x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Horse racing: Mike de Kock pushes for Shea Shea at Royal Ascot

Mike de Kock is a potent force at the Dubai World Cup Carnival but a winner at Britain's summer showpiece meeting still eludes him, writes Geoffrey Riddle.

Shea Shea, second from the left, will try to become the first South African-trained winner at Royal Ascot as he goes for glory on Tuesday in the King's Stand Stakes. Satish Kumar / The National
Shea Shea, second from the left, will try to become the first South African-trained winner at Royal Ascot as he goes for glory on Tuesday in the King's Stand Stakes. Satish Kumar / The National

Mike de Kock is confident Shea Shea can become the first South African-trained winner at Royal Ascot as he goes for glory on Tuesday in the King's Stand Stakes.

De Kock is rightly regarded as a master of his craft on the world stage; over the past decade he has won multiple top-level prizes on several continents.

The trainer is always a particularly potent force at the Dubai Carnival at Meydan, but a winner at Britain's summer showpiece meeting still eludes him.

Shea Shea certainly has the credentials to end De Kock's frustration, having smashed the Meydan track record with a blistering display of speed in the Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night in March.

The trainer believes his charge has plenty going for him ahead of his royal assignment and is hopeful the six-year-old South Africa-bred can get the job done in the hands of the France-based Belgian Christophe Soumillon.

De Kock said: "His work has always been good. In Dubai when we worked him he flew. He was also training while in quarantine, albeit not as hard as normal.

"I actually think the uphill finish might suit him as he gets going late, but even though he broke the track record twice at Meydan, South Africa has yet to have a winner at Royal Ascot.

"Ascot will be different to what he's used to but he has been to the July Course to work and up the Long Hill gallop so he has had a good go at undulations. Horses cope with most of things we throw at them.

"He's happy, his coat is good, he's eating well and his work has been exceptional. I'm hoping he is in good form.

"His best form has been on fast ground, though I'm told he has won on soft. Dubai was very fast and firm and he liked that.

"Christophe Soumillon has a good feel for the horse.

"It would be great to have the win on the CV but if you look at his form, including in South Africa, he's either won or come nowhere. There's no grey area in between so we hope it's another win at Ascot."

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