x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Rocket Man out to dethrone Kinsale King at Meydan this World Cup

Rocket Man has some unfinished business at Meydan Racecourse as he chases the sprint king crown.

Rocket Man has some unfinished business at Meydan Racecourse as he chases the sprint king crown.
Last year he came to Dubai with a huge reputation but that was quickly dented by the performance of Kinsale King, who prevailed by half a length in the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen.
Rocket Man, trained in Singapore by Patrick Shaw, has been prepared to put things right on Saturday.
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Robbie Fradd restrained Rocket Man just off the pace 12 months ago. It proved to be a one of those split decisions that all jockeys regret because the initiative was handed immediately to Kinsale King, who did not need a second opportunity to take first run.
And Carl O'Callaghan, the trainer of last year's winner, was gracious enough yesterday to accept that he had been on the receiving end of some good fortune. "He's a really special horse," said the Irishman of Rocket Man.
"If you look at the video last year he got boxed in and it probably cost him the race. They won't be asleep this year; they'll be on their ball game."
Kinsale King did not win again in 2010, and after a solid effort at Royal Ascot in England he bombed in the July Cup. A problem with his feet, mixed with the atrocious Kentucky weather at Churchill Downs, saw him finish seventh in the Breeders' Cup Sprint in November.
After re-grouping back in California, O'Callaghan unleashed his stable star on an unassuming allowance race at Golden Gate Fields last month. Crucially, the track features a Tapeta surface and the six-year-old led from the moment the gates opened to when he cruised past the wining post in front.
It was a brutal performance and he covered the first quarter of a mile in 22.50 seconds to clock a total time of 1min 09.57secs.
On the back of that run, O'Callaghan is confident that his stable star is in perfect shape to defend his title.
"He's put on eight pounds since he got here," he said. "I did a bit more work than I should have done on Monday, but he peaked really good so we'll just bide our time over the next couple of days. He is happy within himself."
Kinsale King has been drawn in stall one, on the inside of Meydan's six-furlong bend, while Rocket Man jumps the gate from the wide position in stall nine. It raises the prospect of the Singapore star encountering traffic problems once again.
"I'm not too pleased with the gate he's got," Shaw said. "I would have liked to be a little bit in. Obviously he will now have to use a bit of gate speed to get over. He's versatile, he was ridden off the pace in Hong Kong but he's better up there."
Rocket Man is by far the most consistently brilliant horse that Shaw has trained and it was apparent from the gelding's early career that he was going right to the top.
"He had been with me for four months and after his third piece of fast work I knew we had something special.
"He went up the divisions in his work so quickly and then I put him with a B division horse and he picked him up. I then put him with a nine-time winner called British Navy and he played with him - he never even reached a gallop."
Rocket Man won his first seven races, whereas Kinsale King won only one of his first four starts. As a result it is easy to draw the conclusion that Kinsale King plays the underdog to Rocket Man's more natural abilities.
The same could be said of the two trainers, the driven South African with a long track record of success up against the former homeless Irishman, who scooped his share of US$2million (Dh7.34) on the biggest night of his life.
O'Callaghan performed a victory jig in front of the Meydan grandstand last year but has clearly been working on his choreography in anticipation of another success.
"Winning last year was a huge accomplishment in my life. We've come a long way from a five-horse stable in California to where we are now," he said. "I might do some break-dancing or something if we win this time. We've got to get there first though."