asked to do it the hard way, out in front, while his illustrious stable companion, Asiatic Boy, bided his time three wide, out of the kick-back. Let’s not forget, Asiatic Boy was second in the World Cup itself a year ago to no less a horse than the world champion, Curlin, so having your name mentioned on the same card was something in itself of an honour for this unusually small son of Kahal. Yet he gutsed it out from the start, led through the bend, and kicked on courageously in the strait, hanging on grimly for third in the dying stages, while Asiatic Boy will be spot on for another crack at $6 million loot at the end of March.

Imbongi was in a tough one here, including grand Japanese filly, Vodka, who’s just been voted Horse Of The Year in her homeland. Also in the field were last year’s Duty Free hero, Jay Peg, (subsequent winner of the Singapore Airlines Cup Gr.1 as well); the Cape Derby and Daily News 2000 ace, Russian Sage, Summer Cup winner, Strategic News, and any number of international Group One and Two competitors.

The big worry for those of us who know Imbongi, was whether or not he would see out the 1770 m of the race, as this was relatively new territory for him, so it was to his great credit that in the last 150 metres of the race, there was nothing travelling better than he was. Pocketed in (like Vodka was), Imbongi saw daylight for the first time when the race was all but over, but once Kevin Shea had extracted him, he flew to get up for the minor money, while another stride or two might’ve put him in second.

Mike de Kock was more than frustrated after the event, proclaiming to Mick Goss that he thought the horse should’ve won with something to spare, if he’d got a run. It’s all the better news that he came out of the race well, and according to Mike, he’s hopeful he’ll qualify for a crack at the $5 million Dubai Duty Free over the course and distance, on the big night.


watching super thursday on tv“Go Boys!”

megan romeynMegan RomeynThe boss is back from his Australian travels today, just in time to witness the performances of two Summerhill-breds at Nad Al Sheba tonight.

Summerhill Ready To Run graduate, Art Of War, lines up for the feature race of the evening, the $300,000 Al Maktoum Challenge (Gr.2) third round over 2000m on dirt. This race is seen as a stepping stone for the $6million Dubai World Cup which is run over the same 10 furlong distance. Mike de Kock is cautiously optimistic about the son of Kahal who ran an impressive second in last Thursday’s Meydan Hotel Trophy over 1800m, behind the classy Gloria de Campeao. Art Of War has had a super Carnival and although well drawn (1) is perhaps an optimistic entry for us here, although he continues in good form at home,” said Mike de Kock. Art Of War will face some stiff competition in the form of 2008 Dubai World Cup runner-up, Asiatic Boy, who missed out behind Curlin in last year’s race, although Asiatic Boy does have a tough draw (15) to overcome.

The second Summerhill contender on Super Thursday is 2008 KZN Horse Of The Year, Imbongi, who lines up in the 1777m Jebel Hatta (Gr.2) on turf, a Dubai Duty Free trial. Imbongi will face a barrage of tough competition in the form of Russian Sage, Biarritz, Strategic News, Jay Peg and Japanese hope Vodka. According to Mike de Kock, Imbongi is better over a shorter distance, but is a horse that is in peak physical condition. Herman Brown Jnr, trainer of 2008 Dubai Duty Free victor, Jay Peg, says that his charge is coming along well and that he is confident of a solid performance.

Honour Devil, winner of the 2008 UAE Derby, will get his chance again tonight when he faces a host of Group winners in the $200,000 Burj Nahaar (Gr.3) over 1600m on dirt. Honour Devil steps up against the likes of Jalil, Summer Doldrums and Racecar Rhapsody in this prep race for the 1600m Godolphin Mile (Gr.2). Mike de Kock says, Honour Devil is well drawn (1) and ran as we expected first time, as he would have badly needed that run (when third in a conditions race).”

