KENTUCKY Derby entry Mubtaahij (photo) coasted home by five lengths in the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial over 1400m on dirt at Meydan on 15 January, defeating stable companion Ajwad. The talented pair meet again in Thursday evening’s Gr3 UAE 2000 Guineas over 1600m (Race 3) in what could be a more competitive affair.
Followers of Mike de Kock’s stable will be keen to know why stable jockey Christophe Soumillon will not be switching mounts, as he was aboard Ajwad when Dane O’Neill partnered Mubtaahij in the mentioned race.
Mubtaahij on his way to an easy win over Ajwad in the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial. Closer this time?
Mike commented on Wednesday: “Christophe has difficulty with making the weight allocated to Mubtaahij but that said, he has decided to stick with Ajwad as he has made good improvement since the Guineas Trial. He has improved several lengths.”
With O’Neill suspended, jockey Pat Dobbs has secured the ride on Mubtaahij and he will be keen to make this chance a winning feature ride. Mike said: “Mubtaahij himself has come on well since winning the Guineas Trial. Both runners are very well at the moment and while you have to respect Christophe’s choice, the formbook shows that Ajwad won’t find it easy to turn the tables, it’s an interesting race!”
Christophe Soumillon will avoid the sweat box and stay with the capable Ajwad.
The stable steps out five-year-old entire Darwin (Soumillon) in the Gr3 Firebreak Stakes over a mile on dirt for which Land Rover have put up a $US200,000 stake.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and partners acquired Darwin from Coolmore in Ireland, where he won a Listed race on turf. He was also Gr1 placed on turf in the UK and has shown his new trainer good pieces of work in his preparation gallops.
Mike told: “Darwin has shown us some of his ability and if he takes to the dirt he should be involved in the outcome. He won his first race on dirt at Belmont Park in the US but we can’t safely predict how he will shape on the Meydan surface, so only the race will show.”
Here are Mike’s comments about his runners in other races:
Race 2: Handicap over 2000m on turf:
Rock Cocktail (Soumillon); Almoonqith (Paul Hanagan)
“We have two nice runners here, both are very well. Rock Cocktail has improved significantly in the spell after his Dubai debut and Almoonqith ran a big race in strong company last time when he didn’t have a trouble-free passage late. I’m not going to separate them.”
Race 5: Handicap over 2400m on turf:
Sanshaawes (Soumillon); Star Empire (Hanagan) and El Estruendoso (Wayne Smith)
“Sanshaawes has made his mark among the better runners here and we’re trying him over 2400m for the first time. I’ve been keen for a while to put him over more ground and my gut feel says he’ll stay every inch of the way, I think he’ll be a serious contender here. Star Empire is getting long in the tooth, but he actually ran a pretty good race last week and he’s not yet done, he stays all day and he’s not out of it. El Estruendoso ran a better race last time but he’s still almost dead in the water off his high rating. He will get a more aggressive ride this time and can sneak into the money.”
Zahee works up a storm – his winning turn could be close.
Race 7: Handicap over 1800m on turf:
Mujaarib (Johnny Geroudis); Zahee (Soumillon); Mushreq (Hanagan)
“Mujaarib needs another run to bring him on, the other two should feature prominently. Zahee has plenty of ability, his form arguably doesn’t show him for the horse he is. He has some fair form here over 1900m, we’re trying him over 1800m and that could be up his alley, we’ll be looking for a big effort. Mushreq is peaking, he’s doing very well and is course and distance suited, he’ll be right there.”
Photos supplied by the evergreen Andrew Watkins.