Australian bred mare Igugu (4m Galileo x Zarinia, by Intikhab) had a few issues to overcome leading into the prestigious Group I J and B Met at Kenilworth on Saturday, but even at only 90% was still good enough to beat the best in South Africa.
The Mike de Kock trained mare missed an important lead up to this race due to a respiratory infection and has also been forced to move into quarantine stabling owing to African Horse Sickness restrictions, which have prevented her going to the Dubai Carnival.
Despite these concerns, Igugu still produced her A game for the 2000 metre feature, settling off the pace set by Bravura and then sprinting home late to overhaul the leader and win by half a length.
“This wasn’t the Igugu who won the Durban July. She came out sluggish and in the early part of the race she was cut into. When we got to 150 metres out I thought I might run second,” said winning rider Anthony Delpech.
“Then in the last 50 metres, they began to come back to me and she really came to herself. It just shows you that a true champion will do it.”
It was Mike De Kock’s third Met win and also one of the most difficult he has ever achieved.
“Igugu showed today why she is a champion,” said the trainer. “I was considering taking her out but she worked so well on Tuesday that I said ‘put her in the van’.
“She then travelled 18 hours to get here and she had to stay in the course quarantine station from dawn to dusk. Even today we had to take her out at 10am.
“She wasn’t at her best and she was probably only 90 per cent. We expected her to be in front from the start but she was sluggish. To win was amazing and I am humbled by her performance. It just shows you the guts, heart and courage that she has. I am proud of her and of everybody who has anything to do with her.”
Igugu was bred by Kia Ora Stud and fetched $65,000 when offered at the 2009 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale where she was bought by Livestock Traders. She was then sold for 1million Rand from the Summerhill draft at the 2009 Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale in South Africa and is raced by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and Mr and Mrs A J Macdonald.
By champion sire Galileo, Igugu has the impressive record of 10 wins and two seconds from 12 starts and is the second foal of Zarinia (IRE), an Intikhab mare from the family of champion mare and Arc winner Zarkava.
Zarinia has no yearling for the sales in 2012, but was covered by High Chaparral last year.
Kia Ora Stud retained the first foal of Zarinia, which is an unraced full sister to Igugu called Gayika, who produced her first foal last year, a colt by Fastnet Rock and she is back in foal to the same sire.