Trainer Mike de Kock’s firepower for the Dubai World Cup extravaganza at Meydan this Saturday is not as potent as it promised to be, but the stable’s global warrior Mubtaahij will go into battle as planned as second favourite for the topliner, the $10,000,000 Dubai World Cup.
By his own high standards, the 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival hasn’t been as fruitful as De Kock had hoped. But he’s realistic with his overview of the way things have panned out for his Dubai team at his Blue Roof Stables on the edge of Meydan Racecourse.
“This has been a quiet Carnival, and on reflection I didn’t really have the right horses,” he says.
“Mubtaahij arrived in December and then we had to get him right and ended up running him in a handicap in which he finished second over the World Cup course and distance.
“He was our flag bearer along with Noah From Goa, who unfortunately injured himself.”
The loss of Noah From Goa was a bitter blow and then De Kock and his staff were faced with ongoing issues with promising Fawree, who had problems at the gate.
“I admit we’ve had better carnivals and Mubtaahij was supposed to have two races ahead of the World Cup, but that wasn’t to happen.
“That said, I’m very happy with where he’s at, but it is obviously a strong field with one stand-out horse in Arrogate and three or four other contenders like Gun Runner and Hopportunity.”
Mubtaahij was a distant second to California Chrome in the 2016 World Cup and according to his trainer faces a more difficult task on Saturday.
“Last year Mubtaahij was probably the third or fourth best in the World Cup field and enjoyed a very good run, as he did in all three legs of the Triple Crown in the States. He’s always given us his very best and there have been no excuses, but my gut feeling is that he’s just short of Group 1 class on dirt.”
De Kock believes the time has come to broaden the five-year-old’s horizons: “After Saturday I think we’ll let him have a crack at running on turf. He’s by Dubawi, and we can head to Hong Kong for the Queen Elizabeth II Cup which has been a lucky race for us and we have won twice.
Fawree, under Bernard Fayd’Herbe, will attempt to emulate Mubtaahij by winning the UAE Derby on Saturday.
“He is a very talented horse who sadly suffered a setback and had to be scratched from his trial (Al Bastakiya) on Super Saturday. He broke out of the stalls and unseated Bernard.
“We’ve had South Africa horse whisperer Malan du Toit working with him and he’s done a very good job to the extent that it’s almost as if the horse is tranquilized.
“Last Friday Fawree passed his stalls test and on the day he will be loaded last. The stewards have been particularly cooperative over this.”
De Kock concludes: “We have a select team of two which should have been more than twice the size, but in Mubtaahij we have our main player in the main race and we are in it to win.”
Two horses that have lit up the training track and look betting prospects are Zarak in the Group 1 Dubai Turf and Amazing Kids in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint, respectively representing France and Hong Kong.
Zarak, owned by the Aga Khan, is by far the best offspring to race of brilliant racemare Zarkava, while Amazing Kids will have the world-renowned Brazilian jockey Joao Moreira in the saddle.
* TAB will host the global tote pools on the Dubai World Cup meeting as normal and will operate a full range of pools on the event. Race 1 starts at 1.45pm.