THERE are two Dubai Carnival race meetings and a big day at Abu Dhabi this weekend and Mike de Kock’s Blue Stables will be represented at all three.
Mike sends out a pair of runners in two respective handicaps and one in a third handicap on Thursday evening; a single handicapper at Meydan on Friday and a feature runner at the Abu Dhabi event.
Sheikh Hamdan’s Alareef posted his first UAE win in a 1600m handicap on sand recently. He’s back in a similar race (Race 2) with Paul Hanagan aboard once more and the opportunity of a follow-up success.
Alareef, more to do. (Andrew Watkins)
Mike said: “Alareef is fit, well and in form but he has been penalised seven pounds for his win and will have to step up a notch to go in again. He has a chance.”
Mujaarib (Hanagan) and Liquid Mercury (Christophe Soumillon) are two interesting runners in Race 5, a handicap on turf over 2435m.
Seven-year-old Mujaarib has won five races up to 1800m and while he tends to race like he needs 2000m and further, he’s failed a few times over ten furlongs and once over 2410m at Meydan.
Mike commented: “Mujaarib races that way, he runs on well over 1800m yet disappoints when he goes beyond that. When we tried him over 2410m in 2014 he was beaten about 10 lengths in a Gr2 race off a higher rating. He’s back in a handicap off a lower rating now and perhaps things can work out for him this time, he is certainly in a better frame of mind than he was two years ago.
Mujaarib (nearest camera), is a happy horse.
The flashy grey, Liquid Mercury, caught the eye with a storming run first-up in Dubai when making up ground hand over fist in the closing stages of a 1600m handicap won by the smart Irish-bred, Fanciful Angel.
Ideally, Mike said, he would have stepped Liquid Mercury up to 1800m or 2000m before a stayer’s race like this, but due to Carnival limits the former Joey Ramsden runner will face this test sooner than needed.
“Liquid Mercury’s rating is presently too low for the available races over more ideal distances. Joey believes that 2000m is his best trip. He has won a Gr3 over a mile-and-a-half so he’ll see it out, the only drawback is whether this race, over this distance, will come too soon after his Dubai debut.
“That said, we like what we see from Liquid Mercury. He’s been working really well and is an impressive individual.”
Six-year-old Golden Soul, the runner-up to Orb in the 2013 Gr1 Kentucky Derby, makes his first appearance for the yard in Race 7, a handicap over 1800m on turf. Aside from his cracking Derby run in dirt, he’s won twice on turf up to 1800m in Listed company and Mike said: “We’ve had Golden Soul in our barn for several weeks, an older horse showing some decent work. We’re not sure what to expect of him, he is well and we’re hoping for a good run.”
Golden Soul (Wayne Smith) will be joined by Whistle Stop (Hanagan), much-improved in second to Sanshaawes on 21 January. He looks distance suited and Mike said: “He’s very well and we’re happy with him. He should be thereabouts at the finish.”
Baroot (Smith) followed an impressive Maiden win over 1900m on dirt with a respectable fifth over 2000m and Mike gives him a chance in Race 7 over a mile on dirt, to be contested at Meydan on Saturday. “He’s facing several low-rated rivals in a big field and he’s in good nick, he will race over shorter but must have a shout.”
Six-year-old Zahee is distance suited in the Listed HH President’s Cup over 1400m on turf on Sunday, but his form this season has been well below expectations. “Zahee’s rating and previous form is good enough to make him a factor here, but he hasn’t been too genuine this season and we don’t know what to expect from him.”