Viewing entries in
Dubai World Cup Carnival

Five In A Row, Eight In The Bag


Five In A Row, Eight In The Bag

Mike de Kock produced a dominating training performance at the fourth meeting of the Dubai World Cup Carnival on Thursday, saddling three winners, two seconds and one third on his way to an eighth Al Rashidiya (Gr.2) success, courtesy of the resurgent Forries Waltz.


Umgiyo Scores in Dubai for Team De Kock


Umgiyo Scores in Dubai for Team De Kock

Summerhill Ready To Run graduate, Umgiyo (Danehill Dancer), won a quality Gulf News Classified turf handicap over 1800m on turf at Meydan in Dubai on Thursday night for trainer Mike de Kock, following a 10-month break and having to endure the tiresome travelling and quarantine schedule to get to his new base.


Mike de Kock DWCC Week 1 Comments


Mike de Kock DWCC Week 1 Comments

It will be surprising to some, but Mike de Kock was in good spirits after the seven of his eleven runners that raced on the new sand track at the first 2015 Dubai World Cup Carnival meeting at Meydan on Thursday were beaten out of sight, all finishing near last or actually last.




The Tapeta track at Meydan racecourse will be replaced by dirt for the start of next season. Tapeta, the brainchild of former trainer Michael Dickinson, has been the artificial surface in place since racing began at Meydan four years ago.




“Britain prides itself with having the best racing in the world, but Japan,

Hong Kong and South Africa are making us all sit up and take notice”

London - The Breeders Cup in the US is a wonderful race meeting, but while the Americans persist with dirt rather than a synthetic surface they will never attract a truly international galaxy of equine stars, and Dubai showed the Yanks just how it can be done last weekend.

Two winners each for Japan and Hong Kong, a home-bred one-two for South Africa, plus victories for Britain, Ireland and Godolphin in the World Cup itself made Meydan a night to remember - and if that was not enough we had Jennifer Lopez topping the bill after racing. It just doesn’t come any better than that.

Ironically, success in the richest race on the globe for Godolphin’s African Story, who has shown himself to be a tapeta specialist and led a clean sweep for the home nation, was met with muted applause - turf stars Military Attack and Ruler of the World clearly failed to fire on the surface - and was hardly the result that Sheikh Mohammed would have liked.

However, we were not short of international fireworks earlier, with Variety Club, South Africa’s Horse of the Year for the last two seasons, enjoying a soft lead out in front in the Godolphin Mile, holding off fellow Springbok Soft Falling Rain to give Joey Ramsden his biggest training triumph.

Mike de Kock will take Soft Falling Rain to Europe, with the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot being the prime target, and, despite having been beaten into third place behind Hong Kong flying machine Amber Sky in the Al Quoz Sprint, stablemate Shea Shea will also be on the plane to Britain, the King’s Stand Stakes at the Royal meeting again being the aim.

Christophe Soumillon asked a huge question of Shea Shea, who did not jump as smartly from the gate as De Kock would have liked, but Amber Sky’s electric early pace had everything on the stretch from a long way out, and it was no surprise to hear that he had shaved Shea Shea’s track record.

The turf sprinters look stronger than their dirt counterparts, though Hong Kong again had plenty to celebrate in the Golden Shaheen, in which the stronger stamina of Sterling City kicked in during the last 150 metres, enabling him to wear down his countryman Rich Tapestry, who is arguably better at 1000m and did well to go so close from his outside draw.

Sterling City, a second winner on the night for Hong Kong-based Brazilian superstar Joao Moreira, who also rode Amber Sky, is a possible for the Golden Jubilee at Royal Ascot, but he will probably take in the KrisFlyer International Sprint in Singapore beforehand.

Dual Japan Cup heroine Gentildonna overcame traffic problems to win the Sheema Classic for the “Land of the Rising Sun”. She is an exceptional mare, and she had to be to come from such an uncompromising position 400 metres from home, having been held in by Christophe Soumillon on the 2012 winner Cirrus Des Aigles.

Ryan Moore, who rode Gentildonna, was lucky to find an escape route in time, and the filly duly got him out of jail, but, while we would love to see her at Royal Ascot, the prize money in Japan is so big that both she and Just A Way, undoubtedly the most impressive winner of the night in the Dubai Duty Free, are likely to stay at home.

Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Trev was rated the best horse in the world last year, but she is in danger of being toppled from her pedestal by Just A Way, who remember had hammered Gentildonna by four lengths in the Tenno Shen earlier in the year.

Mike de Kock’s Vercingetorix produced a career-best performance to finish second, but he had no answer to the gear change of Just A Way, who took a phenomenal 2.41sec off the course record. The Ascot executive have been courting Just A Way for several months and still hope to tempt him to Britain, with a mouth-watering clash with Trev in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes being the bait, but the Yasuda Kinen, which is run around the same time, carries an even more valuable purse and is on his doorstep. So unless Just A Way’s connections opt for prestige over the yen it ain’t going to happen.

Not to be outshone by Moreira, former British champion jockey Jamie Spencer also helped himself to two winners on the card, a shock 33-1 celebration on Irish-trained Certerach in the Dubai Gold Cup, in which Godolphin’s Cavalryman was a desperately unlucky runner-up, being stopped more times than a taxi driver on Sheikh Zayed Road, and following up on Jamie Osborne’sToast of the York in the UAE Derby.

Osborne does not have another horse in his Lambourn yard rated above 80, but for weeks he has been telling anybody who would listen that Toast of New York is “the real deal”, and, having blown the opposition away by the time they had reached the home straight, the trainer feels that it is well worth owner Michael Buckley stumping up the £8,000 next week to supplement the colt for the Epsom Derby.

However, having seen Godolphin avoid a whitewash with a seven-year-old gelding and Coolmore, who mounted their strongest raid yet on Dubai, not managing to get a horse in the first three, one left Dubai on Monday morning feeling that racing’s shift of power was edging towards the Far East.

Britain prides itself with having the best racing in the world, but Japan, Hong Kong and South Africa are making us all sit up and take notice - and long may it continue.

Extract from Tab News




Dubai Duty Free (Group 1)


9 January - 29 March 2014

Mike de Kock reflected with satisfaction on the just completed 2013/14 Dubai International Racing Carnival. While the stable didn’t send out what has become their almost customary winners on Dubai World Cup night, Mike finished second on the Carnival Trainer’s Log and remains the second-most successful trainer in the history of the Carnival, second only to Godolphin’s Saeed bin Suroor.

This year Mike and his team at ‘Blue’ Stables saddled 11 individual winners who won 14 races between them for eight individual owners or partnerships, amassing over USD3,2-million in stake earnings. They won a Gr1 race; two Gr2s and a Gr3. Six of the winners were bred in South Africa for wonderful international exposure including Vercingetorix, who won the Gr1 Jebel Hatta.

Mike’s international stable jockey, Christophe Soumillon, enjoyed his best ever season in the UAE, booting home 13 winners, several of them with thrilling displays of the fearless and often unconventional style that made him a renowned talent worldwide.

Mike commented on Dubai World Cup night, saying: “The Carnival is getting more competitive every year, which makes it harder to win. On Saturday we saw winners from Japan, Hong Kong, the UAE, the UK, Ireland and of course South Africa. Trainers from all over the world bring their best horses here and one absolutely can’t compete without top-class runners in the stable. We brought our best to the party and while we didn’t win a race on the night, we prepared Variety Club on behalf of Joey Ramsden and shared his joy although his champion beat us into second. Overall our runners did well, we had two seconds, two thirds and a fifth place from eight runners.

I reckon it’s fair to say we were beaten on merit wherever we had entries. Soft Falling Rain had only one prep run coming into the Duty Free, but he wasn’t far off his best and tried hard to match strides with Variety Club, but Joey’s runner is a true star, he was just too good.

Shea Shea was beaten by a quality sprinter in the year younger and progressive Amber Sky, who doddled a Gr1 Sprint in Hong Kong in January and came into the race at the top of his game. Even if Shea Shea got himself in touch early, I don’t think we could have beaten the winner.

Star Empire was always going to have a big task in the Dubai Gold Cup, but he gave of his best for a good third place, earning Mohammed Khaleel the best part of USD100,000, having also won and earned his way handsomely at the 2011 and 2013 Carnivals.

Mohammed’s had an excellent run this season with his Argentine-bred Anaerobio, who improved nicely with maturity and acquitted himself with distinction in good company winning two races, placing third in the Gr1 Jebel Hatta and fifth in Saturday’s Gr1 Dubai Duty Free.

