MIKE de Kock has few peers when it comes to international competition and his 12 previous winners on Dubai World Cup night stands second only to Godolphin stalwart Saeed bin Suroor.
After six more at the 2016 Dubai World Cup Carnival, he enters this year’s showpiece event with no obvious standouts, as opposed to 12 months ago when Mubtaahij (IRE) looked to hold serious UAE Derby claims.
That proved to be the case as he scored easily before embarking on an ambitious American adventure and was far from disgraced behind American Pharoah in both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.
Forries Waltz, fresh and in great nick.
“It was a brilliant experience and Mubtaahij performed well,” reflected De Kock in an interview with Dubai Racing Club on Monday.
“He ran in three UAE Triple Crown races and then two in America. That must be unique to contest five Triple Crown races.”
It is the same horse who will bid to finally land the Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates itself for a trainer who has saddled both Asiatic Boy and Victory Moon to finish second in the world’s richest race.
Interestingly, both horses were four-year-olds and winner of the previous year’s UAE Derby so De Kock is following a tried and almost tested route.
It would be fair to say Mubtaahij has not fired in two starts this year but De Kock is less concerned than many of the horse’s fan club.
He explained: “First time, in the Firebreak Stakes, we kept telling everybody he was 80 per cent fit and tackling a 1600m trip too sharp for him.
“Super Saturday was, on the face of it, disappointing but the more you look at the race, all the dirt races on that day even, there seemed a definite bias towards those on the pace.
“I can say he is spot on for Saturday and we expect him to run a big race.”
The Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World has twice been won by De Kock with the amazing Ipi Tombe in 2003 and Right Approach, who dead-heated in 2004.
He saddles two in this year’s race, Ertijaal (AUS) and Forries Waltz (SAF), but clearly fears Godolphin’s Tryster (IRE).
“My two are in good form and should run well but, in all honesty, I think we are running for second prize money as Tryster looks the real deal,” he said.
“He has quickened off a slow pace and from behind a decent gallop. It is hard to see a chink in his armour.
“Forries Waltz is fresh and in great nick, he will go to Hong Kong after Saturday. Ertijaal is solid and honest performer who will give his best.”
Best from a Mike de Kock runner is, as often as not, good enough and his followers can take heart from the fact that trainer’s two most recent runners, Alareef and Baroot, were both victorious at Meydan earlier in the month.