Although he wouldn’t be drawn into predictions, Mike de Kock is cautiously optimistic about the chances of Diana’s Choice and Hunting Tower who both line up in the Mahab Al Shimaal, a 1200m sprint on dirt that features Breeders’ Cup runner-up, Diabolical.

With so many South African runners and so many thrilling races on the Super Thursday card tonight, you can just imagine where the entire Summerhill team will be – cemented in front of the TV!

Archipenko, JJ The Jet Plane and Art Of War

mike de kock dubaiMike de Kock
(John Lewis/Dubai City)

Well, what a night of racing in the Dubai desert for Team Mike de Kock, as well as for South African horseracing.

With runners in only three races in Thursday night’s Dubai Racing Carnival spectacle, Mike de Kock and team made each race count!

A stellar run for second by Art Of War in the Meydan Hotel Trophy over 1800m on dirt was arguably the best UAE performance to date for this fighting son of Summerhill stallion Kahal. Art of War, a graduate of the Summerhill Ready To Run, courageously chased the seasoned campaigner, Gloria De Campeao, all the way to the line under jockey Johnny Murtagh.

JJ The Jet Plane, South African Champion Sprinter, exploded out the gates in the Al Quoz Sprint over 1200m on turf. Kevin Shea settled him just off the pace before igniting the afterburners from two furlongs out to win convincingly from Hatta Fort.

Then it was the turn of Archipenko, a son of Kingmambo, to test his class in the Zabeel Mile over 1600m on Turf, his first run since August 2008. Kevin Shea settled Archipenko two wide in second before upping the pace with 400m to go, driving across the line unthreatened.

Congratulation to Mike de Kock and team as well as to all the successful connections… class does tell.


summerhill yearlingsPreparations for the Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales
(Photo : Grant Norval)

“Extract from the Summerhill Stud Client Newsletter”

Raging bushfires in Australia, icy conditions in Europe and the financial melt-down all add up to a lot of tough stuff, yet if you were sitting here and weren’t reading the papers or watching TV, you’d be wondering what all the fuss was about.

We’ve just completed a record Ready To Run Sale, the local economy is still growing, albeit it slowly, our cricketers are on fire, and the Cape Yearling Sale was up almost 10% on average, very much against the international trend. While the chill wind is obviously still going to blow, it seems as if South Africa is sitting a little prettier than most. There are those who might lament the Rand’s 30% depreciation in October, but for exporters and our foreign customers, its music to the ears.

Besides, Imbongi and Art Of War have both ran crackers, the latter victorious by 8,5 lengths on Thursday in Dubai. You never know, but we’re always cogniscent that the Dubai Duty Free (& others) are worth US$5 million each!

So what’s up at the ranch? We’re in the process of weaning one of the best crops of foals we’ve seen, at the same time attending to their micro-chipping (for id purposes). It’s business plan and budget time too, and with our broad management structure, we have every divisional head beavering away at their plans for the year and their departmental sums.

Land preparation for the autumn and winter pastures has just started, and we’re a month into the preparation of a terrific bunch of yearlings for the Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales.

(Click here for the low down)

Interestingly, we’ve sold a number of horses in training and mares off the farm in recent weeks, and there’s been good international interest from Hong Kong, Pakistan (of all places) and Mauritius, alongside solid domestic demand. It seems people are still buying racehorses (either for the revenue or the “fun” dividend) in preference to motor cars, because that segment of the economy has really gone quiet. I should add, the horses are making their money, so there’ve been no giveaways.

(Click here to view what we have left to offer)

Hartford House is “pumping” at the moment, and there’s hardly place at the inn on a weekend well into May, so this is the “early warning” system reminding our friends that the July weekend, our Stallion Day and the KZN Broodmare sale (Thursday 2-8 July) are likely to be swallowed up very soon. I would recommend, if you’re keen to attend the races, Stallion Day, or the Broodmare and Yearling sale that you book soon.

This note comes, as always, with our best wishes from everyone at Summerhill.

