MUJAARIB (Paul Hanagan up, photo) is the highest rated runner (115) in Thursday’s Dubai Millenium Stakes over 2000m on turf at Meydan. The race carries a USD200,000 stake.
Sheikh Hamdan’s five-year-old entire was penalised seven points for his comeback win over Mushreq in the Gr2 Al Rashidiya over 1800m on 30 January, but should still pack the hardest punch in this Listed line-up.
Mike de Kock commented: “Mujaarib is very well suited to the conditions of this race. He hasn’t yet won over 2000m, but we do believe he sees it out and we’re confident he’ll dispute the outcome.”
Mujaarib became a bit one-paced in the latter parts of both his starts over 2000m in South Africa and finished unplaced, but they were contested in Gr1 company when he was a four-year-old . With more maturity and strength on his side, he could assert his authority over the distance this time.
Zahee (yellow silks), switches to turf.
Anaerobio (Pat Cosgrave) and Zahee (Christophe Soumillon), both well-performed at the 2014 Carnival so far, have been accepted for the District One Handicap over 1400m, which opens the evening’s programme. They are joined by Kavanagh (Richard Hughes) and a few other hard knockers in a race likely to produce a close finish.
Mike said: “We have a strong coupling here, all of them in very good form. Anaerobio has to give weight all round on handicapping terms this time and that’s never easy. Zahee switches to turf for the first time in Dubai, he’s well above average and should produce another good run. Kavanagh is best held to come from a few lengths off the pace, he has a short burst and we believe Richard Hughes will suit him well. If I have to make a choice between them, I’d go for Zahee, but the other two are by no means out of it.”
Jockey Johnny Geroudis, who flew home to attend Mike’s birthday party last weekend, was full of confidence that his regular mount Disa Leader will break his Dubai duck in the Meydan Sobha over 1600m on the all-weather track.
Eight-year-old Disa Leader has posted a second, two thirds and four places in various races since he came to the UAE in 2012. Time’s running out for the former Mauritian champion, but this could be his big night and Mike commented: “He’s fit and as well as we can have him. If he’s ever had a chance to win at Meydan, this is it.”
Geroudis was also confident he could win the District One Phase One Handicap over 2000m on Alexandra Palace who, like Mujaarib, is unproven over this distance but has a Listed win over 1800m to his credit and ran on powerfully to win over a mile on his return to the track three weeks ago. “Alexandra Palace is a big runner,” Mike confirmed.
Specific Gravity (Thierry Thulliez) and Red Duke (Wayne Smith) are Alexandra Palace’s stablemates in the race. “Specific Gravity has shown some improvement and has place prospects. Red Duke ran on nicely to win last week. We’re running out of options at the Carnival so we have to race him a few days later, but he’s well, he can earn a stake again,” said Mike.