There are no programming issues in Dubai racing it seems. As a perfect prep for world horseracing’s richest night on 31 March, Super Saturday provided all the pointers and indicators required for the connections as well as an enthusiastic punting public on a superb evening of horseracing entertainment.
And trainers Mike De Kock and Herman Brown carried the South African flag with pride on Super Saturday at Meydan. With the exception of a disappointing run from former Vodacom Durban July winner Bold Silvano, the two KwaZulu-Natal based horsemen carved the turkey with three superb winners.
Emirates Airline are the sponsor of Super Saturday, formerly held on a Thursday, and which is the informal dress rehearsal for the Dubai World Cup meeting on Saturday March 31. The glittering line-up of dignitaries present at Meydan included both His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and the Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum among a sparkling line-up of dignitaries present.
De Kock and his old travelling jockey Kevin Shea closed the meeting in memorable style with a seemingly unlikey Gr1 win in the Jebel Hatta run over 1800m.An American bred son of Kingmambo who formerly competed in the John Magnier silks, Master Of Hounds had only won one race previously and he jumped from the widest draw here.
These are doubtless the factors that would have contributed to his 14-1 starting price. Shea rode a cracker of pure confidence and took one of the only two options open to him – bouncing to an immediate lead from the break. De Kock will be scratching his head as he eyes the Duty Free and the World Cup as mouthwatering alternatives for the big night for a horse who has had his problems.
The Saftote Place Accumulator opened without incident when De Kock completed a double for his main patron Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum. Mickdaam provided the owner a fourth winner in the 1900m Listed Al Bastakiya. This was the prep race for the UAE Derby,and after Mickdaam had finished second in the 1600m UAE 2000 Guineas he relished this step up in trip under Christophe Soumillon.
De Kock said: “We always knew this trip would suit him better and he strikes as a horse who will improve with distance and time. Obviously the UAE Derby will be next.”
A pleased as punch Herman Brown was also in the winner’s enclosure with Royston Ffrench making virtually all on Mikhail Glinka in the Group 2 Dubai City Of Gold run over 2410m on the immaculate turf surface.
Ffrench said: “We planned to try and get out in front and it worked well. He stays further than this so stamina was never an issue and connections will have a couple of options for him on the big night.”
Brown was also thrilled with the former Neil Bruss trained Var gelding August Rush who stayed on well under Ryan Moore for third in the Gr3 Mahab Al Shimaal over 1200m on the all-weather. Bahrain’s Fawzi Nass is the owner and trainer of Krypton Factor who was the impressive winner of this Gr3 sprint under Kieren Fallon. He reversed form with Hitchens who beat him in the Al Shindagha Sprint over the same course and distance recently.
A delighted Nass said: “That was Kieren at his very best as we were worried by the draw but he took his time and they won very nicely. We always knew he was a decent sprinter and he is so tough. Hopefully we will be back on (Dubai) World Cup night with him.”
Frankie Dettori and Saeed Bin Suroor teamed up with African Story to win the Group 3 Burj Nahaar over 1600m on the all-weather and Dettori, having completed his trademark flying dismount, said: “I thought this was my best chance on the night and he is an improving horse.”
Unfortunately for Mike De Kock and Christophe Soumillon , the brilliant Musir had every chance from his pole position draw but may need a little more than a mile to be at his most competitive. He nevertheless stayed on for a third cheque.
The 1000m Meydan Sprint on the turf produced a great result for Ireland with the Mick Halford-trained Invincible Ash enjoying a powerful Jamie Spencer ride when denying Sole Power and the former Greg Ennion –trained and Hassen Adams-owned Nocturnal Affair, now also trained in the UK.
Ahmed Atjebi rode a cracker to win the Al Maktoum Challenge run over 2000m on the all-weather on the Al Zarooni-trained Irish bred Capponi for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The five-year-old has improved dramatically throughout the 2012 Dubai World Cup Carnival and now looks a likely contender for the big race in three weeks’ time.
Bold Silvano fell right away after jumping from a nice 2 draw and did his short-term prospects little good. Should we be making excuses for horses, one wonders? But apparently he did race with his tongue over the bit and we wouldn’t want to underestimate the Mike De Kock magic. Don’t write him off yet.