The victory of the exciting Australian-bred Galileo filly Igugu in South Africa’s most famous race, the Durban July Handicap, set her trainer Mike De Kock up to challenge for an unusual intercontinental Group One double.
Durban July Handicap day at Greyville and Newmarket’s July Meeting might geographically be far apart, but both are glamorous and prestigious fixtures where the feature races are extremely competitive. To win a Group One race at each, therefore, would be a tremendous achievement – and that is what De Kock found himself with a chance of doing after Igugu’s impressive victory in Durban, with the admirable River Jetez set to line up for the Falmouth Stakes on the second day of the July Meeting.
River Jetez is a relatively recent recruit to De Kock’s string. Formerly trained in South Africa by Mike Bass, she only came under De Kock’s care at the start of this year when her globe-trotting odyssey began. Her travels have so far seen her win the Grade 2 Balanchine Stakes at Meydan during the Dubai International Carnival, after which she split Presvis and Wigmore Hall in the Dubai Duty Free on Dubai World Cup night before moving on to Singapore, where she finished a close second to Gitano Hernando in the Singapore Airlines International Cup at Kranji. After that, England beckoned, and she is now based with De Kock’s other frequent flyers in Abington Place Stables in Newmarket’s Bury Road.
River Jetez provides us with a good opportunity to line up the form in both hemispheres, because her record in her homeland is outstanding. She arrived in the UK having finished in the first three in no fewer than 16 Grade 1 or 2 races, with her best victory having come last year in South Africa’s premier weight-for-age event, the Grade 1 J&B Met over 2000m at Kenilworth in Cape Town. Most remarkable of all the many interesting aspects of that victory was the fact that it brought to an end the reign in the race of River Jetez’s older full-brother Pocket Power, who had won the race in the three previous seasons and who finished third to his sister on that occasion.
Pocket Power and River Jetez are two of the many top-class horses so far sired by South Africa’s best stallion Jet Master, a magnificent son of the impeccably-bred Northern Dancer stallion Rakeen. Jet Master was a champion in his racing days and he has proved even better at stud. So far, Jet Master’s best representative internationally has been J J The Jet Plane, who did not show his best form when racing in England (notwithstanding the fact that he finished third to Fleeting Spirit in the July Cup two years ago) but whose top-class victories now include last year’s Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin and this year’s Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan.