Super Saturday will help give a strong indication to the field for the Dubai World Cup night at the end of March, writes Geoffrey Riddle.
Big show on Dubai World Cup night the goal for rivals Mike De Kock and Godolphin
One inescapable truth about the legion of thoroughbreds that run under Mike de Kock's banner at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday is that all of those that progress to Dubai World Cup night in three weeks will be a lot better for their Super Saturday performance.
De Kock has been at pains all season to highlight that his crack squad of 25 horses have the ultimate aim of the most valuable night in racing, and at the business end of the UAE season he will saddle 11 runners across the eight-race Super Saturday card.
Igugu stands as the totemic leader of this band of equine brothers and sisters, with the filly set to lead stablemates Master Of Hounds and The Apache to match strides with Godolphin's three runners in the Jebel Hatta.
De Kock's trio face the Dubai-based organisation's Sahjjhaa, City Style and Sharestan in the final race.
The hard yards in the battle for supremacy between the two most successful stables to compete at the Dubai World Cup Carnival will take place, however, in the Al Bastikiya, the opening thoroughbred contest.
De Kock's Emotif and Zahee take on Godolphin's Snowboarder, Fortify and Secret Number in the Listed 1,900-metre contest.
Emotif almost died of a muscle tissue problem when she arrived at Dubai in November.
De Kock's 12 victories in Dubai this season have come largely from second outings - most of his horses improved following their lengthy quarantine from South Africa.
Emotif on the other hand has struggled to recover sufficiently and having finished fifth in her two outings at Meydan she is still well off the pace required.
"It has been very tough for her and she still hasn't really clicked," De Kock said.
"I'm not convinced with the Tapeta for her. She is a lot fitter horse now though."
Treasure Beach has also had various issues and is thrown in against Little Mike in Round 3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge.
The 2011 Irish Derby winner has not run since finishing 10th in the Breeders' Cup Turf in November.
De Kock has nursed him back and is looking for some sign that his faith will be repaid when Treasure Beach makes his seasonal bow under the guidance of Pat Cosgrave.
"It is an experiment, trying the all-weather as we know he handles turf well," De Kock said. "He's not fully wound up. He had quite significant soundness issues, which we have pretty much dealt with now."
If Igugu is out to justify her reputation, then it is Await The Dawn who is out to confirm his.
Cosgrave also takes the ride on the six year old in the Group 2 Dubai City Of Gold, having partnered him to an emphatic victory last month on turf.
It was Await The Dawn's second run at Meydan and with Cosgrave on board and De Kock is confident of a big run.
"He's a been a revelation here," the trainer said.
"He has speed, he can relax, sit up front, he has been an absolute pleasure to work with."
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