DUBAI // It is early days, but Mike de Kock could be forgiven for thinking of a possible fifth UAE Derby success after Musir powered home in the Group Three US$250,000 (Dh918,274) UAE 2,000 Guineas at Meydan Racecourse last night. So impressed was the South African with the manner of Musir's victory, he went so far as to rate the colt higher than his other Derby winners, Victory Moon, Lundy's Liability, Asiatic Boy and Honour Devil.
"I have won the race four times with some good, tough, hard-knocking horses but this one has more class," he said. De Kock had been keen to see how his charge, under Christophe Soumillon, would handle the Derby trip. Any concerns over the Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa-owned colt's staying power were laid to rest. Winner of the prep over seven furlongs at the start of the month, Musir was untroubled by the step-up to a mile yesterday and the extended nine furlongs of the World Cup day-race should also present few problems.
"I wanted to see if he would stay the Derby distance and after that performance I'm not worried," said de Kock who also saddled Frosty Secret to victory under Kevin Shea in the six furlong Haafhd Shadwell Estate handicap. "He looked to have plenty left in the tank. I am getting good feelings from him but I don't want to say too much at this stage. There is still six weeks to go and anything can happen."
Godolphin claimed the Group Three $200,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round II for Thoroughbreds with Allybar, the horse that upset Presvis in a three-horse race two weeks ago. Ahmed Ajtebi was in the saddle as the swift-footed colt forged to the front and held off a late challenge from Crowded House. "We were very happy that he won again," said trainer Saeed bin Suroor. He had earlier saddled Emirates Champion who romped home in the Naqoos Shadwell Estate handicap and Sirocco Breeze who claimed the Nayef Shadwell Estate both for Frankie Dettori.
"Allybar has won a Group Three now and we are sure that we can find another race for him," he said. Doug Watson may be a die-hard dirt enthusiast but Nirwan had no objection to the new Tapeta surface in winning the Al Maktoum Challenge Round II for Purebred Arabians winner. Nirwan is now likely to head straight for the Dubai Kahayla Classic on World Cup day. "He didn't like the old dirt track," said Watson. "He won his first two starts at Nad al Sheba easily, but when he came up against better horses, he just wouldn't face the kick-back," said Watson. "Tapeta suits him."
Ryan Moore won the Aqlaam Shadwell Estate Handicap on Leahurst who has now won twice at Meydan Racecourse. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org