THE De Kock team will step out a number of relatively unknown quantities at the meeting to be held at Meydan in Dubai on Friday.
Three new acquisitions will make their first appearances in the UAE and another will be expected to improve on his disappointing first run at the track last week.
Five-year-old Viscount Nelson, by Giant’s Causeway and four-year-old Mutahdee (Encosta De Lago), have thus far done most of their racing in Ireland and return from layoffs to contest a handicap over 1800m on turf. Both have rested since 3 September 2011, when they ran together in a 2000m race at Leopardstown.
Viscount Nelson, winning at the Curragh.
Viscount Nelson (Kevin Shea up) has two Listed wins and a Group 1 place to his credit, while lightly-raced Mutahdee (Christophe Soumillon) is Gr2 and Gr 3 placed from four starts.
Mike commented: “They are two promising horses on the up, but they need slightly further. It’s hard to tell, they will improve with the outings, but we’re expecting them to show their silks.”
Johnny Geroudis will be partnering former Mauritian-based gelding, Disa Leader, in a turf handicap over 1600m and going to post along with Soumillon’s mount, Anaerobio.
Six-year-old Disa Leader has won ten races, several of them in the hands of Johnny G. He is owned by the Gilbert Rousset Syndicate and was considered more than good enough on the island to be tested at this higher level in the desert, where another former leading Mauritian runner, Mr Brock, has been so successful over the last few years.
Disa Leader, Mauritian champion.
Mike said: “Disa Leader has only been with us since the middle of December so he still has improvement to come. It remains to be seen whether he will be good enough to make an impression off his 109 rating, but his work has been impressive and we need to get his campaign on the road. He should run well.”
Anaerobio was disappointing when he faded out in his first Dubai run on 5 January, finishing near 12 lengths off the winner. Mike said: “We expected more from him because his track work is really good. On the strength of his home gallops he should have showed more enthusiasm on his debut here, but he was a spent force after 800m. That said, he needed the run badly and deserves another chance. We’ve changed his bit and will be tying his tongue down, so let’s cross our fingers for a better run.”
The mentioned Mr Brock (Shea) will ensure that racing enthusiasts in Mauritius enjoy an interesting evening, as the game eight-year-old will be the first saddled by the De Kock team in 2000m handicap on the all-weather track.
“Mr Brock is well within himself at his age, he is sound and in good form,” said Mike about the 2009 Listed Abu Dhabi Championship winner. He felt that Mr Brock had a money chance, but that it would be difficult to beat Godolphin’s Gr2 winner Prince Bishop, who is handicapped to win with his rating having dropped from 118 to 110.
The Gr2 Cape Verdi over 1600m on turf tops the bill at the meeting and Mike, who won the race in 2008 with Sun Classique, will saddle Reem (Shea) and Mahbooba (Soumillon) in this year’s renewal.
“This is not the strongest Cape Verdi I’ve seen, but it will be very competitive all the same and I think First City is the horse to beat,” Mike assessed. “Mahbooba comes back inn trip, but she has a chance, she is very well and can be competitive here. Reem has come on from her run last week, she has some good turf form in Dubai and we’re hoping she can reproduce her 2011 Carnival run to River Jetez.”