x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Sprint star stakes his claim

JJ The Jet Plane, sends a warning shot for Royal Ascot by winning his listed preparation race at Windsor by a breezy four lengths on Monday.

JJ The Jet Plane with Kevin Shea on the saddle winning the AL Quoz Sprint in Dubai in February.
JJ The Jet Plane with Kevin Shea on the saddle winning the AL Quoz Sprint in Dubai in February.

The crack South African sprinter, JJ The Jet Plane, sent a warning shot across the bows of accomplished Golden Jubilee Stakes contenders, winning his listed preparation race at Windsor by a breezy four lengths on Monday. JJ The Jet Plane, a son of Jet Master, is trained by Mike de Kock and was ridden by the champion jockey, Ryan Moore.

The five-year-old gelding, carrying top weight, made like his namesake and accelerated away from the field halfway down the straight after being asked by his jockey. De Kock now expects him to improve still more for his outing among world-class company at the Royal Ascot showpiece in three week's time. De Kock's assistant trainer, Ka Ming Ma, who accompanied the horse to Windsor, said JJ The Jet Plane had come out of his run sound.

All the best stories in racing seem to begin with an undersized, knock-kneed youngster in a small horse sale and follow a path not a million miles from the plot of the ugly duckling fable; JJ The Jet Plane's tale is no different. Bought for Dh32,000 three years ago in South Africa by Hennie du Preez, the horse was taken to the yard of jockey-turned-trainer, Lucky Houdalakis. "He wasn't much to look at," admitted Houdalakis yesterday.

"His legs didn't seem quite straight and he was almost too small to see in the stable. I didn't do much with him to start with." But it wasn't long before JJ The Jet Plane gave notice of his talent. "I got him in August and stood off him until November because I don't like to push them," said Houdalakis, who maintains part-ownership. "He grew and we had a filly who was lightning fast and nothing could work with her. But the way he gave her a beating one morning I knew he had something."

Just how much he has will only become apparent when he takes on proven sprinters, Takeover Target and Sacred Kingdom, both with their own interesting histories, under regular jockey Kevin Shea. "I'm impressed with this horse," said de Kock, yesterday, who masterminds JJ The Jet Plane's international training. "I don't think Lucky or Coenie Strydom and the other owners will recognise him. He has matured and grown into something quite imposing."

stregoning@thenational.ae