Mike de Kock has only two horses participating in Saturday’s Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan Racecourse and he feels both are capable of at least placing in their respective races.
Janoobi, winner of the Grade 2 Gauteng Guineas last year, is carded to race in the $5-million Dubai Turf (Group 1) over 1800m while SA Derby winner and Vodacom Durban July runner-up Al Sahem will run in the Grade 2 Dubai Gold Cup over 3200m.
De Kock had a chat to Andrew Bon about his expectations for Saturday’s world’s richest raceday with prize money of $30 million.
“Janoobi has done very well in Dubai,” said De Kock. “He has actually thrived. He’s a horse we took expecting to be competitive and did not quite know if he was good enough to win a Group 2 which he did. And he won at a high level. There were some properly smart horses around him.
“When he got beat in the Al Fahidi Fort, the winner, Jungle Cat, came out and won a Group 3 so the form is pretty good. Not much went his way last time but he was dogged in the finish. He put his head down and he wanted to be there.”
Janoobi has been doing quite a bit of racing recently but De Kock is not overly concerned. “He’s been on the boil for a long time but he’s a tough horse and he’s own the South African ag with pride.
“It’s just a matter of keeping him happy and t. He’s a very, very happy horse at the moment.”
Al Sahem has yet to win a race in Dubai but he did kick on well last time in the Group 2 Dubai City Of Gold over 2400m when fifth behind Hawkbill. “Al Sahem is coming along nicely,” said De Kock.
“He did run to his rating last time. It’s a very tough division a mile and a half (2400m) and more. He won over 2450m at Turffontein and he stayed the 2200m in the July at Greyville so we’re going to go for the marathon. He’s not good enough to run in the mile and a half (2400m) at Group 1 level.
“You get horses out there who have won Coral Eclipses and Group 1s in Europe. You’re not going to beat them, you’ve got no chance. So we’re going to run him in the 3200m but we’re t, we’re well.
“He’s a very sound horse, apart from the wind (breathing) issue.”
Speaking about the Carnival and looking ahead to next year, De Kock added: “It’s very competitive here but that’s good, it’s what it should be. Godolphin showed this year that if you bring the right horses how much success you can have.
“If I could take five Janoobis we would be where Godolphin are. We took a conscious decision not to ship young horses. It’s pointless trying to run them on the dirt. I’ve got horses like Alfolk and Mujaafy in quarantine at the moment.
“Hopefully at the end of the season I will have few more horses who have finished their three-year-old careers and will go on to Dubai. I think they will y the ag there. They’re certainly good enough to be in the Carnival and will improve with the time they’re going to have.
“The unfortunate thing is they are in quarantine in January and the next time you’ll see them is in January one year later. They are losing a crucial time of the year, ie three-year-old. But it is what it is. Sheikh Hamdan is pre y keen to have his horses compete at the Carnival.”
On that subject De Kock paid tribute on his website, www.mikedekockracing.com, to Sheikh Hamdan after his R5-million lly, Ghaalla, ridden by Gavin Lerena, won her 1160m debut at Turffontein.
“Sheikh Hamdan has been good to South African racing, he has supported us for many years and has been invaluable to both of our major sales events.
“Ghaalla was the sales-topper at BSA’s National Yearling Sale last year, Sheikh Hamdan put big money down to secure her and it’s a relief she’s won. She has ability to go with her good looks and shouldn’t be long in earning him some black type. She will come into her own around the turn, probably up to a mile,” added De Kock.
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