MIKE de Kock and his team are well represented at the first 2017 Dubai International Racing Carnival meeting at Meydan on Thursday evening. Nine runners will make their way from Blue Stables at the training complex to the adjacent racecourse, three of them first-time out for the yard.
Courtesy of Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum come Saltarin Dubai (Race 3) and Lindo Amor (Race 5), a pair of four-year-old colts from Argentina with good South American form acquired for sand racing.
Mike commented: “They are two good-looking horses, both working well and both will come on with their runs. We need to see if they will reproduce their form on the Dubai sand, and whether the handicapper is right about their ratings. I am not too sure.”
Saltarin Dubai (ARG), gives the evergreen Christophe Soumillon his first ride back for the team in 2017 in a Handicap over 1900m on dirt. He is rated 113, having won a Gr1 over 2000m in his home country last June. “There are times when the Argentine form works out pretty well, let’s hope it does so here,” said Mike, who trained Asiatic Boy (ARG), to win the UAE Triple Crown in 2007.
On what they’ve shown in work so far, Lino Amor (ARG), is a bit better than Saltarin Dubai. He lines up with Soumillon aboard in the Gr2 Al Maktoum Challenge (Leg 1) over 1600m on dirt and Mike commented: “He’s a nice type of horse, Group 1 placed in Argentina and if he takes to the Dubai sand he will be a big runner.”
Former South African galloper Light The Lights is the third stable newcomer and also owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum – he takes on a strong field in Race 6, the Listed Singspiel Stakes over 1800m on turf. Light The Lights has been hammered with a 110 rating, mainly due to his fourth place in South Africa’s J&B Met of 2016, but he may well be up to the task here and Mike said: “We’re looking forward to see Light The Lights in action. His work has been impressive and he looks the part.”
The well-performed Ertijaal (AUS) and old-timer Sanshaawes will go to post in the same race. UK champ Jim Crowley, the new stable jockey to Sheikh Hamdan, gets the ride on Ertijaal and Mike commented: “He’s well exposed, we know how good he is. He had fetlock surgery last year and he has recovered, his work is good but he will need the run.”
Seven-year-old Sanshaawes (Bernard Fayd’Herbe), surprised one and all with a decent campaign last year and Mike noted: “He keeps giving of his best, he will be thereabouts again. He has been here long enough. He knows what to do.”
Mike said that the same comment holds for nine-year-old stalwart Anaerobio (Fayd’Herbe), who won and placed twice from four Carnival starts last season and is not done for yet. Mohammed Khaleel’s gelding is one of four De Kock runners in the handicap over 1400m on turf that closes the night’s racing.
Along with Anaerobio is Mastermind (Pat Cosgrave), said to be “below his form of the last two seasons and needing the outing” ; Banaadeer (Dane O’Neill), who is “very well and in with a chance” and Whistle Stop (Antonio Fresu), who is being prepared for a 2000m race and will be warming up in this seven-furlong contest.”