IT’s not unusual for Mike de Kock to start his annual campaigns in Dubai with a winner and Mahubo put the stable immediately on target for the 2011 renewal of the UAE’s annual racing extravaganza at Meydan on Thursday evening.
The Summerhill-bred four-year-old looked a length or two out of his ground when the 12-horse field turned for home in the Meydan Freezone Handicap over 1200m. But as evident at the 2010 festival, this excellent track surface suits front-runners and latecomers equally well and the best horse invariably wins.
Mahubo hadn’t raced since 19 May, 2010, but, as Mike suggested in his pre-race comments, the son of National Emblem was fit enough to be in the shake-up. Halfway down the Meydan straight, Mahubo kicked into gear and he made up ground hand over fist to win fluently.
The short-head between Mahubo and Indian Skipper flattered the runner-up, because jockey Kevin Shea looked confident of winning the race well before the line and didn’t have to ride his most vigorous finish to get there.
Mike conveyed his thanks to Mahubo’s owner Friti Hay and her husband, Dr Jim Hay, and commented: “The Hays are new owners in the yard and this was their first runner with us. They live in Dubai, which makes it even better.”
Mahubo raced with a merit rating of 93, too low to qualify for the Carnival races, but this victory will change things. “We wanted to get him into the bigger races and tonight’s win was what we needed. He will improve more.”
Seven-year-old Wonder Lawn gave a good account of himself in the Meydan Hotel Conditions Mile, staying on well for a close third behind Ali Al Raihe’s Derbaas. Wonder Lawn would probably have won in a few more strides and Mike’s prediction that he is one to be watched this season should be noted.
Mahubo’s well-accomplished half-brother Imbongi, third in the 2010 Dubai Duty Free, goes to Jebel Ali racetrack on Friday for his first warm-up run of the season, a 1200m Conditions Race on dirt with his eight-year-old stable companion Hunting Tower.
“Both will come on with the run,” said Mike. “They enjoyed their long break. Imbongi looks a little fat, not as good as last year at this time, but we’re getting going with him.”
Photo: Mahubo (red cap, Kevin Shea), produced a well-timed run to beat Indian Skipper (Pat Dobbs) on the line. (ANDREW WATKINS).
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