HORSES from all over the world have converged on Dubai’s wonder racecourse Meydan for Dubai World Cup night 2011, reports ROBERT GARNER.
This is the Olympics of horseracing and South Africa will be well represented with 13 contenders.
Nine of these 13 are trained by global superstar Mike de Kock. Joburg-based Lucky Houdalakis will saddle JJ The Jet Plane in the Al Quoz Sprint on turf and Singapore-based Pat Shaw will send out Rocket Man in the 1200m Golden Shaheen on the synthetic track. Herman Brown has new acquisition Sweet Ducky in the UAE Derby and Bankable in the Dubai Duty Free.
Here’s how De Kock sees his prospects on the big night.
He is obviously devastated that stable big gun Bold Silvano is out of the world’s richest race, the $10-million Dubai World Cup, but he’s hoping that his nine runners at the world’s richest race meeting will yield a winner.
Musir (Kevin Shea), galloping at the work track.
Bold Silvano went lame behind after his final major workout and plans to run in-form Golden Sword in the $5-million Dubai Sheema Classic over 2400m have been scrapped. Golden Sword will now join stablemate Musir in the Dubai World Cup and Irish Flame will be the stable’s sole representative in the Sheema Classic.
Golden Sword, runner-up in the Irish Derby of his year and fifth behind Sea The Stars in the Epsom equivalent, disappointed in Dubai last year. But he’s come well during this year’s Racing Carnival with a second first time up followed by two fluent victories, the last in track record time over the course and distance of the Dubai World Cup.
“He had all sorts of problems, but he’s settled down this year and is enjoying his time here,” said De Kock. “He has run very well on the synthetic track and must have an outside chance, although he will have to up his game because he’s taking on much stronger opposition than during the Carnival.”
Kevin Shea will be in the saddle with No 1 stable jockey Christophe Soumillon on Musir.
“Christophe had the choice and picked Musir. I would have done the same. Musir’s whole preparation has been aimed at the Dubai World Cup and I think he can run a big one,” De Kock said.
Zanzamar, prepping with Trevor Brown in the irons.
Musir has lots to find with current World Cup favourite Twice Over, who beat him by nearly three lengths in Round 3 of the Maktoum Challenge. They meet on the same terms and Twice Over is rated eight points (4kg) better, but you can expect Musir to get a lot closer this time.
Irish Flame, Horse of the Year in South Africa last season and a close second to his stablemate in the Vodacom Durban July, hasn’t looked the same force in Dubai, finishing unplaced in two runs on turf and then on the synthetic surface.
“He hasn’t run a bad race here and he hasn’t run a good one,” De Kock said. “This is his best trip and I’m hoping he will put his best foot forward. But he’s looking for soft going and he’s not going to get it.”
DUBAI DUTY FREE:
De Kock will saddle two bang-in-form runners in 2009 J&B Met winner River Jetez and Raihana.
“They have both done well here and there’s not much between them. Christophe is riding Raihana for Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum with Bernard Fayd’herbe on River Jetez. But it’s a very competitive race and both will have to improve to win.”
Raihana was beaten 0.50 lengths by Derbaas last time out and they meet on identical terms, while Presvis and Debussy will be even bigger problems if they fire on the night.
De Kock is chasing his sixth winner in this contest, having won five times in the past with Victory Moon (2003), Lundy’s Liability (04), Asiatic Boy (07), Honour Devil (08) and Musir last year. Godolphin trainer Saeed Bin Suroor has won all the other runnings of the UAE Derby since it was first held in 2000.
De Kock has got three runners in Zanzamar and fillies Mahbooba and Reem. “The fillies’ form is stronger than that of the colts and I prefer Mahbooba to Reem. But this is a very competitive race and it’s going to be tough to win with the likes of Aidan O’Brien’s Master Of Hounds and John Gosden’s Utley,” said De Kock.
De Kock will saddle Imbongi and will be over the moon if his charge makes the placings. “I think if he runs third or fourth it will be a massive run.”
River Jetez (Bernard Fayd’Herbe up), big runner in Duty Free.
De Kock is the international trainer with the best record on Dubai World Cup night, having saddled 10 winners since he first set up Grandstand Stables in 2003, so what does he reckon his best chance of success is this Saturday?
“I honestly don’t know. Perhaps the Dubai Duty Free in which I have a strong coupling.”
All photos exclusive to Mdk Racing, by Andrew Watkins.