Mike de Kock believes that 7-1 shot Barahin has a better chance in the Vodacom Durban July than the favourite Hawwaam who is a third of the price.
De Kock, eight times champion trainer and four times a July winner, explained his reasoning in a fascinating interview with James Goodman on Monday evening’s Winning Ways programme.
He said: “Barahin is very well handicapped – fortunately he hasn’t had the handicappers’ grubby paws all over him yet (just joking!) – but when he ran behind National Park and Hawwaam in the Gauteng Guineas he was never really at his best.
“Going into the Derby I thought he would be an absolute certainty but then we had a little bit of a niggle – he went a little bit off behind. We dealt with that and he has been very good since. Sunday’s Jubilee Handicap win was for me super impressive given the fact that he was giving five or five and a half kilos to older horses and going to fetch them when they were not stopping.
“I thought that was very meritorious. The fact that he had room for the handicappers to give him two, three, four pounds or whatever they felt like giving him (in fact they raised him 2kg to 112) and he is still under sufferance – and in my opinion still under-rated – so we take our chance and I believe he has a good few pounds in hand. He is a horse that should probably finish up on 117 or 118.”
When put on the spot by Goodman and asked to say which one he would pick in the July, De Kock replied: “Tough one but I must be inclined to go for the horse that is better off at the weights. The problem is that the other one (Hawwaam) is so good. But he is also mentally immature and Barahin is possibly a little bit more stable mentally than Hawwaam. Rainbow Bridge and Do It Again are two very good horses – and I was particularly impressed with Do It Again last Saturday –but we are getting much better than our weight-for-age allowance and that makes him (Barahin) a big runner.”
De Kock has offered Muzi Yeni the mount. “Barahin wants a strong ride and I think he will suit Muzi. But Muzi might be juggling a couple of balls – it’s like a big circus out there!”
It now appears that Anton Marcus will be on Hawwaam as he was when the colt won the Premier’s Champions Challenge and the Daily News. “I am fairly confident that Anton is going to ride him,” said De Kock. “He hasn’t told me he is not so I am taking that as a yes. Anton takes juggling to another level but he is coming and riding work every morning like a man that is riding the horse.”
Everybody wants Marcus, the most successful July jockey in history, and Goodman likened the demand for his services to Lester Piggott in the Epsom Derby. But for some time now Marcus’s choice has appeared to be a straight fight between Hawwaam and Rainbow Bridge on whom he won the Sun Met and has ridden on the horse’s two subsequent Greyville outings.
De Kock said that he decided to keep Hawwaam at Summerveld rather than sending him back to complete his preparation at home in Gauteng so as to avoid the risk of injury associated with the long journey. But other factors also had a bearing.
“One of the big ones is that we can gallop him at Greyville in the July gallops. I felt he needed to see the track again. He was very green when he won the Daily News – he was all over the show from the time he left the gates, not really concentrating and running in snatches. The July gallops are the ideal scenario.”
By Michael Clower