MIKE de Kock, the most successful international trainer on Dubai World Cup night, with a remarkable nine winners to his name, is set to saddle eight runners on Saturday, headed by Sanshaawes in the world’s richest horse race, the $10million Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates.
He has a double hand in the Group 1 $5m Dubai Duty Free, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free. He won the Super Saturday trial, the Group 1 Jebel Hatta over the same 1800m turf trip, with Vercingetorix, who surged past re-opposing stable companion, Anaerobio, about 200m from home.
De Kock said: “I think Anaerobio produced a career best on Super Saturday and he received an invitation, deservedly, to run here. As for Vercingetorix, we basically do not know how good he is; he is lazy at home and just does enough on the racecourse. He remains unbeaten and always looks like he will win easily, but then almost stops and waits for a challenge. Saturday will be his biggest test against the likes of The Fugue and he will need to produce a career best.”
Not surprisingly, the South African nominated 2013 Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint (1000m turf) winner Shea Shea as his best hope on the card, bidding to repeat his track-record-breaking effort of 12 months ago.
As was the case last year, De Kock’s crack sprinter takes his place in the starting line-up having won Super Saturday’s Meydan Sprint under regular jockey, Christophe Soumillon and the trainer said: “He is probably our best chance on the card and arrives here at least as fit and well as last year. There are some real speedsters in the mix which, hopefully, will suit him.”
Last year’s Godolphin Mile winner, Soft Falling Rain, is another De Kock returnee and he had a pipe-opener in the 1200m Mahab Al Shimaal on Super Saturday. (Headline photo shows Soft Falling Rain (Paul Hanagan, striped cap, winning the 2013 Godolphin Mile).
“He has really improved a lot from that return to action,” said De Kock. “Ideally I would have probably liked one more run but we plan to keep him busy in Europe this summer so we have to strike a balance.”
Of his other runners, Dubai Sheema Classic contender Mars, received a positive bulletin.
“He has come on a lot from his latest run when the blinkers perhaps did no suit. We thought he ran well though and, hopefully, he will at least be competitive,” said the trainer.
Already a dual Dubai World Cup Carnival winner this year, De Kock’s big-race hope Sanshaawes arguably produced a career best performance when second in the Group 1 concluding round of the Al Maktoum Challenge, over the same 2000m all-weather course and distance as the Dubai World Cup.
If the five-year-old gelding is successful, he will become the globe-trotting trainer’s first win in the Dubai World Cup.
“That was a great effort from a bad draw on Super Saturday,” said De Kock. “We knew when he arrived in Dubai he had a win or two in him but he has excelled our expectations.
“He is in great form at home but, realistically, we would be delighted with a placed effort. Hopefully, we get a good draw this time, because we certainly didn’t last time on Super Saturday.”