Vercingetorix made all of us and his South African connections mighty proud. He’s arguably the best thoroughbred to come from our country in recent years - he’s a very good horse and Just A Way, the Japanese runner that beat him, must be exceptionally talented. He sailed past Vercingetorix and if this is a reflection of his ability he will be going places this year.

Sanshaawes just missed the money in the Dubai World Cup, finishing seventh, but we think he would have made the first four with some better luck. With all the excitement around him, he was a bit fractious before the off and got both his forelegs over the stall, which didn’t help. He didn’t have a trouble-free passage either, suffered interference in the race and Christophe believes they would have made the frame if Sanshaawes was able to find his rhythm and a clear run.

Sanshaawes wasn’t disgraced in this company, he’s another horse who did us and South Africa proud at the Carnival, winning on both surfaces and securing an invite to the Cup. He had a few pressing problems after we purchased him and there was a time we were worried he wouldn’t make it to the track, let alone line up in the world’s richest race. He showed his class and courage and provided young Sheikh Ahmed with some exciting moments. We’ll be hoping to find a few more opportunities for Sanshaawes to stake his claim in Group features elsewhere.”

The sad downside of the evening was the death of the stable’s well-bred Mars, who was approaching good form and expected to make his presence felt in the Dubai Sheema Classic over 2410m. Approaching the 1900m-mark, Mars started running around and threw his head up. He veered outwards and stumbled, striking the outside running rail and dislodging jockey Richard Hughes before collapsing on the track. Hughes was taken to hospital for observation. He was found to have fractured a vertebrae, but is reportedly not suffering pain and according to his wife will not require surgery, just a period of rest.

Mike commented: “This was a terribly unfortunate incident for us and it put a dampener on our evening. Sudden deaths like this are very rare among racehorses. The veterinarian who examined Mars suspects that he suffered cardiac failure. He was bought for the stable by Mary Slack’s Wilgerbosdrift Syndicate. We share their sadness, he was coming along the right way and nobody deserves such setbacks, but things like this happen in racing sometimes and the good times will return. I’m pleased that Mary enjoyed a successful day at Turffontein.”

Mike will be discussing the way forward for runners like Soft Falling Rain, Vercingetorix, Shea Shea and Sanshaawes with their respective owners and said: “We haven’t mapped out immediate plans for our leading runners. We’ll be looking at European campaigns for them later in the year, but as always at this time we have some top races coming up in Hong Kong and Singapore where there may be suitable events to compete in.”

He concluded: “At the end of another Dubai Carnival I want to thank our patrons for their valued support. I’d also like to praise and thank my teams of assistants and grooms in Dubai and South Africa for their hard work which often happens under pressure. Our achievements don’t just come about from nothing. This is a massive operation which requires dedication around the clock. The racing public is not always aware how many things go on behind the scenes in a big stable like ours and what it takes to get a racehorse to the track in fit and sound condition. All I can say again is very well done to my staff!”

Mike will be flying to Australia to attend a sale later this week before returning to South Africa. He said: “The Durban season is around corner and I’m looking forward to working with our string of two-year-olds. I think we have a really special bunch. We’ve already seen the likes of Banadeer and Majmu and there are several other promising ones waiting in the wings. Most of our older runners that didn’t go to Dubai last year are in their places and we will be focusing on the younger ones coming through the ranks.”

Extract from Mike de Kock Racing




thoroughbred industry powerbrokers
thoroughbred industry powerbrokers

Open letter to the editor of the European Bloodstock News by Simon Burgess, Australia

As published 1 April 2014 EBN

I’m very lucky to be working in the Racing Media and being able to attend the best race meetings around the world: Hong Kong International day, Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, Royal Ascot, Breeders’ Cup and Dubai World Cup to name but a few. Some of these are tagged as, “The best thoroughbred racing in the world” and “The greatest show on turf” The best of the best or is it?

Last weekend I was in Dubai for Dubai World Cup week. A brilliant event and a must for any racing lovers bucket list. We had the best Irish horses there from the Aidan O’Brien stable, the powerful Godolphin team, and many of the world’s leading trainers from all over the world brought their best horses including Europe, United Kingdom, Japan, Hong Kong and South Africa… or at least the ones that Mike de Kock put through the grueling process to get there.

