First, second and third. The Trifecta belonged to trainer Mike de Kock’s trio of runners in the Grade 2 Jonsson Workwear Dingaans at Turffontein on Saturday.
Betway Summer Cup
De Kock might have been disappointed in the main race of the day, the Betway Summer Cup, but he showed he has some very bright prospects among his younger contingent.
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Union Square (5-1) and jockey Randall Simons made the most of their inside-rail barrier draw to get the better of stablemate and 5-4 hot favourite Shoemaker, with East Coast (5-1) grabbing third spot – ahead of sometime De Kock assistant Nathan Kotzen’s raider from KwaZulu-Natal, Royal Victory.
De Kock told the story of the race afterwards when he described the pace as “terrible”. He said the way the leaders hit the brakes in the early stages of the 1600m contest was “quite dangerous”.
This crawl put paid to Shoemaker’s chances, as exited the No 11 gate and was forced onto the backfoot, struggling to make up ground in the straight.
By contrast – as Simons’s Jockeycam showed – Union Square was able to position well around the long, uphill Turffontein turn and then light the burners in the straight and carry the familiar yellow and blue silks of Sheikh Mohammed Khalifa al Maktoum to victory.
The Dingaans is an early test for some of the most progressive youngsters of their generation and has been won by some notable horses down the years.
It certainly sets De Kock up to be a major factor in upcoming prestigious three-year-old classics, including the Cape Guineas.
It will be interesting to see which of his “very good horses” the Randjesfontein master takes to coast and which he prepares for the Triple Crown back home.
It was a second win on the day for both De Kock and Simons. In Race 3, De Kock’s consistent handicapper Forever Mine (5-1) posted his sixth career victory in his 18th start to claim the 1400m Pinnacle Stakes against a strong line-up.
Hotpot favourite Bon Vivant (11-10), from the Johan Janse van Vuuren stable, was relegated to third, behind 14-1 chance Indlamu.
In Race 5, the 1160m Betway Merchants, Simons was aboard Stuart Pettigrew-trained Vars Vicky as the five-year-old gelding blew open the exotic-bet market by romping home at 33-1.
This marked a notable double for Pettigrew as well, with his charge Alula’s Star (14-1) having grabbed the 1160m Joburg Tourism Magnolia Handicap just over half an hour earlier – getting her nose in front on the line to best 9-4 favourite Gobsmacked and spoil the latter’s previous unbeaten record.
Pettigrew is not a man for the limelight, but he couldn’t dodge it after his pair landed the quick Grade 3 double.
One of the most under-rated trainers in the country, he was typically unassuming, saying: “It’s been a good day so far. I’d just like to thank everyone involved.”
Pettigrew was disappointed later in the day when none of his four runners could land him the 1600m Grade 2 Ipi Tombe Challenge, which was won very impressively by the Mike and Adam Azzie-trained Gimme A Shot.
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