UMGIYO, a flawless winner of his Dubai debut, is Mike de Kock’s feature-race contender at Meydan’s Carnival meeting this Thursday, 19 February.
Umgiyo (Christophe Soumillon) has tightened up and improved in the few weeks since winning a turf handicap over 1800m on 22 January and he’s expected to have a say in the finish of the topliner, the Listed Dubai Millennium Stakes over 2000m on turf.
“This is a good test for Umgiyo and we’ll see how good he is,” Mike said on Tuesday afternoon. “He goes over this trip for the first time and into a really competitive field, but the manner of his win here in January was promising and his pedigree suggests he’ll see it out. I don’t think he’ll be found lacking when it matters.”
Umgiyo (blue, pink silks), takes on stronger. (Andrew Watkins).
Three-year-old Banaadeer was 4.75-lengths adrift of the winner on his own Dubai debut over 1000m on turf at the end of last month. He was fancied to make the frame that day and he’s back in a similar race with a chance to make amends, Soumillon up first time. Mike commented: “Banaadeer needed the run more than anticipated, but he’s come on a good few lengths since. I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t run into the money this time.”
Royal Ridge (Dane O’Neill), is in a full field of 16 runners set to contest the Meydan Sobha over 1600m on dirt. He faded right out of contention on this surface in a Gr2 race here early in January but Mike wants to give it one more try in somewhat lesser company. He said: “On his pedigree Royal Ridge should be showing more interest on dirt, so we’re giving him another chance. That run to Surfer could’ve been all wrong.”
The stable fields a three-pronged challenge in the District One Handicap over 1400m on turf with Anaerobio (Soumillon), Fountain Of Youth (Luke Morris) and Whistle Stop (O’Neill) going to post.
Anaerobio has long been a regular stake-earning soldier in Dubai and Mike said: “What you see is what you get. He should run his usual honest race and has a chance.”
Fountain Of Youth moved up for a challenge in a 1200m sprint recently, improving, and he’s expected to enjoy the course and distance. “He’s starting to come to hand and should go well over the trip,” Mike said.
Whistle Stop, above himself, took off and ran away with his jock before the start of what was to be his first race in Dubai and had to be withdrawn. He’s a talented horse who enjoys plenty of support, especially back home in South Africa and Mike commented: “Whistle Stop was set for a good run when he bolted away and that was unfortunate. He’s doing very well, he’s naturally fitter for this race than he was last time so we’ll be hoping he can show his worth.”