x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Godolphin sending 17 runners to halt de Kock at Meydan

Godolphin sends out 17 runners for tonight's meeting at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai in an effort to end the dominance of South African trainer Mike de Kock.

DUBAI // Godolphin will be aiming to break Mike de Kock's scintillating run of form at Meydan Racecourse tonight with the Dubai racing operation saddling 17 runners.

The featured $250,000 (Dh918,000) UAE 2,000 Guineas over 1,600m has been won four times by both De Kock and Godolphin's Saeed bin Suroor, yet Frankie Dettori, the Godolphin rider, acknowledges the South African trainer holds the upper hand.

Dettori rides the bin Suroor-trained Buffum, while Mahmoud al Zarooni, Godolphin's other trainer, saddles Bridgefield under Ahmed Ajtebi. De Kock has the favourite in Zanzamar, who won the 2,000 Guineas Trial in fine style over 1,400m

"Buffum's got a lot to prove," Dettori said of his twice-raced US-bred mount. "He won a maiden and then he got beaten in a Group race by a long way. Obviously Richard Hills will be on the favourite, Zanzamar, which won the trial."

Zanzamar, who represents a solitary runner in De Kock's string for owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, is said to have come on from his winning UAE debut and will appreciate the step up in distance.

De Kock also saddles Abstrato, ridden by Kevin Shea.

Dettori rates Kingsfort, his mount in the concluding 1,800m handicap, as a live chance.

Third in his preparation run at Meydan Racecourse last month, Kingsfort is opposed by other bin Suroor-trained horses, Mac Love ridden by Ted Durcan, Sahara Kingdom under Mikail Barzalona and al Zarooni's 2010 Meydan Classic winner, Frozen Power.

The Godolphin-trained horses take on De Kock's Irish Flame, second in the Durban July Handicap, and his 2010 UAE Oaks heroin Raihana, who is the pick of Christophe Soumillon.

Dettori was spoiled for choice in the listed 1,600m Firebreak Stakes where he had the pick of Skysurfers, third in the Godolphin Mile, or Gayego, third in the Breeders' Cup Mile (dirt) .

"I went for Skysurfers," Dettori said. "He does very well here and does very well fresh. It was a tough decision between him and Gayego but I think Skysurfers is usually at his best first time up. I like Gayego a lot, but he's a bit older, a bit bigger, so it takes a couple of races for the engine to get going."

Bin Suroor's runners face Herman Brown's Bankable, the runner-up in the Dubai Duty Free, who renews his rivalry with De Kock's Imbongi, third in the Duty Free.

De Kock holds a strong hand with Musir, the duel 2010 Classic winner, while David Marnane's bang-in-form Dandy Boy, already a turf winner this season, attempts a victory on the Tapeta.