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De Kock Into Overdrive

Dubai World Cup Carnival


Long Road. South Africa’s 2011 Horse Of The Year Igugu will be a star attraction in Dubai

Over US$ 37 million in prize money will be on offer at the 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival, which kicks off on Thursday January 10.

Super Saturday, the dress rehearsal for the Dubai World Cup is on March 9 and the world’s richest race day, the US$27,25m Dubai World Cup takes place on March 30.

South African Champion Trainer Mike De Kock will once again take his place amongst the greatest names in racing over the course of the 11 fixture schedule.

He first went to Dubai in 2003 with just five horses and promptly won two races at Dubai World Cup, putting South African horseracing into the global limelight overnight.

De Kock has been leading international conditioner at the Carnival seven times. He has won nine races on the big night, a total bettered only by Dubai-based Saeed Bin Suroor.

Igugu, Horse Of The Year in South African in 2011 when her victories included the Vodacom Durban July, is undoubtedly the Queen of De Kock’s 2013 Dubai raiding party.

Igugu’s long and arduous road to Dubai began back in June with a 20-day stint in the Cape quarantine station followed by a five-hour flight to Mauritius, where she spent 90 days along with the other 13 members of De Kock’s raiding party.

That was followed by a month in England and the weary travellers finally arrived in the desert last month for a final short stint in the Dubai quarantine station before getting down to work for the Carnival.

Igugu, sidelined since winning the J&B Met back in January, can target any of the 1800m Duty Free, the 2400m Sheema Classic (both on turf) and the Dubai World Cup on the synthetic track at the world’s richest race meeting at the end of March.

Although the Duty Free is probably the race she will run in. “My first choice is to keep her on turf, but we will see how she trains on the synthetic track before finalising our options,” De Kock said.

The other South Africans who made the trip with Igugu include champion sprinter Shea Shea, dual Grade 1 winner The Apache and Soft Falling Rain, the champion two-year-male in South Africa last season. Soft Falling Rain, who is unbeaten with four from four to date, is being aimed at the UAE Guineas over 1600m. “I’m confident he will go on the synthetic and my concern is whether he will get 1600m. He’s out of a Giant’s Causeway mare, which gives hope he will stay. But we can always race him over shorter or on the grass if need be.”

The Apache’s target at this point is the Dubai Duty Free, but he’s likely to start out in the first round of the Al Maktoum Challenge on the synthetic (all-weather) track.

“I’m not sure he will go on the all-weather track, but we’ll see. Shea Shea will be kept to sprints and there are some decent races for speed horses on the programme. Emotif was my Triple Crown filly, but those plans are down the drain after she suffered heat stress in quarantine here.” De Kock is hoping to win a couple of nice races with Mickdaam, who he sent out to finish fourth in the UAE Derby last year. Mickdaam then spent the summer in England, where he won the Chester Vase and ran fifth in the Investec Epsom Derby. “He‘s back from a good rest and is doing very well. I’m eyeing the Sheema Classic for him.”

De Kock has two new acquisitions from Coolmore in Ireland in Await The Dawn, who has a third in the Juddmonte International to his credit, and Grade 2 winner David Livingston. “Await The Dawn is a lovely horse but he’s had a hard time and it will take a long time to get him right. David Livingston was bought for stud, but it was decided to give him a last season of racing and we’ll just have to wait and see how he goes,” De Kock said.

“The success of the Dubai World Cup Carnival and the Dubai World Cup has brought international prominence to racing in Dubai and the UAE,” said Mr. Malhi Al Basti, Meydan Group Board Member and Chairman of the Racing Committee.

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