Over the years De Kock has taken a number of horses from Aidan O Brien's Ballydoyle stable. Last weekend one of them, David Livingston, won the Group 3 Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock. It was a first win for the horse since he moved to his new yard during last winter. Now De Kock hopes he will be able to kickstart the career of this year's Derby sixth placed horse, Mars. Since winning his maiden last July Mars has been campaigning at the highest level, but has yet to prove that he's a horse that can cut it in top-class racing.
De Kock said, "I can't wait to train him. This is a wonderful opportunity to compete at the highest level with a top horse and my thanks go to Coolmore and the syndicate (that has sold him)." It will be a few weeks before Mars moves from Ireland to the Abington Place stables in Newmarket where De Cock’s British runners are based.
The trainer was on the lookout for a top-class jockey after Christophe Soumillon was ruled out of York's meeting next week through suspension. He quickly signed up Frankie Dettori to ride Shea Shea in the Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes. The ride will give Dettori his best chance of a Group 1 success since he return to riding in May this year. The opportunity couldn't come at a better time for the Italian, as so far this month he's ridden seven winners and 12 placed horses from 33 rides.
Dettori said, "I've ridden for Mike in Dubai. He asked me to ride Shea Shea and he's a great ride to have. At the moment he's the only one I can think of in the big races next week, although I’ve plenty in the handicaps." The trainer was optimistic that his horse would justify favouritism in the race. He said on his website, "He's doing well and he should be at his best for the race. It's an easier five furlongs than at Ascot, where he was beaten late by Sole Power, so we're hoping it will suit him perfectly."
De Kock's problems with the Turkish authorities relate to The Apache, which the trainer wanted to run in the Topkapi Stakes in Istanbul next month. The Apache has done most of his racing in South Africa, and like every racehorse there has been vaccinated for African Horse Sickness. Turkish government rules do not allow entry to horses vaccinated for the disease. Yet, De Kock trained the winner of this race two years ago with Musir, who had been similarly vaccinated, but appears to have escaped a ban because he had been bred in Australia. He branded the decision "senseless."
Racing South Africa’s chief executive Peter Gibson has taken up the cudgels on behalf of the trainer with his counterpart in the Turkish Jockey Club. In a letter he said, "I have requested the South African Veterinary Authority to communicate with the Turkish veterinary authority in this regard, but would appreciate the Jockey Club of Turkey taking this up with your authority as a matter of urgency. Without the intervention of the industry, there will be no drive to rectify what is clearly an unscientific and irrelevant import condition."