KEVIN Shea posted his fifth win in the Gr 2 Al Fahidi Fort over 1600m at Meydan on Thursday evening, riding Viscount Nelson to a half-a-length success over Albaasil. Stablemate Master Of Hounds finished third.
Shea has been associated with a number of illustrious names from years gone by, having won this race on the likes of Ipi Tombe, Linngari and Archipenko, but this win was pretty much as sweet if not sweeter for Mike de Kock’s long-serving stable rider.
Shea, who was racing near the back of the field Viscount Nelson, coaxed a well-timed finish from the five-year-old by Giant’s Causeway to snatch victory from Albaasil in the last 50m. He only showed Viscount Nelson the stick in the closing stages and this was an eye-catching success.
Kevin loved this win! Viscount Nelson, post-race. (Andrew Watkins).
An 8-1 chance in the international market, Viscount Nelson had suffered a bruised sole in the run-up to the Al Fahidi Fort which put him out of work for a few days, underlining the merit of this win.
“We haven’t got to the bottom of him yet,” said Shea, a comment echoed by Mike de Kock. “Viscount Nelson is a good horse and he is up to Group 1 quality. He’s the type of horse that will be able to pick up a Gr 1 race in Singapore or Hong Kong, where the fields are not as strong as they are in the UK.”
He added: “Viscount Nelson had good form coming into the race, the form from his run to Mutahadee stood up. And this was not a weak field.”
Mike praised his Dubai training team and said: “This was a massive effort by my team. Viscount Nelson is not an easy horse to train. We spend several hours with him every morning. He’s a Dubai Duty Free contender.”
Viscount Nelson is leased from Coolmore Stud’s John Magnier and breeders Mr and Mrs Gary Nagle – by the partnership of Katrina Partridge, Chris Haynes and Gary Grant, Jehan Malherbe, Dr John McVeigh and Mike himself. “We are grateful to Messers Magnier and Nagle and well done to the partners,” said Mike.
He said about Master Of Hounds: “I am happy with this turf run. He was bumped and bumped again and if you watch the replay you can argue he was unlucky not to have won.”
Zanzamar (Richard Hills), raced to an impressive win in the Range Rover Trophy.
Mike had said pre-race that Zanzamar was a “big runner” in the Range Rover Trophy over 2000m on turf, but Sheikh Hamdan’s four-year-old South African-bred by Fort Wood was easy to support still, starting around 18-1 in the betting market with bookmakers.
Richard Hills kept Zanzamar at the end of the first bunch runners – the field had split in two as they started racing for home – but Zanzamar made up the ground effortlessly when Hills asked him to go, racing in easy style in the jockey’s hands to win going away by 1.5-lengths.
“Zanzamar had fetlock joint surgery after last year’s Carnival,” Mike commented. “He was placed at Gr 1 level on turf in South Africa and we’ll step him up to Group level in Dubai now with a view to a race like the Dubai City Of Gold. We expect him to improve more. We’ve always thought a bit of him.”