The curtain comes down on the UAE season today with Meydan hosting the final meeting – and South Africa’s Mike de Kock is hoping to improve on what has been a disappointing season by his standards.
The highlight of the card is a pair of rated conditions races and, in one of them, Race 5, De Kock is a major factor.
His 2019 UAE season was torpedoed by horse travel problems, but the Randjesfontein master is making a late bid for glory by going four-handed in the inaugural Nad Al Sheba Classic over 2000m on turf.
Highly regarded Yulong Prince (formerly Surcharge), winner of the Grade 1 Daily News at Greyville last June, never fired on his local debut in the Dubai Turf on World Cup Night, trailing in 10th behind Japanese superstar Almond Eye.
He badly needed the run, will strip fitter and should find this company less taxing. He was quoted at 11-2 in the early betting market.
Stablemates Yakeen and Royal Crusade made little impact on their UAE debuts, finishing well down the field behind Ajwad here last week. It’s hard to see them getting involved in a stronger race.
De Kock’s final runner, Majestic Mambo, two places ahead of Yulong Prince in the Dubai Turf, is perhaps the pick of the quartet and shared early favouritism at 9-2.
The former Paul Peter charge showed promise behind the progressive Dream Castle on his local debut, then recovered from a tardy start to finish 11 lengths behind Almond Eye.
Majestic Mambo will be ridden by Adrie de Vries, Yulong Prince by Bernard Fayd’Herbe, Royal Crusade by Fernando Jara and Yakeen by 3kg-claiming apprentice Adam McLean.
De Kock has one other runner at the meeting, Bold Rex in Race 7. The five-year-old has been disappointing in five runs this year and languishes at long odds.