Michael de Kock Trainer
Mike doesn’t hail from a racing background, but as a youngster he nurtured his dreams of training thoroughbred horses and travelling the world. He grew up near the old Newmarket racecourse in Alberton, South Africa and counted among his early school friends David Ferraris, today a successful trainer in Hong Kong.
To establish a base of knowledge, he joined the SA Defence Force’s Equestrian Unit at 18. He attributes his trademark skill of getting his horses super fit to his two years in the army, a period in which he was required to prepare them for combat and endurance races. David gave Mike a foot in the door to the stable of master trainer Ormond Ferraris. Here he was taught the principle of attention to detail, a vital aspect which lies today at the heart of his success, so much so that his family and friends will confirm that Mike, the individual, is as sharp as a razor blade and “never misses anything!"
Mike worked as a stable assistant in a few other training yards and was “penniless, frustrated and ready to back-pack around the world” when his big break came along.His then boss, trainer Ricky Howard-Ginsberg, passed away unexpectedly, leaving the 23-year-old in charge of a 50-strong racing string. The stable’s patrons had been impressed by the young Mike’s natural way with horses and his stable management and decided unanimously to leave their runners in his care.
Mike saddled his first winner as a licenced trainer within a few weeks, in December 1988. His first Group 1 triumph came after only fourth months later when the filly Evening Mist won the Administrator’s Champion Stakes at Turffontein.
Committed to living his dream Mike has enjoyed astonishing worldwide success in his quarter century-plus of training. An eight times National Champion Trainer in South Africa, Mike has won every major race in his country of birth at least once, including four Durban July Handicaps, two J&B Mets and a record nine Summer Cups. He’s won races on four continents in places like England, the USA, Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai. He has prepared over 2500 winners, including 95 Group 1s.
In recent years Mike has rattled cages all over the world with stars like Asiatic Boy, Eagle Mountain, Archipenko and Lizard’s Desire and has also acquired the support of Sheikh Hamdan of Dubai. Mike still regards his erstwhile South African Triple Crown winner Horse Chestnut as the best he has trained.
Mike is married to Diane, who pre-trains the stable’s young and unraced horses. They have a son Mathew (who has joined his dad as an assistant) and daughter Kirsten, who has her sights set on a career in dancing.
Mike de Kock Racing