FROM RACING EXRESS: ‘Off The Bit’ by Mike de Kock (The Citizen, January 2007): CLICHED or not, I have to use the expression “time flies’’, because this is the fifth consecutive season my stable will be competing in Dubai. It feels like our desert pioneers Ipi Tombe and Victory Moon won just yesterday, but in reality their successes go back to 2003.
Since then the international competition has grown stronger every year, thankfully so too has our base of owners. As the 2007 Dubai Carnival gets in full swing, top horses will again descend upon the UAE from all parts of the globe.
I have been asked several times recently if I have mapped out exact plans for the members of my 2007 string, but I won’t be committing myself early or making any predictions this year.
I have a powerful and exciting group of horses – 23 in total – and since most of them arrived late from South Africa, I haven’t pushed them to be ready for the first part of the season. I am not 100% sure which horses will be running in which races, those details will emerge as the Carnival unfolds over the next few weeks.
We will be stepping out four runners in preparation at the first Carnival meeting at Nad Al Sheba tomorrow, 18 January. Candidato Roy will be racing over 1777m on turf, Diamond Quest and Engrupido will race over 1500m on turf and Asiatic Boy will line up in a conditions race over 1400m on dirt.
Of the four, three-year-old Asiatic Boy should go close. He is Group 1 placed in Argentina and will come into this race needing it less than the other three, so to speak.
In South Africa we will have runners in each of the Grade 1 races on J&B Met day. Equal Image and Emperor Napoleon will represent us in the big race, Bold Ellinore will face the starter in the Majorca Stakes and Tarwood will line up in the Cape Derby.
Emperor Napoleon (Mike Destombes’ purple silks), in a tussle with Divine Jury.
Someone asked me today, “Why aren’t you running Emperor Napoleon in the Derby, isn’t that an easier picking?’’ My answer was, “No, I only have one chance to win the Met with a three-year-old. No race is an easy picking, there are more three-year-old classics to come. In Emperor Napoleon I believe we have a horse capable of winning the race, however difficult it looks for him on paper.’’
One person who believes that Emperor Napoleon has no chance whatsoever is Cape-based racing expert Robert Bloomberg, who publicly stated at the draw that our horse is a “no-hoper’’ and asked commentator Jehan Malherbe to quote him verbatim.
What tickles me immensely, however, is that Bloomberg also went on record saying that he will “give up racing’’ if Emperor Napoleon finishes in the first four!
Now this is a dangling carrot that really makes me more determined than ever to make the frame with Emperor Napoleon.
A few years ago we got pie on our faces when we gently mocked Bloomberg’s July runners on my website and Dunford went on to win the big race.
At the time we faced up to our comments, apologised and wished Bloomberg well. If we get the right end of the stick this time, I wonder if Bloomberg will honour his promise?
In 2000 we won the J&B Met with three-year-old Badger’s Coast, who was drawn 20 of 20 runners. I see no reason why Emperor Napoleon – to my mind a better horse than Badger’s Coast – can’t do the same in 2007.