Sei Ishizaka, trainer of Gentildonna
Sei Ishizaka, trainer of Gentildonna

Watch interview with Sei Ishizaka, trainer of Gentildonna

(Image and footage - Dubai Racing Meydan)


Meydan, 30 March 2013

We did say we’d bring you some titbits on the prospects of the South African-connected runners in this weekend’s World Cup extravaganza, once we’d spoken to our pals in Dubai. The low-down at this stage looks like this:

  • Mike de Kock has at least one entry in each of the races on the card; bear in mind, they kick off at 15:45 pm on Saturday (Channel 239). While he’s hopeful of getting his grubby fingers on a bit of the largesse from each of these races, he’s a realist and he knows where he’s outgunned. His big hopes for the evening are Shea Shea in the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint, and Soft Falling Rain (despite his poor draw) in the $2 million Godolphin Mile. The latter defends an unbeaten record in his most searching contest to date, but we should add that in his education at Summerhill, the Highlands-bred always had the looks of a budding star.
  • Riding arrangements for the evening are confusing: historically, Christophe Soumillion has had the pick of the mounts in Dubai, and while he throws a leg over Shea Shea in the Sprint, Paul Hanagan will strap his saddle on Soft Falling Rain. Soumilion stays with the reluctant-looking hero of last year’s $5 million Duty Free, Master Of Hounds, but goes the mile this time. This may just be a case of history repeating itself, which explains the way the cards have been stacked. Soumillion is in the irons for Kavanagh in the Golden Shaheen ($2million), where he has a tough assignment against last year’s ace, Krypton Factor and the American flyer, Trinniburg.
  • In the UAE Derby, where his five previous scores have provided de Kock with some of his most memorable triumphs in the past, it seems Emotif and Zahee are more hopeful than likely, though with De Kock you never know. Just when you think you’ve got him on the canvas, he gets you with a hook right under the chin.
  • In the World Cup itself, Soumillion once again gets the chance on Galileo’s Treasure Beach, though here we have a sentimental favourite in Animal Kingdom, who belongs to a couple of mates, Barry Irwin’s Team Valor, who bred and raced this winner of America’s most famous race, the Kentucky Derby, and John Messara of Arrowfield Stud in Australia. They’re not alone though in a pretty competitive field, as they have the Breeder’s Cup heroine and Eclipse champion, Royal Delta to contend with, as well as Group One winners Red Cadeaux and Dullahan.
  • As usual, the $5 million Duty Free has attracted a competitive line-up, headed by the New Zealand-bred Ocean Park, (four Group Ones to his tally to date), America’s City Style and High Chaparral’s repeat Group One winner, Wigmore Hall. At her best, we’d have to think Igugu would have had the measure of them all, but we’ve only now discovered the reason behind her early lack of form. She suffered a fractured splint bone while she was in England, which set her back more than a month at a crucial time, hence the fact that The Apache, who was nowhere near her measure in South Africa, has shown superior form in Dubai, and it’s not without a chance again on Saturday. De Kock’s entry is rounded out by Mushreq, who is apparently an outside chance of making the money.
  • It’s arguable that the most competitive challenge on the card is the $5 million Sheema Classic (2410 metres), which includes the Japanese Horse of The Year, Gentildonna (see article on her astonishing work performance below), world class Ballydoyle inmate, St Nicholas Abbey, and the Melbourne Cup hero Dunaden. De Kock has an intriguing entry with Pat Cosgrave, whose said to have a special affinity with his horse: Await The Dawn was touted as a future superstar earlier in his career, but he is yet to live up to that billing in Group One company. His form in Dubai has been mixed, with a down-the-field finish when needing his opening start, an impressive romp in Handicap company next time out, and a staying-on second in the City Of Gold (Gr.2) at his last appearance, where it has to be said, he was the victim of a muddling pace. It wasn’t a star-studded field, and you might have expected more of him in that case, if he was anywhere near his top. That said, if the Await The Dawn we thought he was pitches up on the night, he will trouble his more illustrious foes, as well as the judge. Only Saturday night will tell.

Either way, there’s more than R350 million up for grabs on the day, and it’s a feast no hardcore racing fan can afford to miss.

Gentildonna looks sharp in Meydan Work…

There should be no denying the most impressive mover of Monday’s trackwork session at Meydan - 2012 Japan Cup winner Gentildonna (Jpn) (Deep Impact). Making her first appearance out of quarantine, she came on the course with two countrymates, G2 UAE Derby longshot Keiai Leone (Jpn) (Henny Hughes) and similarly big priced Dubai Golden Shaheen chance Taisei Legend (Jpn) (King Kamehameha). All three emerged in a straight line out of the 1,600-meter chute and moved onto the main course and Gentildonna was gone. Under nothing more than a Hopwood, Dubai Racing Club steady gallop, she powered away from the pair and opened up a 300-meter lead around the far turn, hitting the finish more than 200 meters in front. She pulled up seemingly on her own 200 meters past the wire and was happy as a peach, while the apparently overmatched pair behind her were lathered and winded after running on their own in a distant wake. Gentildonna’s trainer Sei Ishizaka was not on hand, but has been to Dubai before, bringing Vermilion (Jpn) (El Condor Pasa) here twice, running a distant fourth in the 2007 G1 Dubai World Cup and then last in the 2008 edition.

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News