After third-place showing last month, Igugu and jockey Anthony Delpech reunite for a Dubai World Cup Carnival warm-up event on Saturday at Meydan Racecourse, writes Geoffrey Riddle.
Dubai World Cup Carnival: Anthony Delpech is back in the saddle again
Igugu will be reunited with Anthony Delpech in the Jebel Hatta at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday as Mike de Kock attempts to prove to the world that the six year old is as good as he privately believes her to be.
South Africa's former Horse of the Year was declared yesterday alongside nine others for the 1,800m race run on turf.
Igugu, owned in part by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa, finished third under Christophe Soumillon to Godolphin's Sajjhaa in the Group 2 Balanchine last month.
According to the Trakus data Igugu set lightning fast fractions and tired towards the end of her first effort on a racecourse in 13 months.
Delpech was on board when guiding Igugu to her career defining success in the J&B Met at Kenilworth in January 2012 and has ridden her in eight of her 13 starts.
"I am very excited and it is no secret that I have wanted to ride for Mike in Dubai for so long and it has finally come together," the jockey, who will ride work at Meydan tomorrow, said.
Delpech is no stranger to Dubai having ridden in the UAE during the 2000 and 2001 seasons at Nad Al Sheba, where he scooped the Dubai Sheema Classic in 2007 on Vengeance Of Rain.
It was the last time Delpech rode in Dubai and he is anxious about his first competitive appearance at Meydan, where he will also ride Emotif in the Al Bastikiya.
"One wouldn't be human not to feel nervous about the occasion," Delpech added, in an interview with Summerhill Stud. "I know that the whole of South Africa will be watching and expecting Igugu to set the record straight.
"So that is a lot of pressure and expectation but she has shown how good she is and I know how good she is. She will be a fitter horse this time, and I just hope everything goes well for us in the race."
De Kock has won the Jebel Hatta three times with Ipi Tombe in 2003, Surveyor a year later and Master Of Hounds last season.
City Style followed Master Of Hounds home last year and lines up alongside Igugu, as does Sajjhaa.
The Super Saturday card will also be graced by Monterosso, who will make his first start in Dubai since winning the Dubai World Cup last year, in Round 3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge.
Ahmad Ajtebi has been handed the ride, the first time he will have ridden the six year old in a race.
Monterosso is one of six entries in the feature for Godolphin, who also run Hunter's Light, Saint Baudolino, Prince Bishop, Mendip and Kassiano.
The 2,000m race attracted 13 runners in all, with Little Mike, the Breeders' Cup Turf winner and Trailblazer, the Japanese raider, heading the international entry.
Meanwhile the Mahab Al Shimaal on Super Saturday at Meydan Racecourse is not the only prep race for the Dubai Golden Shaheen on World Cup night to take place over the next few days.
Krypton Factor, who won the Golden Shaheen last season, was declared yesterday alongside nine others for the Mahab Al Shimaal.
The all-weather track of Dundalk also stages its own event on Friday, which is designed to ready horses from Ireland for the March 30 contest.
Where $US200,00 (Dh734,640)is on offer at the Dubai track, €10,350 (Dh49,549)is up for grabs in Ireland.
Gordon Lord Byron, who won the Qatar Prix De La Foret over seven furlongs at Longchamp in October, lines up against the Group 1-winning sprinter Starspangledbanner in the six-furlong race.
Gordon Lord Byron showed enough speed last season in Europe to finish second in the Group 1 Haydock Sprint Cup and enough stamina to come fourth to Ambitious Dragon in the Hong Kong Mile in December.
“He’s wintered well and hopefully he’s headed for Dubai and the Golden Shaheen” Tom Hogan, who trains in County Tipperary, said.
“He’s more relaxed than he was last year. He’s a bit lazy and it would be hard to go to Dubai without a run and he’s possibly about 90 per cent fit, but he needs to wake up.
“The timing is good and there are a couple of horses in there like Reply and Starspangledbanner. My lad will be giving 6lb to Starspangledbanner, but we want to take him to the racecourse and this is an ideal opportunity.”
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