Mike de Kock leads Saeed bin Suroor by two victories going into Thursday's final meeting of the Dubai International Racing Carnival.
Race to the finish for trainers Mike de Kock and Saeed bin Suroor
DUBAI // The final meeting of the 2011 Dubai International Racing Carnival gets underway tonight and it looks like the battle to be named the top trainer will go right down to the wire.
Saeed bin Suroor, Godolphin's long-time handler, claimed the trainers' championship by a wide margin last season, saddling an incredible 24 winners in just 10 meetings.
This year the fight for top Carnival trainer is a much tighter affair with bin Suroor lagging two behind his old foe Mike de Kock's total of 15.
Bin Suroor is this year sharing Godolphin training duties with Mahmoud al Zarooni and the new handler has posted eight Carnival victories in his first international season to share third place with Ali Rashid al Raihe.
Doug Watson experienced a recent surge in form to roar into fifth with three winners while Herman Brown has two.
Godolphin saddles 23 horses, including reserves, with bin Suroor accounting for 16 of those, and it would be a major surprise if the Emirati did not pay a visit to the winner's enclosure tonight. The evening boasts two feature races - the Group 2 Zabeel Mile and the Group 3 DRC Gold Cup.
Bin Suroor saddles two in the Zabeel Mile: the Royal Hunt Cup winner Invisible Man and Australian Group 2 winner Caymans. Invisible Man is the choice of Frankie Dettori, bin Suroor's jockey.
Invisible Man is yet to win in Dubai but is said to be working well.
"He has been training well and improving," said bin Suroor, who will not face De Kock's Group 1-winning filly Here to Win as she will miss the Group 2 outing and will instead contest a handicap over a slightly longer distance.
De Kock, who decided to opt for a handicap to avoid a Group 1 penalty for his charge, said the step up in trip would suit her.
Another bidding to stop the Godolphin juggernaut is Herman Brown who claimed a Group 3 last week with Duty Free contender Bankable. His Mikhail Glinka, a Royal Ascot winner, contests the Group 3 Gold Cup over 3,200m, and takes on six trained by Godolphin handlers as well as Gary Moore's versatile stayer Bergo and Luca Cumani's Drunken Sailor.
"He's won over the trip before and he went very well when coming second to Godolphin's Calvados Blues," said Brown, who also saddles Carnival winner Bronze Cannon in the 2,200m race and Chocolicious and Paulinho in the opening 1,400m conditions outing. "I would say he was my best chance.
"I thought Bronze Cannon went out a little too fast last time but he seems well and we are expecting him to run well."
JJ The Jet Plane, the crack South African sprinter trained by Lucky Houdalakis, makes a return to turf over 1,200m.