“RACING’s not about pushing buttons,” said Mike de Kock on the eve of star mare Igugu’s international debut in Dubai on Thursday.
Igugu (Christophe Soumillon) will line up in the Gr2 Balanchine over 1800m on turf at Meydan following a 13-month layoff and Mike said: “She’s only flesh and blood and it’s never easy for any racehorse to come back after such a long rest to win. There are some pundits who believe Igugu can’t lose, but we don’t think it’s as easy at that.”
That said, Mike felt confident that the South African champion would run well. He said: “Igugu’s had a good, steady preparation. She’s never been a great work horse, but she’s happy and sound and we’ve had no issues with her. The race will show if she still has her competitive spirit. We’ve done what we can to get her fit and now it’s up to her. We’re hoping she’ll produce what we know she is capble of.”
Mike gave Await The Dawn (Pat Cosgrave), a fighting chance in a 2000m handicap on turf that opens the meeting, saying: “He’s improved. He should be a big runner.”
Specific Gravity (Soumillon), gets another chance in a handicap over 1900m on the all-weather. “He ran on too late last time, it’s a smaller field so he can be ridden with more confidence in this race. We’re being a bit hard on him, but we’re running out of options, the Carnival only allows a limited number of chances.”
Mushreq (Paul Hanagan), Masterofhounds (Cosgrave) and Musir (Soumillon) will come under starter’s orders in the Al Fahidi Fort over 1600m on turf and Mike has high hopes for Mushreq. He commented: “Mushreq has improved greatly, he’s a serious contender. Musir has returned from a spell at stud, he proved to be infertile. He and Masterofhounds will need their runs.”