De Kock On Igugu

Shea Shea - Meydan Sprint (L) 13-03-09

Shea Shea storms home to win the Listed Meydan Sprint last Saturday

Mike De Kock remains bullish about the 18th running of the Dubai World Cup on Saturday 30 March that will feature nine group races and prize money of US$27.25 million. The champion trainer said that the end of March could well be a different story to Super Saturday.

The tough as teak De Kock was far from disillusioned after the defeat of his star mare Igugu in Saturday evening’s Gr1 Jebel Hatta. The 2012 J&B Met winner was partnered by her regular pilot Anthony Delpech who flew out of Durban last Wednesday, and returned home on Sunday. Igugu finished sixth behind winner Sajjhaa from Godolphin.

William Buick was in the saddle on Sajjhaa who opened her account at the highest level in the concluding Gr1 Jebel Hatta. This race was run over the same 1800m course and distance as the Dubai Duty Free.

Sajjhaa, now a 6yo mare, was actually winning for the third time at the 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival after claiming the Cape Verdi and the Balanchine Stakes and her trainer Saeed bin Suroor said: “She has really thrived in the Dubai weather and has pleasantly surprised us with how much she has improved. William had to be patient waiting for a gap and he gave her a great ride.”

A slightly disappointed De Kock said: “As far as I am concerned, Igugu is still very much on track for Dubai World Cup night and the Dubai Duty Free which has always been her main target – not the Dubai World Cup.

“Nothing much has gone to plan and we all know she is much better than she has produced in her two runs here. Her preparation has, basically, been the opposite of smooth. In simple terms, she really has not acclimatised as well as her stablemates and has endured no end of problems. “My advice, basically, is do not lose faith in her,” he warned.

Interestingly, De Kock had said the same after Shea Shea was beaten on his local debut; he certainly justified his trainer’s faith when breaking the 1,000m turf track record in the Listed Meydan Sprint on Saturday evening.

De Kock said: “He won twice in Gr1 company at home when trained by Geoff Woodruff and it was great that he and part-owner Brian Joffe were here. Shea Shea has now advertised his big night claims in spectacular fashion.”

Super Saturday certainly lived up to its billing, especially for Godolphin and trainer Saeed bin Suroor who combined to win four of the seven Thoroughbred races, including both the Gr1 features. These were landmark victories for the Godolphin team with Hunter’s Light providing Godolphin trainers with their 200th Gr1/Gr1 winner in the Gr1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3, over the same 2000m all-weather course and distance as the Dubai World Cup.

The world’s richest horse race, the $10million Dubai World Cup, is sponsored by Emirates Airline as was the whole of Super Saturday and Bin Suroor will be hoping that Hunter’s Light can emulate three of his previous winners of this race, Dubai Millennium, Street Cry and Electrocutionist who all won both contests.

Silvestre De Sousa rode the winner and said: “He just keeps improving and after our win in Round 2 of the Al Maktoum Challenge he was even more impressive here with the slight step up in trip suiting him. This is my first Gr1 winner in Dubai and the same horse supplied me with my first European Gr1 so he is clearly a real favourite of mine. Hopefully he has a big chance in the Dubai World Cup itself.”

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