Mike de Kock has come to the defence of his sprinter, JJ The Jet Plane, after the gelding was criticised in the media and online for his performance in the showpiece Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot. The five-year-old son of Jet Master, a multiple winner in South Africa, generated unprecedented column inches after winning his preparation race in the build-up to the Royal meet.
Installed as the favourite, JJ The Jet Plane, whose name delighted the race-going public and who has his own fan group on social networking website, facebook, was beaten into fourth behind the surprise winner Art Connoisseur, American raider Cannonball and Lesson in Humility. "It irks me that there are people in the South African media and on the internet who have described JJ The Jet Plane's run as 'disappointing'," said the handler in a newspaper column.
"He acquitted himself very well and I believe we will see fireworks from him over a bit more ground. For goodness sake, be patient - we will break the ice at Royal Ascot and elsewhere. "Only those who have travelled to other racing jurisdictions will know how tough and competitive it is out there." De Kock is making headway in the UK though as he proved with a Group Three victory for the Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa-owned Imbongi in the Criterion Stakes recently.
The five-year-old son of Russian Revival, gained ground after stumbling to take control of the race in which Godolphin's Huntdown was second and another Dubai regular, Balthazaar's Gift, trained in the UAE by Rod Simpson, was third. Imbongi managed a duo of fourth-place finishes in Group Two races at Nad al Sheba last season, beaten by Godolphin's Royal Ascot flop, Gladiatorus and Herman Brown's now retired Jay Peg.
But the handler's attention is now on home soil as he prepares for Saturday's Durban July. He may be racing for second place if the hype surrounding Pocket Power is to be believed, but de Kock - with three runners in Forest Path, Bouquet-Garni and Zirconeum - is ready to pounce if the favourite drops the ball. email@example.com