WINNING races in Dubai is not about pushing buttons and although it felt quite strange not to see any of Mike de Kock’s runners in the winner’s enclosure at Meydan on Thursday, 20 February, the stable’s record at the 2014 International Racing Carnival wasn’t blemished on a night of competitive racing.
This is the period during every Dubai Carnival when more international stables send out some of their top runners, the winners of races at prior meetings find themselves handicapped out of contention and things get generally more competitive.
Zahee took third in the District One Handicap over 1400m on turf, but may have done better. He was beaten 1.25-lengths by Eastern Rules, who reversed the form of their recent all-weather encounter by 2.25-lengths with only a 1kg swing in his favour.
Zahee (right), saw Eastern rules (out of picture) getting past him this time. The horse on the left is Sommerabend (2nd), with Anaerobio in the middle. (Andrew Watkins).
Mike commented: “Zahee was too handy. We wanted him to race from a few lengths off the pace and he raced up front. Last time he ran on from midfield, passing Eastern Rules, this time it was the other way round. He remains a runner to be watched going into the last six weeks of this Dubai term.”
Mujaarib was the other stable runner in the money, running on strongly from far back to finish third to Godolphin’s Tasaday in the Dubai Millenium Stakes over 2000m, only 1.25-lengths adrift.
Mujaarib was outpaced early and being scrubbed along a long way before the bend, turning a few lengths behind the second-last horse. He found his rhythm and made up ground hand over fist late, proving that he stays the journey.
Mike said: “We just have to accept that Mujaarib runs the way he does, he was lost early and got into gear late. He ran to his rating in the end, finishing fast and beaten by a smart filly. Paul Hanagan feels Mujaarib needs even more ground, but I still believe he is a better horse over shorter when the pace is on. He’s performed nicely so far, we can look forward to more.”
Of his other runners on the night, Mike said: “Anaerobio was on the heels of Eastern Rules and Zahee, a good run from him at the top of the handicap. Kavanagh was disappointing. He’s flattered only to deceive through most of his career and we’ll have to assess now where we stand with him.
“Alexandra Palace didn’t run as well as last time, this was perhaps a flat run, but I’d take into account that he was penalised six points for his win and that was too heavy, it contributed to his failure to get into the mix when it mattered. In the same race, the Charlie Appleby runner Cat O’Mountain, who has progressed solidly this Carnival, came into it with a 13-point penalty for his last win. The handicapper simply killed him, nipped his chance in the bud.
“Disa Leader couldn’t quite get into the right position to make an impact, as I said before he’s a horse that needs luck in running. Things got tight around him at the business end and he was caught behind a few others who were in full cry while he was battling for the running room he needed to take them on.”
Mike concluded: “Racing will get even tougher here now, but we still have horses like Shea Shea and Soft Falling Rain to come, and others like Mars with good improvement in them. We’re looking ahead to more good results.”