THERE are two Carnival meetings in Dubai this weekend and Mike de Kock will saddle runners at both.
At Meydan on Thursday, Alareef (Sam Hitchcott) has been entered for Race 1, the Mina Rashid over 1600m on dirt. A South African-bred by Stronghold, the five-year-old’s formline shows four places from five starts in Dubai, but he faded right out to trail in 21 lengths behind Stormardal in a handicap on New Year’s Day and Mike said: “That was a very disappointing run I just can’t explain because Alareef is physically fine.
“I can’t predict with any measure of accuracy how he will perform in the Mina Rashid but we’ll be hoping for improvement. We’re removing his tongue-tie, perhaps the change of gear will make a difference.”
Talented Forries Waltz looks set for a good season.
Sheikh Hamdan’s Australian-bred filly, Almashooqa (Paul Hanagan), makes her Dubai debut in Race 2, the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial over 1400m on dirt, sponsored by DP World.
The stable’s Ad Idem was beaten a short-head by top class Local Time in this race last year and Mike commented: “I’d consider Al Mashooqa in the league of Ad Idem, perhaps even better. She is the second-highest rated filly in the race, but she is one of ours that had to travel from South Africa. She’s only been in training here six weeks or so, we have her probably 80-85% fit, but she is by successful sand sire Bernardini and should take to the dirt. It’s a decent field, trainer Doug Watson has a filly that won by a distance here first time out, but we’ll be crossing fingers for a good run from Al Mashooqa.”
Another older stable stalwart, Mujaarib (Hanagan), will go to post in the Listed Singspiel Stakes over 1800m on turf. The now seven-year-old raced three times in good company last season, but did seem a little lacklustre and Mike said: “Mujaarib is in better form than he was last year. He’s a happy horse, he’s got running in him and he likes to race fresh. When he arrived here two seasons ago he surprised us winning first time out winning a Group 2 race so you never know, we’re keen to see how he goes.”
Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and partners’ Forries Waltz (Christophe Soumillon) and Rock Cocktail (Wayne Smith) are two very capable form runners in a competitive handicap over 1600 on turf that closes the Thursday meeting. Mike spoke highly of both, saying: “They were among our South African travellers last year and as we’ve see with some of them, they take some time to settle in. They were some way off their best in their handful of runs last year.
“From what I’ve seen so far this term, Forries Waltz and Rock Cocktail are in a better frame of mind and their work has been good, better than last year. I’m expecting both to run well with a preference for Forries Waltz.”
There are two De Kock runners in Meydan’s opener on Saturday. Baroot (Wayne Smith) and Jununee (Dane O’Neill) will be lining up in a Maiden Plate over 1900m on dirt. Mike assessed: “Baroot ran on well over 1400m last time, if he stays the distance I fancy he can fight it out. Jununee shows us nothing at home.”