x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Asiatic Boy has tilt at World Cup

Last week was a good one with JJ The Jet Plane showing just how good he is back on his favoured turf surface.

Last week was a good one with JJ The Jet Plane showing just how good he is back on his favoured turf surface. The critics had been out in force after he was beaten on dirt on his first UAE start but we never lost faith in him and, after a blistering piece of work the previous Saturday, we expected a big run. He certainly did not let us down and we can hopefully have a lot of fun in Europe with this horse.

With our main Dubai Duty Free contender Archipenko also winning on the night it was arguably the highlight of our season this year to date and, hopefully, as we have maintained all along we are bringing the horses to peak fitness in time for their main targets on Dubai World Cup night. With invites still to be earned, it brings us to this week and Super Thursday, the second biggest meeting of the campaign and we have a busy night in store. Asiatic Boy, the runner-up in last year's World Cup and winner of the 2007 UAE Derby, is back and will run a big race in the Maktoum Challenge III - a race we won in 2004 with Victory Moon. We were pleased with his comeback and he remains on target for the World Cup itself.

So does Honour Devil, last year's UAE Derby winner and he runs over a mile tomorrow; he too ran as we expected first time and would have badly needed that run. It is a nice position to be in with two live ante-post chances for the world's richest horse race - the US$6 million (Dh22m) Dubai World Cup. Honour Devil is well drawn but Asiatic Boy less so and that will make life harder for him. Art of War also runs in the Maktoum Challenge and continues in good form at home, while Stubbs Art joins Honour Devil in the mile race as he makes his dirt debut.

Surveyor and Ipi Tombe both won the Group 2 Jebel Hatta for us in the past and we are well represented in the Dubai Duty Free trial this year with Biarritz, Imbongi and Russian Sage giving us a strong hand in a wide open contest. We have also won the City of Gold twice and King of Rome, Front House and Macarthur give us a strong trio this year. Diana's Choice and Hunting Tower run in the dirt sprint and Rocks Off will appreciate running against his own age group back on turf but it is the feature races we need to be going close in.

Nice to play golf last Wednesday with a collection of racing personalities and fun was had by all at the Emirates Golf Club thanks to the generosity of Malih Al Basti. I would like to thank him on everyone's behalf. Mick Patton was my partner in crime and we were, interestingly, paired against Chief Steward Gerard Bush. We survived a couple of 'stewards' enquiries' and it was a fun afternoon and a relaxing interlude from the main business.

We may not have won the overall competition but I did at least have the satisfaction of winning a 'longest drive' prize. There was an equine sale last night and we had several in the catalogue as we start to think ahead to the forthcoming campaign in Europe and next season here in the UAE. We cannot keep all the horses we have in training, obviously, so selling is a big part of the job - and hopefully not letting the wrong ones go!

It is always interesting to follow the progress of horses we have trained in the past and we always wish their new connections well. @Email:sports@thenational.ae