x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

South African trainers expected to shine

De Kock and Brown, sharing Blue Stable this season, are fielding top horses in Carnival.

Sheikh Mohammad bin Khalifa al Maktoum, second from right, with Mike de Kock, left, the South African trainer.
Sheikh Mohammad bin Khalifa al Maktoum, second from right, with Mike de Kock, left, the South African trainer.

Meydan Racecourse faces a South African invasion tonight as the UAE welcomes back runners from the strings of Mike de Kock and Herman Brown.

De Kock is the most successful overseas trainer at the Dubai International Racing Carnival. He has saddled 95 UAE winners over the years. He claimed US$2.8 million (Dh10.2m) in prize money on World Cup night alone last season.

Brown has also won several top races in the UAE, including the 2008 $5m Dubai Duty Free with Jay Peg, and was runner-up in the same race last season with Bankable.

The two South Africans are sharing Blue Stable this season, where De Kock has 34 horses in training and Brown 15.

Both trainers are giving their runners a pre-Carnival sharpener, with De Kock saddling Mahubo in the 1,200m Meydan Freezone handicap and Mr Crazy Boy and Wonder Lawn in the Meydan Hotel feature conditions race over one mile.

Mr Crazy Boy and Wonder Lawn are opposed by Brown's top-weighted Mikhail Glinka and by Bronze Cannon.

Mikhail Glinka - the Group Three Queen's Vase winner - and Bronze Cannon, who won the 2009 Group Two Hardwicke Stakes, are both having a blow-out over the mile.

"There are races for Mikhail Glinka and Bronze Cannon in the early Carnival but I just wanted to give them both a prep run over the mile to get them going," Brown said.

"The trip is shorter than their best distance but they are well and I still think they will be competitive."

Brown boasts a live chance in the first race of the evening when his Argentine import, Paulinho, a Group One winner at last outing, and Sheer Courage compete in the 1,400m Meydan City Corporation conditions race.

"It's a similar story to the other two," Brown said.

"We are giving them a prep run and depending on what we see we will campaign them for the 2,000 Guineas route during the Carnival."

The Doug Watson-trained Clasp represents Emirates Entertainment Racing Club (EERC) in the same race.

The consistent performer is one of eight UAE-based, EERC syndicate-owned horses.

Justin Byrne, who runs the syndicate, said he was expecting the popular runner to put in his usual 100-per cent effort.

"He's such an honest, consistent performer," said Byrne, who will also be cheering for EERC's recent winner, Mark to Market, and the Carnival winner, Mister Fasilyev in the last race, and Indian Skipper in the fourth.

"Clasp is a small horse but 70 to 80 per cent of his finishes are in the top four. He was third in a listed race in Abu Dhabi last time but this is a tough task.

"Having said that, the Abu Dhabi race was tough, too, and he certainly likes the Tapeta, although he tries so hard I think he'd race down Sheikh Zayed Road if we asked him to."

Byrne cited another Watson runner, Carnival-winner Barbecue Eddie and jockey Wayne Smith's mount, Inestimable, as threats.

"I think you have to respect Herman Brown's runners although it looks like they are in it for the run," he said.

"You can't discount Musabah al Muhairi's horse, Inestimable, who could be very dangerous here, and Barbecue Eddie is another danger."



Race 1 Meydan City Corporation

Time 6.30pm

Distance 1,400m

Prize Money Dh 110,000

Race 2 Mazrat Al Ruwayah

Time 7.05pm

Distance 1,600m

Prize Money Dh 150,000

Race 3 Meydan Sky Bubble

Time 7.45pm

Distance 1,600m

Prize Money Dh 50,000

Race 4 Meydan Freezone

Time 8.20pm

Distance 1,200m

Prize Money Dh 80,000

Race 5 The Meydan Hotel

Time 8.55pm

Distance 1,600m

Prize Money Dh 110,000

Race 6 The Meydan Hotel

Time 9.30pm

Distance 2,000m

Prize Money Dh 80,000