Soqrat wins Group One Horse Chestnut Stakes at Turffontein (JC Photos)
The phenomenal run of Group One success by Australian-breds in South Africa continued on Saturday night with the win of Shadwell Stud’s Soqrat in the prestigious Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes over 1600m at Turffontein.
It was the third Group One victory for the Mike de Kock trained 3YO who was named Champion South African 2YO Colt for 2017/18 after winning three of his four outings last season, including the Group One Champion Stakes.
Since resuming in the spring, Soqrat has won the Group One Cape Guineas and finished second in the Group One Queen’s Plate, while his current career tally sits at five wins and four placings from just the nine outings.
While fellow Australian-bred, Oh Susanna, was named South African Horse of the Year in 2017/18, Soqrat has taken a mighty stride toward emulating that feat, particularly given that among the vanquished on Saturday was a former horse of the year in Legal Eagle, who was going for four straight in the Horse Chestnut Stakes.
In what would be the 120th Group One win for the de Kock stable, Soqrat produced a power packed performance in the Horse Chestnut: a win enhanced by taking on the older horses, including Legal Eagle.
“Going forward, the weight for age races will be the most suitable, so we’ll discuss a program with Shadwell Stud and Angus Gold and probably look at races like the Rising Sun over 1600m and then the Champions Cup over 1800m,” the de Kock stable reported.
Shadwell Stud’s Racing Manager, Angus Gold, had to be content with watching Soqrat’s win on the TV as he was attending the Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan, but was thrilled with the win.
“He (Soqrat) really cemented himself as a very good racehorse with that win on Saturday night … he was a Champion 2YO, won the Guineas and now he’s beaten a strong field in the Horse Chestnut Stakes,” Gold enthused. “It’s difficult to say where he will progress to from here but I will discuss it with Sheikh Hamdan and the de Kock stable. Nothing is off the table but he could well end up standing at stud in South Africa for us.”
Gold has only just landed in Australia to gear up for next week’s Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale (9-10 April) and to inspect Shadwell Stud’s breeding stock in Australia, which are based at Yarraman Park Stud in the Hunter Valley.
“I’m thrilled, as always, to be back in Australia and looking forward to Easter. Shadwell has 35 mares at Yarraman Park, while there is another 230 in North America and Europe,” Gold reveals. “I usually select around six to eight to go and race in South Africa, while the ones that stay here head to Lindsay Park Racing. There are about 600 racehorses world-wide with stables in North America, Europe, Dubai and, of course, in Australia and South Africa.”
(Shadwell Stud’s association with Lindsay Park dates back to the early 80s, with the famous blue and white silks most recently carried to black type glory with Qafila capturing the Group Two Angus Armanasco Stakes at Caulfield on Blue Diamond day).
Also viewing Soqrat’s victory on Saturday night with more than a passing interest was Evergreen Stud’s principal, Tony Bott, who is poised to sell three fillies at the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale next Tuesday and Wednesday, including a close relation to the South African champ.
Lot 390 is a Sebring full sister to Hong Kong’s Group One winning sprinter, Lucky Bubbles, while the yearling filly is from stakes horse, Bubble Below: in turn a half sister to the second dam of Soqrat.
“It’s a terrific family – lot of Group winners,” Bott enthused as he prepares for next week’s action. “This has been a good year for Evergreen with some great results on the Gold Coast, while Easter should also be very strong. Certainly any pedigree ‘updates’ this close to the sale are welcome!”
Establishing Evergreen Stud around 10 years ago, Bott had previously run Segenhoe Stud for two decades and is something of a ‘proven sire’ in his own right. Bott’s son, Aaron, is the bloodstock manager for Aquis Farm, which also celebrated the weekend with stakes wins via Bellevue Hill (Group Three The Schweppervescence) and Everyday Lady (Listed Manihi Classic), while his other son, Adrian, co-trains Bellevue Hill with Hall of Famer, Gai Waterhouse.
“We (Evergreen) had been largely focussed on our pre-training and breaking facilities, but have ramped up the breeding and sales side in recent years,” Bott explains. “We sold (Group One winning 2YO and Newgate Farm sire) Sizzling as a yearling on behalf of John Muir and quite a few good colts into Hong Kong, including (Group winner) Thewizardofoz, and bought some really good mares like Courgette, the dam of (multiple Group One winner) She Will Reign and (2019 Group Two Silver Slipper winner) Time To Reign and (4-time Group One winner) Princess Coup.
“It’s certainly an exciting time to be involved in the Australian thoroughbred industry.”