WE’RE about to enter the always exciting last third of the 2011 Dubai Racing Carnival. Mike termed this Thursday evening’s meeting at Meydan, “the last roll of the dice”, for who we may respectfully refer to as the stable’s stalwart “second-stringers”.
Hunting Tower, Wonder Lawn, Star Empire, Atlantic Sport, Solid Choice, Warsaw and Mahubo already have a busy season behind them, but due to the condensed nature of the racing calendar this is probably the last chance for most to be really competitive. They’re sound and well, and they have to race!
Next week sees the Carnival’s “Super Thursday”, the traditional curtain-raiser, if you wish, for the Dubai World Cup meeting. The stable will soon be focusing on fine-tuning its major contenders with a view to the big prizes available on 26 March.
Mike commented: “We’ve had to run some of our horses at back-to-back race meetings in races we wouldn’t ordinarily consider the ideal pickings. We’ve been forced to do things differently, but our results have been really good, they’ve all done well.
Mike said that his feed mix, developed by Dr Rensia de Wet and Epol and used in Dubai this season, played a huge part in this season’s success, so much so that he is at times “shocked” how good it actually is.
“Our runners have been able to withstand the pressures of Carnival training much better than in previous seasons. We’ve had to ask even more of them due to the cramped race programme. They’ve handled it remarkably well.”
Star Empire: Tough customer. (Andrew Watkins)
Mike noted that Star Empire, for example, came out of his testing 2800m contest last week as fresh and happy as he could be. A workmanlike second last week, he will race again over 2200m on the all-weather and looks ideally course and distance suited for his owners and jockey Christophe Soumillon.
“Star Empire is a tough horse, he has a healthy appetite and he enjoys his work. He’s as ready to race as he was last week and he should give another good account.”
Hunting Tower and Wonder Lawn will race over 2000m on turf in the Jaguar FX, a handicap that opens the meeting.
“Hunting Tower should have no problem with the switch to turf after his win on the All-Weather, he’s in form and can earn a stake, even though this is a stronger field. Wonder Lawn hasn’t raced on turf at Meydan, but we don’t foresee any problems either, we’re hoping he can place, his work is good.”
Mike wasn’t impressed with Tiego Pereira’s ride on Atlantic Sport last week and Kevin Shea takes back the reins in a 1200m handicap on the All-Weather. He finished on the heels of Our Giant in a Conditions Sprint over the track and trip earlier this season and on that alone has claims here. “He’s taken his runs well, he has a good money chance.”
Solid Choice hasn’t been easy to follow, but he’s a horse with ability and Mike believes he will go close to winning if he sees out 1900m in Race 4, a handicap on the All Weather.
The Group 3 UAE Oaks over 1900m (AW), tops the bill and the stable is confident that Mahbooba (headline photo by Andrew Watkins) will deliver what is expected of her – a good victory! “Her form says it all.” Stablemate Empire Rose, improving in her work, has definite place prospects.
Mahubo: Should go well over a mile. (Andrew Watkins)
Warsaw encountered traffic problems last week and is expected to challenge for top honours if he sees out a mile on turf (Race 8). Stablemate Mahubo ran a cracking race when finishing second over 1400m last week. He had no problems with 1600m in South Africa and he is likely to produce a game effort too.