x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Steven Burridge's World Cup dream

Jockey-turned-trainer fancies three of his horses to make the cut for the Dubai mega event.

Steven Burridge, second from left, speaking with Queen Elizabeth II, is a jockey-turned-trainer.
Steven Burridge, second from left, speaking with Queen Elizabeth II, is a jockey-turned-trainer.

DUBAI // Singapore's 2010 champion trainer, Steven Burridge, will saddle four horses at Meydan Racecourse this season, marking his first foray into the Dubai World Cup Carnival.

Burridge, a jockey-turned-trainer, won more than 1,000 races in a riding career spanning two decades in Macao and his native Australia. His horses arrived at Meydan on December 22 in order to acclimatise to the cooler conditions.

Three of the four, Captain Obvious, Dark Matter and Ip Man are considered hopefuls to reach World Cup night.

"It has been something I've been looking at for quite a while," Burridge said. "While I've got the opportunity to take some nice horses over and the owners are happy to go, then it is worthwhile having a shot.

"I'll be guided by how they perform as to how long they stay. If they show good enough form they might stay all the way through to World Cup night. Otherwise they can come home."

Burridge's wife, Julie, and assistant, Mick Lockett, have looked after the runners in Dubai during the lead-in to the Carnival.

Heading the Burridge team is Captain Obvious, a big, six-year-old grey who has confirmed good form in Malaysia and Singapore.

"Captain Obvious is the one that has the most experience and the best form so far," Lockett said.

The horse has 13 wins in 21 starts, he said, with three wins from six starts in Singapore. Captain Obvious has won from 1,000m to 1,400m. His last start was a victory on the Polytrack at Kranji over 1,100m.

Apache Crown, another six year old, is a regular rival to Captain Obvious. He has two wins in Singapore but he has never finished ahead of his stablemate when they are paired in the same race.

Dark Matter, a three year old and a possible Derby hope, is causing excitement in the Burridge camp. Hippocrates Stable's Tan Kai Cha, the man who owns the Group 1-winning Dragon Pulse in Ireland, bought Dark Matter at auction and the smart colt has proved a good investment.

"In all honesty, I would be terribly disappointed if he didn't get to World Cup night," said Lockett, who knows the city well, having worked with the former Dubai trainer John Sadler for three years.

He said the main goals for Dark Matter will be the Guineas and Derby and his first outing here will be the Guineas Trial on January 12. Dark Matter has had four wins and three seconds from eight starts. "We think there's more to come from him," Lockett said. "We're just looking to get him some black type in the form book and then, who knows, a lot can happen in racing, but he's an exciting prospect."

The lightly raced Ip Man scored by almost six lengths over 1,200m in Singapore in November, and was a two-lengths third in a step up in class on his latest outing.

Lockett said the runners appeared to have settled well in their winter home at World Cup Quarantine Stables, located behind Meydan Racecourse.

"We are planning to have a little trial in the next few days when they'll just jump from the gates and have a gallop and we'll take it from there," Lockett said. "All the signs are that they are handling the Tapeta and settling in well."

Also back in Dubai from Singapore is 2011's Al Quoz Sprint third, Better Be The One, for the trainer Michael Freedman.

Better Be The One claimed a Singapore Group 3 contest by three-quarters-of-a-length from Burridge's Apache Crown at last outing in October.

sports@thenational.ae