Street Cry, Desert Party and the UAE 2000 Guineas

The domination of Desert Party in last Thursday’s 1600m feature at Nad Al Sheba, the UAE 2000 Guineas (Gr3) for three-year-olds on the dirt, was affirmation for America’s hottest young stallion, Street Cry, as well as for the Ready To Run/Breeze-Up Sales concept.

The European Bloodstock News reports that jockey Frankie Dettori asked his mount to chase Redding Colliery (Mineshaft) and Godolphin stable companion Regal Ransom (Distorted Humor) from 400m out and the pair hit the front at the 200m pole with Desert Party winning going away.

“We knew he had come out of his last race very well and improved from that run. This extra distance was never going to be a concern and, all being well, he will be UAE Derby bound,” said the delighted trainer of Desert Party, Saeed Bin Suroor.

Desert Party is by Darley Jonabell-based stallion, Street Cry. He was purchased for $425,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale by Hidden Brook. Desert Party and the second-placed Regal Ransom were subsequently sold to John Ferguson for $2,100,000 and $675,000 respectively at Fasig-Tipton’s Calder Selected Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale.

The Summerhill draft for the 2009 Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale to be held later this year, will include the only daughter of Street Cry on offer in South Africa this year.

GROWING HEAT: Imbongi Warms Up

Mike de Kock
(John Lewis/Mario Alberto Magallanes Trez)

In celebrating its twenty year association with that country’s Rulers, Summerhill’s preoccupation with the Dubai Racing Carnival is acute, to say the least. While most South African racing fans spend Thursday evenings glued to Channel 232, and no doubt marvel at what our horses are doing out there, Summerhill’s involvement is obviously founded on a number of other premises.

It means so much to us to be represented there, and it’s a permanent aspiration that we should have runners in this desert sheikdom. Better than that, we want to see good runners, and so Mike de Kock’s revelation in his conversation on Friday with Mick Goss, that Imbongi was headed for two major Group races in the next fortnight, was illuminating. Imbongi has had just one run since arriving in Dubai, a block-busting second to multiple Group winner, Hatta Fort, over 1300m, well short of his best.

As a multiple Guineas winner in South Africa, you might be forgiven for thinking that would entail an automatic invitation to Dubai World Cup night, but since the status of these time-revered races has been affected through the tampering of our own Graded Stakes committee, despite two victories over perennial Champion and dual Horse Of The Year, Pocket Power, Imbongi still has to impress others, it seems. Mike de Kock’s reasoning then, is rather than go for a single target in which luck, (or the lack of it,) may play a decisive role, he’s going to ask the horse for two big efforts in a narrow timespan.

Judging by Friday’s article in The Mercury, Mike de Kock was pleased with the performance of Imbongi last week and was hoping he would qualify for the Dubai Duty Free. However, he intimated that his two top horses, Eagle Mountain and Archipenko would also be going for the Duty Free. “Imbongi is a very good horse, make no mistake, but to beat European horses of that class at level weights is not going to be easy”.

We don’t know about his ability to get the 1777 metres of the $5 million Dubai Duty Free (Gr.1), but what we do know is that Imbongi appears to have matured some since the end of last season, and we’re not alone in relishing the thought that at 1600m, he might well be up to competition with the best, including Archipenko and Eagle Mountain. Something to savour for next Thursday.

ART OF WAR : The Vindication

Art Of War winning the Wheels 2000 at Nad Al Sheba

When Imbongi, Desert Links, Art Of War and Galant Gagnant became the targets of international offers and ambitions, we knew that our Breeder’s Championship aspirations for 2009 were likely to be imperilled. These, after all, were among Summerhill’s best performers of the last season, and while the likes of Rebel King and Outcome have since provided some local reassurance in the Grade One victories they’ve delivered in the interim, the earnings of horses of this ilk would’ve been material, no matter your perspective.

The consolation then, lies in the performances that led them to the faraway lands they now populate, and last night, in the sands of Dubai, Art Of War delivered his own compliment to Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum’s wisdom in taking him out for the Carnival.

