DUBAI // It is not uncommon for an older horse to make the switch from flat racing to racing over jumps. What is more unusual is when a classy flat horse switches successfully to the jumps and then makes a winning move back to the flat.
And it is nothing short of remarkable when that horse ends up competing at Dubai International Racing Carnival, a 10-meeting festival, starting tonight, that attracts some of the highest-rated flat specialists in the world.
But the eight-year-old Bergo is currently eating up the frost-covered miles at Gary Moore's Cisswood Racing Stable in England, in preparation for his Carnival tilt.
Bergo arrives in Dubai next month in the charge of Moore's daughter, Hayley, who will be riding the German-bred gelding at the training track before he contests the Listed 2,800m Nad al Sheba Trophy on February 17.
The determined stayer has 11 victories to his name - four wins and a Group 3 second as a flat runner in Europe before recording six wins in hurdles and chases, three of them while with Moore.
Last season, he successfully switched back to the flat racing, winning at Royal Ascot in the Queen Alexandria Stakes under Moore's son, Ryan, a three-time British champion jockey.
"Fairly often you get horses that are good on the flat when they are younger and as they get older you take them hurdling and chasing but you don't normally expect them to go back," Hayley said.
"But he's just such an honest horse who always tries so hard for you. My dad has done really well with him because he's quite a fragile horse and to get a chaser back and give him enough speed to win over the flat is actually quite tough."
In addition to Ryan, who last season became the first jockey to ride an Oaks and Derby double and who also won the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe, Hayley has two more brothers. Josh and Jamie are both successful jump jockeys, while Hayley has also ridden in amateur races.
The Moore yard is also where Harry Bentley, the leading apprentice in Dubai this domestic season, is attached during the summer.
Moore Snr will not be coming to Dubai as he must oversee runners in England, but Hayley said he will be issuing instructions over the telephone.
"Oh, he'll know exactly what's going on," she said. "He'll be wanting to know how Bergo is working and whether he's eating up."
The Moore family is not without prior experience in the UAE though. Ryan has been riding in Dubai for a number of years while Gary saddled a Carnival runner here in 2005. And Hayley, 23, spent the last Carnival working as a rider for Luca Cumani, the top trainer, and later for Herman Brown.
"That will be a massive help," she said.
"It just gives me confidence because I know the set-up and learned about the different methods to use at the track because it's very difficult for internationals to come and prepare a horse on a training track, especially because we have gallops at home with hills rather than a track. I also know who to ask for advice if I need it and Ryan will be there."
Asked what kind of horse Bergo was in the stable, Hayley proved her point.
"Oh, he's just such a gentleman," she said. "He's very sweet-natured. He's the kind of horse that, if he was a person and you were a bit boring, you would want him for your boyfriend."
Where: Meydan Racecourse in Dubai
The card: Eight races; first race at 6.35pm
Feature: Race 7, 1,600m handicap, US$200,000 (Dh734,000) purse