THE Mike de Kock string for the 2011 Dubai Racing Carnival comprises 34 horses and Mike, who is at his Dubai stables and has switched on the machines for this year’s campaign, expressed his excitement on Wednesday.
“This could be a very good Carnival for us. We have a nice cross section of old campaigners, last season’s top three-year-olds from South Africa and several new acquisitions from elsewhere,” he said.
The highly talented now four-year-old pair, Bold Silvano and Irish Flame, first and second in last year’s Durban July, tops Mike’s early list of horses to watch during the Dubai season. They’re being aimed at alternative Grade 1 features on Dubai World Cup Night, 26 March 2011.
Mike said: “Bold Silvano is impressive, in good shape and we’re very pleased with him. We intend switching him from grass to the all-weather track at Meydan. His mission is the Dubai World Cup and we’re planning his campaign via the Maktoum Challenge Races.
“Irish Flame has grown, he looks superb. He is bigger, stronger and we have high hopes for him. We’ll give him two warm-up runs with a view to running him in the Sheema Classic.”
The other members of the string, with notes by Mike, are:
Older runners (based in Dubai last season or before that):
Warsaw: “Doing fine, we’ll be looking for suitable races for him.”
Mr Brock: “He’s a game old horse, looking good, and we’ll be selecting races for him during the Carnival, hoping he could do as well as last season.”
Our Giant: “I think he will have a good season. He’s looking good and he’s sounder that he’s been. He’s moving well too, if he stays like he is now he will be competitive.”
Biarritz: “All is well, he has the mettle to pick up some prize money in suitable races.”
Imbongi: “He’s not as well as he was at this time last year, he is a bit lethargic, but he should turn the corner in due course. He’s in a Conditions Sprint over 1200m Jebel Ali on Friday and that should bring him on.”
Hunting Tower: “Another who’s doing nicely, he’s in Friday’s sprint along with Imbongi and will benefit from it.”
Musir and Raihana: “We were most disappointed in their failed Australian campaigns mid-year. Musir was sent back before he raced, the Australian vets weren’t happy with him. Raihana performed poorly, way way below her ability. Having seen them back in Dubai now I am scratching my head. Both look exceptional, on a par with this time last year, both are sound and showing good work.”
Lucky Find: “He looks happy and his work is good, we’ll look for suitable races, he can be competitive.”
Wonder Lawn: “This tough older runner is doing really well, he is one to keep an eye on this term.”
Mr Crazy Boy: “He was disappointing last year, he’s had a nice break and looks well, we’re expecting a better campaign this time. Same goes for Solid Choice, Golden Sword and King Of Rome.”
From South Africa
Absolute Heretic: “Solid Graded form in SA, he’s a nice-actioned horse that looks promising, he’s working well. He is owned by Mrs. Fitri Hay,new to the stable and we’re hoping to do well for her.”
“Mahubo: “He’s also owned by Mrs. Hay, a good looking half-brother to Imbongi with fair South African form. He doesn’t qualify for Carnival races but he is coming along nicely, he is possibly a bit better than his form and perhaps we can win a race with him in time to qualify for one of the bigger races.”
Happy Valley and Equiparada: “They have quality staying form that speaks for itself. The races we have in mind for them are the Dubai Gold Cup over 3200m and the Sheema Classic.”
Star Empire: “Promising horse from Denis Drier’s stable, I liked him back home and I still do. He could be in the league of a horse like Lucky Find, who also came from Denis and has been a wonderful campaigner here in Dubai and in the UK.”
Zanzamar: “Sheikh Hamdan’s three-year-old, to be aimed at the Triple Crown. Has taken well to the All-Weather.”
Here To Win: “She’s well, her Norwegian owners had a good run with her in South Africa, may it continue here too, she wil go the Cape Verdi/Ballanchine route. It will be a pleasure to welcome the Vikings to Dubai!
Mahbooba and Empire Rose: “Both classy fillies with lots of ability, we’ll aim them at the Fillies Guineas and the Oaks.”
River Jetez: “Impressive and talented mare, will probably go for Cape Verdi and Ballanchine, but working well on the All-Weather track and we won’t rule out races for her on this surface.”
New acquisitions, imports:
Atlantic Sport: “He’s a five-year-old by Machavellian and has raced in Germany. He is owned by a Dubai businessman, Mohammed Jaber. Doesn’t qualify for the Carnival, he looks decent, we’ll see how he goes.”
Abstrato: “Also owned by Mohammed Jaber, he raced in Brazil we do not know much about him yet.”
Anaeroba: “He is a Grade 1 winner bought by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum in Argentina. Will know more when he’s settled down in Dubai.”
Nitza: She is a young filly owned by Serge Soonyen of Mr Brock fame. She’s a filly with ability, she raced competitively at Group level in France.”
Clearly Silver: “A sprinter by Silvano who started with Denis Drier in South Africa and is now owned by Hong Kong interests. He had fair form at home, we need to see more of him here to make an assessment.
Muhtahadee: “A colt by Encosta De Lago who raced once for trainer Fozzy Stack at Dundalk in Ireland and won his Maiden over 1600m by 2 lengths. He is on his way to us and sounds like a good prospect.”
Reem: “Australian import owned by Sheikh Mohammed, SHE4 is lightly raced, Group-placed, can’t tell you too much about her yet.”
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Christophe Soumillon will once again be retained as stable jockey for the Carnival with Kevin Shea in his customary, long successful back-up role. Irish jockey Patrick “Pikey” Cosgrave has also put in an appearance to assist the stable and has picked up a few mounts.
Mike will send out his first runners in Dubai on Thursday at Meydan and on Friday at Jebel Ali. “They will all improve with their runs,” said Mike.
The carded runners at Meydan are Mahubo (Shea) who will warm up in a 1200m sprint handicap; he should be in the shake-up, while Mr Crazy Boy (Cosgrave) and Wonder Lawn (Shea) are entered for a mile on the all-weather track.
Imbongi (Shea) and Hunting Tower I(Cosgrave) will be prepping in a 1200m sprint on dirt at Jebel Ali.