OUR headline photo today shows the finish of last year’s Gr2 Zabeel Mile on turf at Meydan in which Johan Strauss (GB) (yellow silks), finished fourth to Safety Check, beaten two lengths.
Ten days later Johan Strauss claimed third in the Gr1 Jebel Hatta, a race won by Hunter’s Light, and the Mike de Kock runner’s final outing of the 2015 season.
The five-year-old entire, whose ability is well illustrated by the fact that he has only a Maiden win under his belt yet is Gr1 and Gr2 placed from 10 career runs, returns to the track in the 2016 renewal of the Zabeel Mile this Thursday. Christophe Soumillon has the ride.
Mike assessed: “Johan Strauss is about 85-90% fit and we’re expecting a good run in this competitive field. He’s had a few problems, but he’s been very sound this term and he’s a really talented horse, he can earn a cheque despite his lengthy layoff.”
That will be music to the ears of Johann Strauss’s supporters and Mike added: “If Johan Strauss were to fight this out it will be a bonus, we’d like to see him running strongly and coming out of the race well, he’s a horse with a future.”
Stable companion Zahee (Wayne Smith), second in a Listed Abu Dhabi feature last week, is rated with an eachway chance in this race and Mike said: “He is doing well, but will have to lift his game again to feature. We need to see consistency from him.”
Winklemann (Sam Hitchcott) and Al Mashooqa (Smith) go to post in Race 7, a Handicap over 1200m on turf. “Winklemann will have a change of gear and we’re hoping for better, Al Mashooqa is coming back down the straight after having failed around the bend. She’s been frustrating, we’ve expected more. We’ll see how she fares here.”
Anaerobio (Friday) and Tannaaf (Saturday), will contest respective races on turf in Qatar at the weekend. Wayne Smith takes both mounts.
Anaerobio will be lining up in Friday’s Qatar Gr2 Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Cup over 1600m at Doha and Mike gave him a good chance, saying: “He’s in good form and will make his presence felt.”
Tannaaf dead heated for victory in the Qatar Gr1 Derby over 2000m when last seen in action here in December. Unplaced in two Meydan runs since, he returns for a rematch with Rogue Runner on Saturday and will be suited to the mile-and-a-half in the HH The Emirs Trophy (Qatar Gr1).
“The Qatar Derby form hasn’t stood up in Dubai so we’re expecting a better run from Tannaaf back at Doha, but he’s in a stronger field than last time, he will have more to do,” Mike said.’’