Episode 1 of “As the World Trains” featuring Mike de Kock


Trainer Mike de Kock recalled super mare Igugu’s run up to the 2012 J&B Met in South Africa , “She had a respiratory problem and an ongoing foot problem that left us behind in our preparation. We ended up having to work her twice a day to catch up. She worked on the track in the morning and on the treadmill in the afternoon.”

6 races on the card at Meydan yesterday, and de Kock runners won 3 of them, despite heavy favorite Shea Shea disappointing all bettors. Mr. de Kock remains the top lifetime non-Arabic conditioner in Dubai in posting an overall record of 4-1-3 from 27 starts thus far during the 2013 Dubai Carnival meet.

Many are not aware of the severe restrictions placed on South African shippers to this oasis in the desert. Due to an outbreak of African Horse Sickness, all of de Kock’s stable had to first endure 20 days quarantine in South Africa, followed by 90 days on the African island of Mauritius, and topped off by another 30 days in Newmarket, England before being allowed into Dubai. This being the case, one can perhaps excuse the first few weeks of the Dubai meet as his horses are likely to be a bit short compared to others not enduring nearly 5 months of quarantine and 13,000 miles of air travel – yes, you read that correctly – 13,000 air miles for Igugu and the others.

I know of zero significant trainers in the US who utilize high speed treadmills for conditioning purposes (rehab doesn’t count), and I doubt any of them would put a cheap horse on the machine, much less the 2012 Horse of the Year, as Igugu was anointed in SA. Even more striking is she trained TWICE A DAY prepping for such a huge race. This South African horseman isn’t afraid to utilize every tool in his arsenal.

He’s also been quoted: “When your horse may not have the bloodlines or ability of their opponent, fitness is the one area where you can beat them. Treadmills allow you to get that extra fitness and “the edge”. That is how important they are.”

Keep an eye on Igugu, as her first effort in Dubai is likely to come in mid-February, with an eye towards a multi-million dollar purse in late March. One of the winners yesterday in Dubai, The Apache, ran 6th to Igugu back in her homeland.

(Many international readers may not know that ‘As the World Turns’ is a long running soap opera here in the states. I’ve never seen it but it runs in the middle of a workday yet is somehow viewed by millions.)

As the World Trains is my first effort at a series of very brief blog posts detailing the various methods of racehorse conditioning around the world.

Episode 2 will feature Australian legend TJ Smith.
Episode 3 stars US Hall of Famer Carl Nafzger.

EDIT: 2/4/13 – Stricter quarantine rules for SA horse coming to the US for the BC, a treadmill in a stall?

Variety Club is a stallion some are saying is one of the best milers South Africa has seen, and at the behest of owners, trainer Joey Ramsden skipped the country’s most prestigious race on Sunday – the J&B Met, in order to take on the world.

The target isn’t until November – the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita – but in order to get there Variety Club will be forced into a 60-isolation period in New York – that’s after the aforementioned home leg of the quarantine. And when we say lock down, it’s exactly what we mean – no coming out of his box. No walking and no companions.

Ramsden is working on being able to have a treadmill installed in the box for the horse to build a vital fitness base for his planned preparation.


About bpressey

Equine Exercise Physiologist

Posted on February 1, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Excellent post!!! I can’t wait to read your next post in this series and hear what you have to say about “muscle and bone!”

    • Thanks Bunny! Suffice it to say: what TJ Smith did regularly on his way to 30+ consecutive training titles is a practice that I would argue zero trainers outside of AU ever attempted.

  2. Agreed! On my website, I posted an article today featuring Redoute’s Choice, and although I know TJ Smith has no connection to him, I could not resist squeezing in a comment about the incomparable trainer!

  3. Did anyone realize Allen Jerkins ran onion in 61/2furlongs @Saratoga 4 days be four ( an set a course record ) he upset the great Secretariat I wonder if any trainer could do that today? He might be one of the best horseman trainer that ever lived !!!

  4. i’ve been unable to figure the quarantine rules or why trainers put up with them. My take would be–provide me with a quarantined training facility for without that why would I bother bringing an unfit horse? Something I am failing to understand, possibly..

    • De Kock has fought this battle for years, but this African Horse Sickness terrifies the Mideast. Apparently, thousands of horses died from it in the past. I think some testing is improving in that a horse carrying the disease can be identified early. But yes, why not allow exercise in a quarantine yard amongst the prisoners?

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