Champion mare Igugu had to endure quarantine conditions and an interrupted preparation before her history-making victory in the Group 1 J & B Met at Kenilworth on Saturday.
The Australian bred champion was as game as ever winning the Western Cape’s richest race. She scored by a half-length from front-runner Bravura and up-and-coming Queen’s Plate winner Gimmethegreenlight.
Igugu (4f Galileo – Zarinia by Intikhab) also became the first horse in 75 years to double up in the Durban July and J & B Met. Bred and sold by Kia Ora Stud, she cost $65,000 at the 2009 Inglis Melbourne Premier yearling sale.
Trainer Mike De Kock was humbled by Igugu’s performance against the odds. “She almost had no right to win,” he said. “She’s probably only 90% so to dig down deep and win was just unbelievable.”
De Kock had been on tenterhooks after the State Veterinarian ruled Igugu be held at the Kenilworth Quarantine Station after arriving from his Randjesfontein stables. She was quarantined following a recent outbreak of African Horse Sickness within 30km of her home base which is situated between Jo’burg and Pretoria.
It was an 18 hour float trip to Cape Town and De Kock was then unable to check on her condition except through a viewing window.
Igugu also developed a respiratory infection and missed an important lead-up in the G1 Paddock Stakes. “I didn’t need anybody to tell me that she enjoyed a far from perfect preparation,” De Kock said. “But she scoped 100% clear with a very good blood count and her last gallop was very good.”
Igugu’s last loss was at the hands of Ebony Flyer in the 2010 Cape Fillies Guineas. Saturday’s career-best performance improved her record to 10 wins in 12 starts. Ebony Flyer (Jet Master) won the G1 Majorca Stakes against fillies and mares an hour before the J & B Met.
De Kock wants Igugu to join his northern hemisphere team but she has been stranded at home after authorities imposed an export ban as a result of African Horse Sickness. “We will take her back to Johannesburg and then find out about the protocols,” De Kock said after claiming his third J & B Met. “If we can’t get her out of the country, we will go for another Durban July.”
Igugu is a daughter of Coolmore champion Galileo and her dam Zarinia was bred by The Aga Khan from the family of his 2008 Arc de Triomphe winner Zarkava (Zamindar). Her 2yo half-brother Honorius (Holy Roman Emperor) finished fourth in two starts at Rosehill in December.
Zarinia foaled a Shamardal filly in September and was bred back to High Chaparral.