VIA Africa looked a picture and was playful at Blue Stables in Dubai on Thursday when Mike de Kock paraded her to a group of visitors to the yard.
Andre Hauptfleisch and Albert Boshoff’s mare is in the joint-largest field of the day that will see 16 speedsters frantically hurtling down the straight 1000m turf track in the ultra competitive $1million Al Quoz Sprint, a Gr1 sprint empowered by IPIC.
The race is considered wide open would be an understatement and luck-in-running is going to be of paramount importance for those held up off the early speed, which is sure to be scorching.
Mike de Kock felt that she’s benefited enormously from her Dubai debut in which she was beaten under two lengths after showing pace and commitment in the finish and he commented: “Via Africa put up an excellent piece of work last Saturday and we haven’t done much with her since. She looks in really good form and we’re expecting her to feature in the shake-up, she wasn’t disgraced in the least when needing her run a few weeks ago, she could have a say here.”
Via Africa was doing a leg tap for her grooms on Thursday and fooling around with them. “When she does that she’s in the mood for running,” said part-owner Andre Hauptfleisch.
Among the others, Joy And Fun in 2010 and Amber Sky (AUS) last year have won this for Hong Kong and the latter is back to defend his crown, with Ryan Moore taking over in the saddle from Joao Moreira.
“Everything has gone well and we are happy with him,” said trainer Ricky Yiu. “We know he likes it here and expect a big run.”
Moreira rides Bundle Of Joy (AUS) for David Hall, who said: “We kept him in the quarantine area for a few days when he arrived which was always the plan. He went nicely on the track on Thursday and we are happy with him.”
Peniaphobia (IRE) completes a really strong Hong Kong team in the race with Doug Whyte riding for Tony Cruz.
“He worked very well on the turf the other day and we expect him to be very competitive on Saturday,” said the legendary trainer.
One horse who enjoyed no luck in the Super Saturday contest was Sole Power (GB) who will be contesting Saturday’s race for the fifth consecutive year. Second in 2012, this multiple Group 1 winner can certainly not be ruled out, assuming the gaps appear for him and Richard Hughes in the closing stages.
“We have been very pleased with his preparation,” said his trainer Eddie Lynam. “We all know he is more than capable of a big run but his style of running does often mean we need a bit of luck.”