His swansong in South Africa was a seven length victory over 1600m in the Vaal sand, and it was reasonable to expect that a repeat of that margin of victory was unlikely. Yet, in the full glare of last evening’s international television audience, Art Of War didn’t only take on a decent field of horses drawn from across the globe, he pretty much annihilated them, cruising away by 8.5 lengths.

Like Imbongi, Desert Links and Galant Gagnant, Art Of War was yet another graduate of Summerhill’s Ready To Run programme, Sheikh Mohammed splashing out R360 000 to acquire the son of Kahal. In another repeat, Art Of War is a product of the now famous cross of Kahal on Northern Guest mares, his dam being the once raced Cariad, whose only performance at the races yielded an excellent second in the colours of Rodney Thorpe and Roger Zeeman at Greyville. Cariad has a Malhub colt on the Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales in April.

Did you see Art Of War's charge tonight?

Art of War charges in the 2009 Bluestone Handicap

ART OF WAR this evening put up a performance reminiscent of his Vaal explosions of past. This Summerhill-bred son of Kahal; owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, trained by Mike de Kock and piloted by Johnny Murtagh, tore up the dirt in the final stretch of Nad Al Sheba’s Bluestone Handicap to miss by a head.

ART OF WAR, a 2006 graduate of the Summerhill Ready To Run programme, is from the dynamite Kahal-Northern Guest cross.


sheikh mohammed bin khalifa al maktoumSheikh 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.

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Did you see Imbongi's guts last night?

Imbongi tears up the turf in the 2009 Marju Handicap
(Footage : ERA)

If you watched last evening’s Marju Handicap raced over 1300m on Nad Al Sheba’s Turf track, you would have witnessed the rejuvinated figure of Imbongi jumping from draw 12. Kevin Shea positioned the son of Russian Revival at the back of the pack before opening the throttle in the straight and tearing the field apart, to be denied only by a photo-finish-short-head…

“Ask anyone at Summerhill for their recollections of him (Imbongi) on the day of his birth, and they’ll tell you he was born to run. If nothing else was predictable about him, it was that the progeny of his mother, would never be short of heart. The specimen was there, the athleticism apparent as he took his first few steps, so all he had to do after that, was run.

One thing common among Garden Verse’s foals to that time, was the element of guts. Prima Versa is an example. A Graded Stakes performer at two, he was still going strong at eight, while Full Spectrum had the heart of a lioness, which she’s passed on to her talented daughter, Oracle News. As a man who at first seemed to fail and then spectacularly succeeded, Imbongi exemplifies the battling spirit that sometimes has to bend, but never yields.”

Bayete Imbongi.

(Extract from IMBONGI… this horse was born to run)

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Al Rashidiya and Casthouse fall to South Africa

silver mistSilver Mist
(Photo : Dubai Racing Club)

Last night’s running of the Dubal sponsored $200,000 Al Rashidiya (Gr3) over 1777m, the first grass feature of the 2009 Dubai International Racing Carnival, was once again dominated by South Africa who have now won four of the last six renewals.

Mike de Kock, Champion trainer of South Africa, won the Al Rashidiya for his third time when stable jockey, Kevin Shea, drove Silver Mist to victory, ironically as the mist descended upon Nad Al Sheba racecourse. This was Kevin Shea’s first victory in the Al Rashidiya.

With three runners in the feature race; Hunting Tower, Royal Vintage and Silver Mist, the Mike de Kock stable always held a strong hand. Kevin Shea took Silver Mist to the front with about 200m to run, leaving Third Set and Kirklees to chase him home.

“They did not go very quick but we were always travelling well and he (Silver Mist) has picked up nicely and really stuck his head out,” said Kevin Shea.

