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Igugu wins J&B Met

After enduring a long trip, and an even more cumbersome quarantine procedure, Igugu, the winner of the 2011 Vodacom Durban July (G1), continued her great run with a heartstopping win in the J&B Met at Kenilworth under regular rider Anthony Delpech. Igugu’s majority owner is Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum.

“She almost had no right to win,” said trainer Mike de Kock.  ”I feel she was 90 percent today, I’m humbled by this performance.  It’s been a great performance.  I feel if she wasn’t here today, it wouldn’t have been the same.”

“We had to travel 18 hours to get down here.  These champions seem to get over it, lesser horses wouldn’t.  She didn’t have that early gate speed, but what she’s been through, locked up in quarantine from dawn until dusk, it hasn’t been easy. With the slow pace, I was expecting to see us in front. It probably shows she wasn’t at her best.  It’s not easy when you train horses like this, but fortunately, the people who own her, everyone has faith in the team, trust in the team.”

While she might not have been at her best, it makes the gutty late stretch heroics even more thrilling. De Kock indicates Igugu would stay in South Africa and aim for defence of her title in the Vodacom Durban July if she couldn’t get to Dubai for next year’s season.


  1. Yet another great win by Igugu. For those watching the video, take a closer look at the eye-catching flying finish of 4th placed Run For It. It might take a few replays to see where he came from.

  2. Just another great of an every growing list of great colt’s and fillies sired by the mighty Galileo!! This filly really looks special to me, because those 2 fields she’s beaten to win the G1 Durban July and now the G1 J&B Met were certainly not gimmes. I wonder if Mike De Kock and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum might not now consider the possibility of shipping Igugu to Dubai in March to strengthen their hand in the G1 Sheema Classic? Which, as far as I can tell, seems to be the weakest hand of the 3 middle distance G1 races on world cup night for Mike De Kock. He’s strong in the Dubai World Cup entries with Bold Silvano and Master of Hounds. Strong in the Duty Free entries with Musir and River Jetez. But as near as I can tell, he has Irish Flame and possibly Mahbooba, since she won over 12f at Newmarket, as his Sheema Classic possibles? Irish Flame may have raced well in South Africa. But he was more than a little disappointing in all of his starts at Meydan during the 2011 Carnival. And I think the Cape Verdi showed us that Mahbooba would be vulnerable to other top 12f turf horses in the Sheema Classic. But adding Igugu to his Sheema Classic potentials would very quickly level the playing field for Mike De Kock in that race. TJMO.

  3. I don’t know what Mike De Kock’s plans are now for Igugu? But I’m also among the growing list of fans of this awesome filly that hopes to see her in Dubai on March 31st in the G1 Sheema Classic field!! Have to say I tend to agree with the comments from “ILuvTurfRacing” above that his Sheema Classic possible entries seem to leave Mike De Kock and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum wanting for class a good deal more than what the pair have to throw at the G1 Dubai Duty Free and the G1 Dubai World Cup fields. I know Mike De Kock has always spoken highly of Irish Flame, and he continues to state emphatically that Irish Flame has yet to be seen at his best in Dubai? I know he’s a G1 of the G1 Daily News 2000 over 10f in South Africa in 2010. Having just edged out another De Kock star, Bold Silvano, by 1/4 length in 2010. He then defeated Happy Valley in the G2 Gold Circle Derby over 12f, before having Bold Silvano reverse form on him in the G1 Durban July in 2010. But the kind of form Irish Flame’s shown in South Africa just hasn’t ever manifested itself in Dubai? And a dismal 8th place finish in the listed Ben Marshall Stakes at Newmarket in October doesn’t bold well for him either. Irish Flame did manage a conditions stakes win on the all-weather at Kemtpon over the John Gosden trained, Treasury Devil, back in early November. But that form is a long, long way from the kind of form needed to win a Sheema Classic. If Mahbooba does stand as De Kock’s other possible Sheema entry? Can’t say I’d rate her chances in the race a whole lot better? She did manage to beat 2010 Duty Free winner, Al Shemali, by some 6 lengths in the listed Godolphin Stakes over 12f at Newmarket in the fall. But followed that win up with a well beaten 6th in the G1 E P Taylor Stakes at Woodbine. I just can’t imagine Mahbooba being good enough at 12f to outrun some of the worlds top 12f turf horses. But the filly Igugu, horse of a different color entirely. Since it was announced that the Japanese star, Oferve, would bypass a run at the Sheema Classic or the Dubai World Cup entirely this year, I think it left the Sheema Classic as one of the most wide open races on the card on world cup night. A filly who’s proven good enough to win the G1 Durban July and J&B Met back to back would certainly rank as a major player in the Sheema Classic, would one think?

  4. The problem is not so much wanting to get Igugu to Dubai, bur rather how. The reason she’s not there already, and why Mike de Kock didn’t take any new South African horses to Dubai this season, is an issue with quarantine. The horses would have to go through months of shipping and restrictions, and he was not willing to put them through it.

    A lot of effort has been made to change these restrictions, but I don’t know how much progress there has been. Unlike the rest of the world, we can’t just fly our horses to Dubai a month or a week before the big day. We have to prepare and start moving many months in advance.

  5. Like Marc says, it takes some 4 months to move a horse from SA to anywhere else in the world. Then they have to start training and getting right all over again for some big race. This is a big chunk out of a racehorse’s racing lifespan. Also, some never quite get back to their best again.

    And it is mega-expensive … not a problem for the Sheik I imagine … but de Kock brings over many horses for other owners. Sometimes it pays off spectacularly, like Lizard’s Desire last year, but often it flops too and then it is serious money spent for nothing.

    Let’s hope the quarantine regulations get sorted out soon. Apart from racehorses, SA also provides some of the best endurance horses in the world, much in demand in the Middle East I believe.

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