DUBAI – Thursday’s second week of the 2009 Dubai International Racing Carnival is a marathon nine race card with the De Kock Dubai team represented in all bar two of the races, including with local/dirt debutante Diana’s Choice in the night’s feature, the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint, reports PETER WARD.
De Kock won the six-furlong dirt contest last year with Asiatic Boy and also supervised the preparation of Michael Azzie’s ill-fated National Currency who won the race in 2004. A daughter of Windrush, the four-year-old filly appears to handle the dirt well enough in her work and De Kock explained: “She has worked well enough on the dirt and gets a handy allowance as the only filly but this looks a strong renewal this year and I would be pleased with a run in the first three. Both Force Freeze and Big City Man have been impressive over course and distance this year and are joined by several other live contenders.”
Diana’s Choice, winning at Kenilworth. (Gold Circle)
Another race on the card won by the yard last year was the three-year-old conditions race over seven furlongs; Honour Devil won it last year, 12 months after Asiatic Boy had done so and both went on to complete the UAE 2000 Guineas/Derby double wearing the colours of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum (Asiatic Boy is the only horse to have won the UAE Triple Crown having also won the Al Bastakiya in which Honour Devil was runner-up to stable companion Royal Vintage last year).
However, De Kock poses a bit of a conundrum this year, saddling three, all of whom will sport the yellow silks of Sheikh Khalifa. Kevin Shea rides Rocks Off, Champion Juvenile in South Africa and a half-brother to 2006 UAE 2000 Guineas winner Gold For Sale. He has to concede weight all round as a result of his Group 1 win in the Premier’s Champion Stakes over a mile.
Also penalised is Keagan Latham’s mount Indiscutible who won two of his three starts in Chile, including a Group 3 over six furlongs on dirt. Blues and Rock, twice Group 1-placed, completes the trio and is the mount of Ryan Moore.
De Kock said: “Rocks Off is definitely far superior on what we know but is having his first start on dirt giving away lumps of weight. He seems to handle the dirt in his work but this is a big ask on these terms. A big run will secure his place in the Triple Crown races where he will be less penalised.
“Blues And Rock is probably the second string as Indiscutible has shown us little at home. That said, he won his race in Chile very well.”
Hunting Tower makes his debut for the yard in the opening 1300m turf handicap, a trip which looks on the short side but an ideal opportunity to get him back on the track after six months off. De Kock adds: “He is better over further but this is a nice place to bring him back.”
Drift Ice later contests the second leg of the same race bidding to repeat his win of 12 months ago when he went on to win on dirt and the Listed Jebel Ali Sprint which earned him an invite to the Golden Shaheen on World Cup night. He will have benefited from his recent comeback (on dirt ) and De Kock said: “He is tough, consistent and proven under the conditions. These races are not easy but he should be thereabouts.
Biarritz is another making his debut for the yard in the 1500m turf handicap, having joined, along with Quicksand who runs in the 1700m dirt handicap, from the St John D Gray yard.
De Kock elaborates: “Both are nice new recruits and should run well; Biarritz has been off for a while and Jay Peg is a top-class performer who will be hard to beat. Quicksand loves the dirt and could be a major player in a winnable race.”
Carnival regular Bennie Blue has no secrets from the handicapper and takes his chance in the 12-furlong turf handicap.
It is Jebel Ali races on Friday – the meeting postponed last week due to unfit conditions after heavy rain – and both Musaytir and Valiance, who arguably ran his best UAE race to date on this unique track, are in action. Valiance contests a six-furlong handicap, while Musaytir runs in a handicap over a furlong further. Kevin Shea rides both and the pair should go well.