x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Mike de Kock set for European challenge

The South African trainer is to take six horses to Europe with Bold Silvano, injured ahead of the Dubai World Cup, back to full fitness.

Raihana, No 3, will race at Newmarket's July meeting in England before moving to Arlington, the US, in August.
Raihana, No 3, will race at Newmarket's July meeting in England before moving to Arlington, the US, in August.

Mike de Kock is to launch an ambitious raid on Europe's biggest races from Abington Place stables in Newmarket this summer.

De Kock's team is to include Bold Silvano and Golden Sword as well as the fillies Raihana and Mahbooba, and Reem and the mare River Jetez.

The horses are currently in quarantine in Dubai and will leave for England during the first week of May.

Bold Silvano was last seen when winning the second round of the Al Maktoum Challenge in February, a performance which made many consider him to be the favourite for the Dubai World Cup, won by Victoire Pisa last month.

Bold Silvano suffered a foot injury which ruled him out of the world's richest race, but De Kock is confident he will be ready ahead of a prep race in England before an assignment at the Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs in the US in November.

"Bold Silvano will be restored to fitness and hopefully will be ready to be aimed at the Breeders' Cup or go to Hong Kong after having a prep in England," said the South African handler.

De Kock was more specific about the summer targets for Raihana, Mahbooba and Reem, indicating they would race at Newmarket's July meeting before crossing the Atlantic to race at Arlington in August.

"I am going to be looking at the Falmouth Stakes with the fillies, with one or two of them possibly going on to the Beverly D in America."

Also engaged at Newmarket's three-day July meeting will be Musir, who won last season's UAE 2,000 Guineas and Derby and finished seventh behind Victoire Pisa at Meydan Racecourse.

"Musir will have a break after running in Hong Kong [in the Champions Mile on April 25] and I will maybe bring him back for the July Cup," the trainer said.

Abington Place was bought by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa, De Kock's principal patron.

The stables were bought in 2009 from Geoff Wragg, who saddled Pentire to finish fourth behind Cigar in the inaugural Dubai World Cup in 1996.

De Kock used the stables that year as a launch pad for a team of nine, including JJ The Jet Plane, this season's Al Quoz sprint winner, and Imbongi. Although he did not have any horses good enough to train in Europe last season, Kinsale King, the 2010 Dubai Golden Shaheen winner, was housed there by Carl O'Callaghan for his unsuccessful tilts at Royal Ascot and the July meeting.

The first day of the Craven meeting takes place at Newmarket this afternoon, with Crying Lightning representing Dubai form in the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes.

Trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam, the three-year-old filly won a conditions race over 1,400m at Meydan last month.

The daughter of Holy Roman Emperor is owned by footballers Joey Barton, who plays for Newcastle United, and Claudio Pizarro, of Werder Bremen, and is joined in the race by the Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid-owned Maqaasid and Elshabakiya, who is entered in the English 1000 Guineas and Oaks and is owned by Saeed Manana.

sports@thenational.ae