x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Viscount Nelson finds his footing in Dubai World Cup Carnival race

Victory in Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort at Meydan Racecourse vindicates Mike De Kock's hard work on a horse difficult to train.

Zanzamar was one of three horses trained by Ali Rashid al Raihe to win on Thursday night.
Zanzamar was one of three horses trained by Ali Rashid al Raihe to win on Thursday night.

The Mike de Kock-trained Viscount Nelson earned his jockey, Kevin Shea, a record fifth victory in the featured Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort on Thursday night.

Viscount Nelson, who had to be scratched ahead of his last race due to a bruised foot, made a startling recovery to swoop to the line ahead of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid's runner-up Albaasil and third-placed stablemate, Master of Hounds.

De Kock, who was winning the race for a fourth time, said he felt Viscount Nelson was a Dubai Duty Free horse, but he would stop off for an 1,800m Group 1 contest on Super Saturday first.

"There is a big pool of owners to consult before we make a definite plan," said De Kock, who has a share in the former Coolmoore horse. "But I think he will get a run in the Jebel Hatta. He's not an easy horse to train and a lot of congratulations must go to the team who put an awful lot of work into this horse."

Shea, who rides Viscount Nelson every morning, said that De Kock's team devotes hours every day to the training of the tricky runner.

"He's just a little bit of a gentle horse and so we haven't been able to push him too hard," he said. "We spend a two hours on him every morning and give him a bit of pampering but he's really responded well to it.

"It has been two months of very hard work every morning with this horse."

According to Shea, De Kock drew comparisons between Viscount Nelson and the trainer's now-retired Group 1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup winner, Archipenko, at the beginning of the season.

"When this horse came to us, Mike handed him over to me and said, 'he's your horse, get him right and he [the ride] is yours. If you get him right, you never know, he could be another Archipenko,'" said Shea.

And now that Viscount Nelson has shown his class, Shea's hard work will be just beginning as World Cup day and it's two turf races, the 1,800m Duty Free and the 2,400m Sheema Classic draw near.

"He doesn't feel like an out-and-out stayer," said Shea. "But who knows, a lot can change between now and March 31. We'll have to see what happens."

Meanwhile Godolphin's Delegator, the horse who finished second to the all-conquering Sea the Stars in the 2009 Newmarket 2,000 Guineas, is set to chart a course to the World Cup Day Godolphin Mile.

Delegator has not been seen since his disappointing 14th in the Haydock Sprint Cup last September. But on Thursday night he showed his class, holding on to deny Dhruba Selvaratnam's Jaasoos in the final stages of the 1,400m turf handicap.

Drawn in stall 13, Delegator, under Frankie Dettori, had to win the hard way. Yet despite concerted pressure from a strong-finishing Jaasoos, Delegator finished three-quarters-of-a-length ahead.

Champion trainer Ali Rashid al Raihe claimed a double on the night with Zain Shamardal and Happy Dubai bringing his winning tally to a table-topping 34 for the season. De Kock also finished the night with two wins after Zanzamar won the last race of the evening.

sports@thenational.ae