MIKE de Kock sends out five runners in the Ford Taurus Trophy (USD175,000) over 1800m on turf to be staged at Meydan on Thursday evening.
He’ll be hoping to have a say in the outcome of the race with the individually talented Gale Force Ten (Anton Marcus), Mickdaam (Andrea Atzeni),Vercingetorix (Christophe Soumillon) El Estruendoso (Pat Cosgrave) and Daddy Long Legs (Thierry Thulliez), but for various reasons there is no ‘good thing’ among them.
Starting with the stable’s October 2013 acquisition Gale Force Ten (headline photo), who will race for Mary and Jessica Slack and Michael Javett in partnership with Coolmore’s John Magnier, Mike said: “This horse is extremely well and we’ll be taking his headgear off. He doesn’t show all that much in sprint work, he needs a bit further, but we’ve seen a change in him, in the last two weeks and I rate him a big runner.”
“Mickdaam hasn’t raced since his fifth in the Derby last June so he’s behind on fitness and while we know he is capable he will be well in need of this outing.
“Vercingetorix has not enjoyed the preparation we would have liked. To start with he travelled to the UAE worst of all and we couldn’t start his work programme when we wanted to. We’ve been pressed for time, it’s the silly season for trainers in Dubai and we’ve had to push Vercingetorix to get him in shape for this race. Ideally we would have liked two more weeks of work for him and he will need his run, but I have to add that he’s shown major improvement in the last two weeks. He’s turning the corner and should run well.
Vercingetorix, starting to improve.
“El Estruendoso is fit and well, but his chance has been ruined by the handicapper, who bumped him up to a 106 rating. This is typical of the handicappers, who control the outcome of races around the world. It is something we can’t escape. El Estruendoso is worse off at the weights with Gabrial, who beat him two weeks ago!
“I’m at a loss for words about Daddy Long Legs, who continues to disappoint. This will be the last roll of the dice for him.”
Mars (Soumillon up), another highly-rated four-year-old formerly raced by Coolmore and purchased last year by Mary Slack, Bernard Kantor and Larry Nestadt, takes on Variety Club in the Firebreak Stakes over 1600m (see Joey Ramsden’s Variety Club comments). Mike commented: “Mars is doing very well, he’s a horse to be followed, but we don’t expect him to beat Variety Club. Mars is, after all, only a one-time winner and although he’s done well at Group 1 level , he comes off a rest and we’d be delighted if he can earn place money.”
The stable does expect to start the meeting on a successful note when Sanshaawes (Soumillon) goes to post in the Ford Raptor Trophy over 2000m on the all-weather. “It’s his first time on the surface which is a concern, but Sanshaawes has improved and he’s in good condition, he should go close here. Specific Gravity (Cosgrave) has won over this distance and he has an outside chance, can place.”
Sanshaawes, will go close if he handles the all-weather track at Meydan.
Anton Marcus has another mount for the yard in the UAE 2000 Guineas (Gr3), in which he will partner Journeyman. Soumillon rides Wednaan, Jim Crowley will be aboard Jalotta and Paul Hanagan takes Full Combat.
Mike noted: “Journeyman showed in last week’s Guineas Trial that he wants further but he’s in here with a shout. Wednaan won his debut for us in the UK last September. He’s a quality horse, very smart, but he’s only had the one run and he will come on with this race.
“Wednaan will be affected by greenness, he needs more experience. We’re expecting a lot from him, but we can’t predict with certainty how he will run first time out in Dubai.
“Jalotta was purchased and sent to us by Jim Hay. He’s a horse that shows good work, but he had 11 runs as a two-year-old, he is exposed. We’d like to see how he goes, if he can take a step up and train on.”
“Full Combat ran well first up here a month ago and he’s improved nicely since. He wants further, but he’s a runner, he’ll go well.”
Six-year-old stayer Vasily (Andrea Atzeni) is set for a good run in the Ford Edge Sport Trophy over 2435m. “He’s fit and he’s made progress since his debut here recently. He’s an honest, hard-knocking horse and we expect him to make his presence felt,” Mike said.