Mike de Kock has no lofty aspirations with regards to the six-year-old son of Western Winter: “That was very pleasing and he has done it nicely. It is his second run in three weeks and we may give him a break. We have plenty more horses left to run and hopefully a lot more winners left to saddle.”


Herman Brown joined the party in the Dubal Casthouse turf handicap with Strategic News who was perfectly produced to the lead in the dying strides by jockey Ryan Moore.

This victory by Strategic News was Herman Brown’s first for the 2009 Dubai International Racing Carnival. “We thought he (Strategic News) would go close and Ryan has timed that perfectly,” said Herman Brown.

DUBAI RACING CARNIVAL : Mike de Kock and Herman Brown

herman brown and mike de kockHerman Brown and Mike de Kock
(Summerhill Stud)

The final Nad Al Sheba based Dubai International Racing Carnival kicks off on Thursday boasting the largest international field ever assembled to compete for over US$31million in prize-money.

With an increased number of horses from Japan, France and Saudi Arabia, the return of Australia as well as a strong contingent from South Africa and Great Britain, this year’s Carnival is billed as the best ever and promises to be a fitting farewell to Nad Al Sheba before the much anticipated move to Meydan Racecourse next year.

Having saddled three of the six winners on World Cup night in 2008, as well as runner-up Asiatic Boy in the Dubai World Cup itself, the South African contingent have a tough task to emulate their achievements from last year, but both Mike de Kock and Herman Brown have assembled their strongest teams to date.

With 53 Dubai Carnival winners and 8 Dubai World Cup winners, Mike de Kock, is undoubtedly the most successful trainer to date. He fields about 40 horses based at Nad Al Sheba this season, including last year’s UAE Derby winner Honour Devil and Asiatic Boy (Mike de Kock has won four UAE Derbies), winner of that race in 2007 and Dubai World Cup runner-up last year.

Both could clash in the 2009 Dubai World Cup according to their trainer: “Asiatic Boy did not settle in the UK last year so we brought him back to Dubai early and he is a lot further ahead in his preparation than 12 months ago as a result. He will probably contest the last two rounds of the Maktoum Challenge before the Dubai World Cup,” said Mike de Kock.”

Both Archipenko and Eagle Mountain who, like Asiatic Boy and Honour Devil, carry the familiar yellow silks of Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, were Group 1 winners in Hong Kong last year and will be aiming at the Dubai Duty Free and Dubai Sheema Classic respectively.

Proven Carnival performers like Royal Vintage, Bennie Blue, Engrupido, Drift Ice and Frosty Secret are joined by a plethora of new recruits including South African Champion Sprinter JJ The Jet Plane as well as the talents of Imbongi, Hunting Tower, Rocks Off and Front House. Throw in the likes of Bankable, Stubbs Art, Macarthur and King of Naples from Europe, as well as the usual youngsters from South America, such as Blues And Rock and India Tiberina and it is easy to see why Mike de Kock feels his team is the strongest yet.

The same applies to fellow South African Herman Brown whose 13 Carnival winners to date are undoubtedly highlighted by Jay Peg’s win in last year’s Dubai Duty Free (a race Mike de Kock has won twice).

With stable stalwart Linngari retired, Jay Peg is the obvious star name this year but Herman Brown too has his largest ever team.

Herman Brown explained: “We have more horses this year and hopefully it is our best team ever. That said, the horses have arrived later this time which is not ideal and we may need a week or two to reach our peak. We have left a few here all summer to acclimatise, including Oracle West who has been a great Carnival performer for Mike (de Kock). Narc is another and he ran in the Sprint on World Cup night last year. We have some nice new horses as well with Guineas and Derby winner King’s Gambit perhaps the most interesting from home. Traffic Guard has been here before and did well in Europe, while Mourilyan won two here for John Oxx last season.”

Racecar Rhapsody from America, Lipocco from the UK and Basaltico from Italy are three others given a favourable mention but do not be surprised if further names are added to the Herman Brown stable in the coming weeks with his owners looking to strengthen their hand.

