South African champion trainer Mike De Kock’s assault on the riches and glory of the 2013 Dubai Racing Carnival has already begun in earnest. A high quality draft of formerly SA-based horses is about to depart Mauritius after 90 days in quarantine,en route to De Kock’s UK base and ultimately on to Dubai.
The Dubai World Cup itself is the single richest day in thoroughbred horse racing and is run on the final day of the Dubai International Carnival with prize money on offer for the feature exceeding $10m dollars. It is the world’s richest race and is one of the few sought-after trophies that has eluded De Kock so far. He came within a heartbeat of victory when the ill-fated former Port Elizabeth campaigner Lizard’s Desire got within a nostril of beating perennial bridesmaid Gloria De Campeao in 2010, when the race was run at the magnificent Meydan Racecourse for the first time.
The Dubai World Cup is run over 2000m on a Tapeta All-Weather track. The race is open to both colts and fillies aged over 3 years old and will be run on Saturday 30 March 2013.
Monterosso, trained by Dubai-based Mahmoud Al Zarooni, won the race this year when ridden by a jubilant 20 year old Corsican-born Mickael Barzalona. The French-based jockey stood high in the saddle with his arm even higher as Monterosso hit the line, well clear of stablemate Capponi. This gave Godolphin the top two finishers in the race and their sixth victory in its 17 year history.
The race is remembered for Barzalona’s exhuberant victory celebration as well as the inordinate fuss made of the admittedly glamorous leading US woman jockey Chantal Sutherland, who rode Game On Dude. The horse ended up running twelfth.
The Dubai Racing Carnival gets underway towards the end of January and continues for an average 11 weeks with a different meeting each week. The Carnival reaches a climax on 30 March with the running of the Dubai World Cup
The racecourse has two racetracks, one of turf and the other of an all-weather track constituted from a material known as Tapeta. Meydan Racecourse is able to accommodate over 60,000 spectators in a 1 mile long grandstand. The Dubai World Cup day offers over US$26.25 million in prize money.
De Kock’s valuable cargo is being shipped by South African market leaders, Global Bloodstock Logistics, and is headed by the brilliant 2010/11 SA Horse Of The Year Igugu, who has won her last seven races in a row. Remarkably these were all Group races and the 2012 J&B Met winner is bound to make a huge impact in Dubai.
The former Gavin Van Zyl-trained 2011 Gr1 Champions Cup and Gr1 Daily News winner The Apache is another outstanding athlete who is likely to make his presence felt against the world’s best. It was announced in March that Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum had purchased a 50% share of the son of Mogok, and he will race him in partnership with the colt’s original owner, Winston Chow. The Apache was originally headed for Hong Kong, but the onerous AHS protocols as well as restrictions on imports into that country, put an end to those plans.
The unbeaten Equus champion two year old colt Soft Falling Rain is one of the exciting younger prospects in the De Kock squad. The son of National Assembly is a winner of all four of his starts, including a dazzling 4,50 length win in the Gr1 SA Nursery on Champions Day. There he had subsequent leading lights, in Gr1 Premier’s Champion Stakes winner The Hangman and Gr1 Golden Horseshoe winner War Horse, trailing in his wake.
It is not often that we see a champion sprinter in the De Kock yard and the lightning fast multiple Gr1 winning former Geoff Woodruff-trained, Shea Shea adds an interesting dimension to the potent armoury.
Shea Shea is the winner of the 2011 Gr1 Golden Horse Casino Sprint and the Gr1 Computaform Sprint – the latter achieved against subsequent SA Sprinter of the year, What A Winter.
Jet Legend is a lightly raced 5yo who has won five of his ten starts, including the Gr3 Kings Cup over a mile at his last outing
The Australian bred son of Flying Spur, Mushreq, is a two-time winner of his ten local starts and looks a fellow with plenty of upward potential. He went down narrowly to the ill-fated Fighting Warrior in the Gr1 Golden Horseshoe on July Day last year but ran below expectations in the Gr1 Investec Cape Derby when 6,90 lengths off the impressive Jackson. He then ran a diabolical race on very soft going when finishing stone last in the R2 million Gr1 SA Classic two months later.
The enigmatic 5yo son of Tiger Ridge Kavanagh is a multiple Group race winner who recorded his last victory on SA soil with a resounding win in the Gr 2 Hawai Stakes over 1400m at Turffontein at the end of February this year.
Royal Ridge is another son of Tiger Ridge who booked his Dubai passage courtesy of a good win in the Egoli Mile. He has proven somewhat inconsistent, but has plenty of scope for good improvement.
The Australian-bred daughter of Pivotal, Amanee, is a winner of the Gr1 Thekwini Stakes as a juvenile and won the Gr2 KRA Fillies Guineas last season when downing some of the best fillies of her year.
The former Eric Sands-trained Final Button has won three of his 12 starts and besides a 2,55 length third to Horse Of The Year Variety Club in the Gr3 Tekkie Town Winter Guineas, still has plenty to prove. He has always been highly-rated by jockeys who have ridden him and he could prove to be one of the undiscovered gems.
Two now 3yo Argentinian-bred debut winners by Giant’s Causeway make up the balance of the South African draft. The good looking Emotif won her only start when storming home by 4,25 lengths in a Juvenile Plate over 1400m at Greyville. El Estruenoso also shed his maiden first time out at the beginning of May over 1400m at Scottsville.
The last mentioned two could really be anything. And with the De Kock track record, are bound to be something!