x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Jet Plane preparing for a happy landing

JJ The Jet Plane, the all-conquering South African sprinter, faces a stiff examination of his credentials on Saturday when he lines up in the Golden Jubilee Stakes

Mike De Kock oversees JJ The Jet Plane's preparation for The Golden Jubilee Stakes.
Mike De Kock oversees JJ The Jet Plane's preparation for The Golden Jubilee Stakes.

JJ The Jet Plane, the all-conquering South African sprinter, faces a stiff examination of his credentials on Saturday when he lines up in the Golden Jubilee Stakes against some of the best sprinters in the world. The five-year-old son of Jet Master has suffered just one setback since leaving his native country at the end of the 2008 season when he stuttered on dirt at Nad Al Sheba in a Conditions race in Feb, finishing sixth.

But his trainer, Dubai's master craftsman, Mike de Kock, gave him another start on turf just two weeks later in the Group Three Al Quoz Sprint and the plucky gelding romped to victory under the astute guidance of Kevin Shea. With his credentials as an international winner restored, JJ The Jet Plane made the trip to England last month, this time with Ryan Moore in the irons and, carrying top weight, made it look easy in a Listed race at Windsor.

Critics argue that the competition was not exposed at a top level but he put four lengths on them. Yet de Kock expects a much sterner test this weekend. "It's going to be tough with the amount of international stars in that race," said de Kock. "But we are certainly looking forward to it." JJ The Jet Plane's Windsor rivals may not have been in his league, but in Saturday's Golden Jubilee Stakes the South African horse is the one with something to prove, despite being installed as favourite.

Takeover Target, the magnificent nine-year-old warrior prepared by Joe Janiak, will be keen to improve on his eighth-place finish in last month's Group One Krisflyer International Sprint at Kranji Racecourse in Singapore. A veteran of 40 races, the soon-to-be equine film star, may be advancing in age but should never be discounted. He has won the highest-quality races on three continents and become something of a media personality while doing it.

The Australian gelding faces the winner of the Krisflyer, Sacred Kingdom, a former Hong Kong champion who came back from injury to triumph by a nose from local horse, Rocket Man. Trained by Ricky Yu, the six-year-old Sacred Kingdom was described by his jockey, the Australian Brett Prebble, as being a lazy horse who does the bare minimum to win. But winning by a nose is as good as winning by five lengths and there are many who think Sacred Kingdom is good for the title as he is the second favourite with the Willie Haggas-trained King's Apostle, who has already won at the track, third favourite.

stregoning@thenational.ae