The 12-month season only ends on Wednesday, but today is set to prove decisive in the battle between De Kock and Sean Tarry for the South African Trainers’ Championship. Seven feature races will be run including the R1.25-million Gold Cup, Africa’s premier horseracing marathon, and prize money for the day-night meeting totals R4.3 million.
De Kock is currently slightly less than R400 000 ahead of Tarry in the trainers’ championship, which is decided by prize money earned. He has 19 runners engaged for today’s meeting including two in the Gold Cup and two in the other major feature, the R750 000 Champions Cup. Tarry has 13 runners – Whiteline Fever is the stable’s sole hope in the Champions Cup, but the trainer will saddle three in the Gold Cup, including strongly fancied Kolkata.
There’s a field of 19 for the 3 200m Gold Cup, which starts in the straight in front of the grandstands, and there will be a huge roar from the big crowd as the runners charge past the winning post for the first time on their marathon journey around the triangular-shaped track.
Virtually any of the runners look capable of winning and that’s reflected in the betting. Knight To Remember, who finished third two years ago and showed a return to form recently, is a weak favourite at 13/2.
Tarry’s Kolkata is disputing second favouritism with De Kock’s Patriotic Rebel at 7/1 with Seal, who is expected to much up a better show after flopping in the Vodacom Durban July, at 8/1.
There’s a lot to like about Kolkata, who was second in the 2011 Gold Cup before fluffing his lines last year. The five-year-old will be ridden by Piere Strydom, one of the best jockeys in South African horseracing history, and scored a sparkling victory in his warm-up race for the Gold Cup.
And if Kolkata doesn’t arrive at the party, Tarry’s also got chances with E-Jet and Gold Onyx, who will be ridden by S’manga Khumalo. He’s SA’s hottest jockey right now and won the Durban July for Tarry on Heavy Metal three weeks ago.
Kolkata is the stable elect and Tarry is holding thumbs that he can win the title.
“It would be a massive achievement, but Mike de Kock is a master and will be hard to beat,” he said.
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