THE 2013 Dubai International Racing Carnival kicks off with an eight-race programme at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday evening.
Mike de Kock, who celebrates his 10th season in the UAE this year, is well represented with six runners on the night. When interviewed on Wednesday morning he was upbeat and confident that his first group of runners would perform well.
Mike commented: “Barring one or two horses, my string has had an opportunity to build up slower and steadier than in the last few seasons. Tonight’s runners will all improve for their outings. Things are a bit up in the air, we don’t know how fit our competitors are so it’s not easy to predict what will happen, but I’m happy that our first runners are more or less where I want them to be at the start of the season.”
This year’s opening night is presented by the Swiss watch making company Longines and four-year-old Final Button (Pat Cosgrave) will be first out for the stable in Race 2, a handicap over 1400m on the all-weather track.
“Final Button has been working extremely well on the all-weather surface,” Mike said about the former Cape-based runner who finished on the heels of champion miler Variety Club in the Gr3 Winter Guineas at Kenilworth last April.
Final Button: Good run expected on alll-weather track.
“I think the 1400m will suit Final Button well, he looks a smart sort and if he reproduces his track work I fancy he’ll be right there at the finish,” Mike said.
Last season’s classic contender, Mushreq, is a horse with much potential. He’ll be making his Carnival debut in Race 4, a Handicap over 1900m on the all-weather in the hands of Sheikh Hamdan’s contracted rider, Paul Hanagan.
Mike assessed: “Mushreq’s another horse who’s been showing very good work on this surface. He’s about as fit as we could get him for this race, he will come on as the weeks go by, but we’re keen to see how he goes here, he’s doing well.”
Five-year-old Rerouted (Christophe Soumillon), placed twice during last year’s Carnival, will take his place in the evening’s topliner, the $US125,000 Al Rashidiya Trial over 1800m on turf.
“Rerouted should give a good account of himself,” Mike said. “He has matured and he is sounder and stronger than last year so we’re expecting him to show.”
Disa Leader (Johnny Geroudis), Amanee (Soumillon) and Anaerobio (Cosgrave) will come under starters orders in Race 8, a handicap over 1400m on turf.
Jockey arrangements suggest that Amanee is the stable’s choice, but Mike felt this race was particularly hard to call. He said: “Amanee prefers slightly further, we’re preparing her for a Fillies Mile in a fortnight and she’s short of her best, though doing well.
“Disa Leader had a rushed preparation last year and despite that still placed twice in higher handicaps. He’s settled well now and I believe he’s a horse that will get better and better as the Carnival progresses. He’ll need the run, but he’s one we hope to see winning at some stage during this term.
“Anaerobio flattered only to deceive, last season. He showed flashes of his true ability but let us down a few times. He’s capable and fairly fit, but will need a lot going for him to win this race.”
Headline photo: Amanee (yellow and blue silks, winning), makes her seasonal debut and is likely to need the run.