Multiple champion trainer Mike de Kock, reasonably quiet by his standards for much of the early part of the current season, opened the taps last Saturday with six winners that included Barahin’s destruction of the Emperors Palace Charity Mile field. With the Highveld spring season in full swing, De Kock will have his colleagues ducking for cover as he unleashes the talent in his yard.
Two that look to have a bright future are the fillies Mabella and California Cool who line up on the Turffontein inside track tomorrow. Both facile winners on debut and going the mile for the first time, De Kock has kept them apart with California Cool contesting a Graduation Plate and Mabella a lower division handicap.
Given a rating of 86 after shedding her maiden on debut, California Cool has the more difficult task in her set weights race. She is some 20 pounds out at the weights with top rated Snow Palace, so on paper her chances of victory look remote.
That said, California Cool boasts a pedigree to die for and the manner of her maiden win suggests that the step up to 1600m will be right up her alley.
Her dam, Hollywoodboulevard, was trained by now retired Charles Laird and was not the easiest in her racing days. But she was talented and finished second to Igugu in the Gr2 Gauteng Fillies Guineas and won five races from 1200m to a mile so California Cool should not have any trouble seeing out the trip. She also showed a smart turn of foot when coming from way back in shedding her maiden so expect Callan Murray to employ similar tactics tomorrow.
Given the weights, one will need to respect the likes of Snow Palace, Green Top and Keep Smiling but California Cool could turn into something special.
Stable companion Mabella’s rating may be a little misleading as her maiden win came in a lowly workriders plate, not the type of race that De Kock would normally choose for a promising filly to make her debut.
But there was no shortage of confidence from the stable and Mabella started in the red. She duly did a demolition job on the opposition, winning unchallenged by nearly five lengths.
She faces more experienced opposition as she jumps to the mile for the first time, but if the handicappers have it right, the theory being that all have an equal chance, then she too will have her work cut out. But as mentioned, Mabella may be way under the radar and prove too strong for fellow three-year-old Celeste – Paul Peter’s filly shedding her maiden by five but also at her fifth start – and Evening Rise, with a hungry Piere Strydom riding well for Fabian Habib.
Paul Matchett and Muzi Yeni team up on the day and a brace of winners are on the cards for the combination.
I’m not sure how the risqué name of Whiskytangofoxtrot got past the keepers of the stud book but the gelding looks a fair bet in the All To Come Maiden Plate, first leg of the PA.
The gelding has come on steadily since making his debut for Dorrie Sham, and in his first outing for his new stable he came with a telling late run, making up nearly 10 lengths over the final two furlongs to be denied a neck. The mile will be right up his street and Whiskytangofoxtrot should be one of the better bets on the card with opposition trainers cursing under their breath.
Matchett and Yeni team up in the last with the well named Donderweer, the son of Soft Falling Rain primed for bigger things.
He took on a smart field first up out of the maidens and made all the running to hold off the attentions of the feature winning filly Cockney Pride.
But tactics could play a big roll and from a wide draw Yeni may have to settle his mount in behind the better drawn Promise and another recent end-to-end winner Fired Up. Paul Peter’s mare takes no prisoners, winning four of her last five starts from the front and run out of it only once with the winner in receipt of 5.5kg. Fired Up is drawn one on her outside in gate 10 with Donderweer alongside in 11.
The battle for the lead could then play into the hands of seasoned veteran Kings Archer who comes from off the gallop and promising apprentice Cole Dicken gives him 4kg relief from his set weight of 60kg. An interesting race all round.
By Andrew Harrison