Summerhill Stud wishes both the Mike de Kock and Herman Brown teams great success for the Dubai Racing Carnival with some good old South African “Amandla”.


MIKE DE KOCK : Build up to Dubai Racing Carnival

mike de kock

Mike de Kock
(TDSports/John Lewis)

The month of December is not all about Christmas stockings and decorated trees for reigning South African Champion Trainer Mike de Kock, as it heralds the start of another preparatory phase in his build up to the Dubai Racing Carnival.

Mike de Kock Racing reports that the 2009 renewal of the world’s richest racing spectacle will represent Mike de Kock’s sixth sojourn to the UAE desert. Every year he’s had to match a terrific previous season but time and again he’s managed to better his own records with phenomenal spells of success.

In his five desert seasons so far Mike de Kock has saddled an astounding 63 winners from only 288 runners , capturing some of the world’s richest and most sought-after racing trophies against gruelling competition from the very best the racing world has to offer.

With 20 of those winners recorded in 2007, his best UAE season ever, Mike de Kock’s task seems to be getting harder, yet in 2009 his string will be 45 strong, more than twice the average number he’s trained at his Grandstand Stable Complex in his first five years.

With 19 inmates already in work with assistant Trevor Brown in Dubai and at least another 23 soon on the way on different chartered flights, Dubai 2009 could be Mike de Kock’s greatest carnival ever.

A Summer Cup winner, a Durban July winner, Derby winners, an Oaks winner and SA’s Champion Sprinter left Cape Town for Mike de Kock’s base at Newmarket, England, in October. They included Summerhill Stud’s multiple Graded winner Imbongi, Grade 1 winning three-year-old Rocks Off, Daily News 2000 winner Russian Sage, top class Oaks winner Front House, sprint sensation JJ The Jet Plane as well as sand stars Naples and Quicksand.

All, except JJ The Jet Plane and Breeders Cup Turf runner-up Eagle Mountain are expected to leave England for Dubai on 4 December. “JJ’’ and Eagle Mountain will stop over in Hong Kong en route to Dubai to contest races on the Cathay Pacific International Extravaganza and Mike de Kock said: “There is a quarantine issue which concerns JJ, but he has been officially invited to the Hong Kong Sprint and is being prepared for the race. The officials are bending over backwards to help us. Eagle Mountain will be going for the Hong Kong 2000.”

Trevor Brown said from Dubai yesterday: “All is well and we’re looking forward to a cracking season. Among the horses already back in training here are Archipenko, Asiatic Boy and Honour Devil, who have all had nice breaks and are starting to shed their excess condition, and Inca Noble, a very talented but injury-prone filly who is doing exceptionally well at the moment.’’

Among the Dubai stalwarts from previous years who are likely to race at Jebel Ali and perhaps Nad Al Sheba in the pre-carnival period from 19 December are Ablaan, gelded Limehouse and Drift Ice. In early January there could be races for the likes of Brave Tin Soldier and Trinity College.

New acquisitions already in Dubai are Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum’s Indian Tamburina, a filly Trevor Brown describes as small and laid-back, but with good ability, Zajel and Musaytit from Australia and Blues And Rock from Argentina.

Four recent acquisitions from Coolmore are also on their way and include Zulu Chief, a half-brother to boom sire Hawk Wing, and Macarthur, a brother to Racing Post Derby winner Motivator, by Montjeu.

“Royal Vintage, Lucky Find and another new horse called Stubbs Art landed in Dubai last Thursday,” Trevor Brown concluded.




Dubai update

The South African trainers kicked off their 2007 Carnival campaign in fine style last week, Mike de Kock unveiling the very impressive South American bred Asiatic Boy who won the Dumaani Stakes (1400m, dirt) by a facile 4.75 lengths, whist Herman Brown’s Indochine won the USD110,000 Intidab Stakes over 1400m (turf).

This evening the two will campaign 5 horses a piece