WITH five victories to his name, no-one has won more renewals of the Al Fahidi Fort than Mike de Kock and Thursday’s racing sees the South African maestro with three more chances to land a record victory in the Group 2 feature race.
The revamped contest is the highlight of a Gulf News-sponsored Dubai World Cup Carnival card and 14 have been declared for the first turf feature of 2014, contested this year over 1400m instead of its former distance of 1600m.
Anaerobio, set to make another bold bid. (Andrew Watkins)
De Kock’s great record in the race began in 2003 with subsequent Dubai Duty Free winner Ipi Tombe. He has won the last two renewals of the Al Fahidi Fort with Viscount Nelson landing the prize in 2012 followed by Mushreq’s victory a year later.
This time he saddles dual course and distance winner, Anaerobio the mount of Christophe Soumillon, as well as Kavanagh and Gale Force Ten.
Thierry Thulliez rides Kavanagh, fifth in last week’s Dubawi Stakes while Pat Cosgrave will be in the saddle on Gale Force Ten, a 1400m Royal Ascot winner last year for Aidan O’Brien and having a first start for his new yard.
“Anaerobio won well two weeks ago and delighted us,” said De Kock. “When he arrived in Dubai we really thought he was a classic hope but he missed that year and it took a long time to get him back near his best.
“This is the obvious place to test him over his optimum conditions.
“Kavanagh ran well on his first start back, the extra 200m should help and the switch to turf is not a problem.
“This was always the plan to start Gale Force Ten off here. Like all mine who have been through quarantine, he is likely to need his first run.”
De Kock’s compatriot, Herman Brown, also won this race three times so a South African victory here would see the country’s trainers claim a ninth win in the race. And De Kock is not the only South African gunning for Al Fahidi Fort glory as Sean Tarry saddles Durban July winner, Heavy Metal. The mount of Johnny Geroudis, he has to concede weight to his 13 rivals and is dropping considerably in trip.
De Kock has been supervising Heavy Metal’s preparation and Tarry’s runner is also expected to need the run.
Frankie Dettori, making his UAE comeback after sustaining the broken ankle that prevented him from taking the ride on the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe winner, Treve in the summer, rides Mshawish for his main employer, HE Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Al Thani. Trained by Mikel Delzangles, Mshawish was fourth in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2013.
A fascinating field is completed by Roi De Vitesse, representing Bahrain, and a good fourth behind Anaerobio on his local debut.
The best of the handicaps is over 2000m on the all-weather and features the return to action of Aidan O’Brien’s 2012 UAE Derby winner, Daddy Long Legs, now with De Kock.