Trainer Mike de Kock is sending Bold Silvano out one more time to see if the six year old is ready for the Dubai World Cup on March 31.
Bold Silvano gets chance to state his case for a World Cup bid
The fragile six year old was one of the most talked-about horses in the UAE last season and was installed as favourite for the 2011 World Cup after romping home in the second round of the Al Maktoum Challenge ahead of Godolphin's Spring of Fame.
But he was withdrawn from the US$10m (Dh36.7m) race after picking up an injury during his final preparations.
Bold Silvano, who won South Africa's biggest race in 2010, is to be given another chance to prove himself for the showpiece race at Meydan Racecourse.
"Tonight is the big test," De Kock said.
"He's either good enough or he isn't and we will find out. I have been very happy with how he's worked at home. He's going a lot better than before the Firebreak Stakes and now it's basically time to see exactly where he is.
"He has always been treated as our World Cup horse and that has been the target for a long time."
After 53 weeks off the track, the son of Silvano made his Meydan Racecourse return in February's 1,600m Group 3 Firebreak Stakes, a trip somewhat short of his best. He finished fifth and De Kock acknowledged he was relieved more than anything else after his charge pulled up sound.
"He had been off the track a long time and, to be honest, I was more delighted by the fact that he came out of that race well and had not picked up any injuries than by the way he acquitted himself," De Kock said.
"That race was essentially a training gallop for him and with a clearer passage he may have gone closer, but the World Cup is the target."
De Kock is the most successful international trainer in the history of the Dubai Carnival but is yet to win the big race on World Cup day.
The South African and his team at Blue Stables, including his assistants Trevor Brown and Steven Jell, have spent many months preparing Bold Silvano for this year's World Cup.
A combination of trackwork, treadmill work and time in the specially purchased horse spa have all been used to keep the runner sound.
"It's a long slow process with him," De Kock said. "We are always very careful with how hard we push him but we know he's come on for his run in the Firebreak and he will just keep getting better with each run."
Christophe Soumillon, De Kock's stable rider, takes the ride on Bold Silvano while Kevin Shea will partner second-string Irish Flame in the same race.
De Kock also saddles Meydan specialist Musir in the Group 3 Burj Nahar.
"He's doing very well," De Kock said. "He is a very honest little horse with a great turn of foot."
Musir is on for his third consecutive victory in the UAE this season after claiming the first round of the 1,600m Group 3 Al Maktoum Challenge on the all-weather and the 1,800m Group 2 Al Rashidiya on the turf.
He stays at the mile (1,800m) trip this evening, a distance that his handler feels is his best.
"I think this is his best trip, he's doing very well indeed and we know that he's very comfortable around Meydan," De Kock said.
Also in the fray for De Kock and principal owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa is Mickdaam, the three year old.
Mickdaam, who finished second to Godolphin's Kinglet in the 1.600m UAE 2,000 Guineas by just quarter-of-a-length, is expected to improve when he steps up to tonight's trip of 1,900m.
"This is much more his trip," said De Kock. "He will be far more comfortable here or even over further."
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