South African trainer Mike De Kock has unveiled plans for a base in Newmarket from which to train horses from his home country when they are running in the Northern hemisphere. The plan, which operates under the name “Team South Africa”, will operate from the Abington Place stables.
De Kock will maintain his operation in South Africa, and also in Dubai, where he already has a full time yard, managed by his assistant Trevor Brown. He is, therefore, no stranger to operating from multiple sites. The plan comes to fruition following the sale of Abington Place by Sheikh Khalifa Al Maktoum to Mary Slack, a daughter of the Oppenheimer family, who has long supported racing throughout the world. Both have had horses with De Kock for many years and will continue to do so.
One of the drivers behind Team South Africa is to overcome some of the restrictive quarantine requirements; the same reason De Kock has a permanent base in Dubai. De Kock trains South African horse of the year Igugu, who he plans to run in the Dubai World Cup next year. But because of the risk of spreading African Horse Sickness, she had to spend 20 days in quarantine in South Africa in June this year, before heading to Mauritius four months ago for a further 90 days in isolation. She’ll complete her preparation for Dubai in Newmarket, but will have to undergo a further 30 days in quarantine here before she can run.
Speaking about the new arrangement De Kock said, “Everything is much easier to get to from here. From Newmarket you can race in Europe. I would like to start sending horses to France, plus Canada, America, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.”
The unique feature of Team South Africa is that De Kock hopes he will be able to become a kind of temporary trainer for horses from other South African yards that are scheduled to run in the Northern hemisphere, and by making places available, increase the numbers who do so. Explaining the concept he said, “I have the infrastructure here for other owners and trainers to send their horses and it’s something that could work really well for all parties. We can do what others want done with their horses and also offer our own input.”