After another painstaking journey to get to Dubai through four countries and over nearly six months from door to door, De Kock’s string was still good enough to give him 13 winners at the carnival, and make him runner-up in the trainer’s premiership behind Saeed Bin Suroor.

The fact De Kock had seven runners on certainly the richest and, arguably, the biggest night’s racing on the planet, is testament to the master trainer’s determination and undeniable skills as a horseman.

Despite drawing the outside gate, Variety Club, the dual South African Horse of the Year, formerly trained by Joey Ramsden, was brilliant in winning the Group 2 $1 million Godolphin Mile with last year’s winner and fellow South African, Soft Falling Rain a close second.

Considering the current Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, Saturday night’s result may not be a huge surprise, as Variety Club sits at equal 8th along with the likes of Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente and Hong Kong Vase winner Dominant.

What may come as a surprise to some is that apart from Variety Club rated 118, South Africa is also represented by Vercingetorix 117 (equal 15th) and Shea Shea 116 (equal 20th) in the top twenty rankings.

Quite an amazing achievement for a country where, apart from Dubai and a cameo appearance at Royal Ascot by Shea Shea last year, rarely gets to run on the world stage. All this despite numerous international nominations only to be politely declined because of seemingly unfair and antiquated quarantine protocols!

So why are we, the racing public, being denied the opportunity to see the best horses from South Africa running on the world stage, and is enough being done to remedy the situation?

Well, the short answer to that is, African Horse Sickness, or is it something more sinister than that?

I’m not going to go into the scientific side of African Horse Sickness, except to say that it is endemic and vaccinated against. What I will say, however, is that South Africa is not isolated when it comes to diseases that effect horses. Most thoroughbred racing countries have dealt with and in some cases are still dealing with serious diseases, from Equine Influenza to Foot and Mouth and the Hendra Virus, some with no vaccine available.

As it currently stands, to export a horse from South Africa requires around 30 days quarantine in Cape Town, 90 in Mauritius and then a further 60 in the United Kingdom before basically being able to then travel to further destinations with the relevant countries local quarantine to be served on arrival. Potentially that’s at least six months, and then there is no guarantee that the rigours of such travel haven’t decimated the horse.

By comparison, if a horse was to be exported from Australia to South Africa, for example, they undertake 30 days in Australia and undergo various tests and then a further 30 days on arrival where they are again subjected to testing.

So why, then, in this day and age of modern technology and science is the export of horses from South Africa proving such a difficult hurdle especially when there is a vaccination, it is non contagious, horses spend a 30 day quarantine period in Cape Town and, according to veterinary sources, the incubation period is 7-14 days?

With the disease predominantly prevalent in the warmer months, why then could exports not be limited to the autumn and winter months, with even a 60 day quarantine in Cape town commencing at the end of summer and straddling the cooler months when African horse sickness seems to be non existent? With vaccinations in place and such a time frame allowing any symptoms to come to the surface wouldn’t this be a viable option?

Apart from the obvious pleasures to the racing purists and promoters of seeing the best South African horses on the world stage, imagine the benefit to breeders globally and, even more importantly, the economic impact for the industry in South Africa, with open borders to shuttle stallions and more easily facilitate the sales of race horses, yearlings and mares to overseas markets.

With the South African rand in steady decline and the uncertainty in the mining industry potentially leading to job cuts and a rise in unemployment, surely it’s in the best interest of the South African government to resolve quickly this situation and reap the economic rewards of what would be a very viable industry.

I’ve long harbored the opinion that South African-bred horses and racing is the best kept secret in the world and the recent exploits of pioneers like Mike de Kock go a long way to vindicating that theory.

We now as a combined industry, along with the local government, need to work together to rectify this situation in the interests of not only South African breeding and racing, but for the betterment of racing globally and creating a truly global stage to see the finest equine athletes compete on a level playing field.

Simon Burgess

Thorough Media

Melbourne, Australia





Meydan, All-Weather, 1600m

29 March 2014

South Africa’s two time horse of the year, Variety Club overcame a difficult post position in gate 15 of 16 to run out the winner of the Group 2 US$1 million Godolphin Mile sponsored by Meydan Sobha for trainer Joey Ramsden and his jockey Anton Marcus. In doing so he had a length to spare over fellow South African and defending champion Soft Falling Rain, who made a brave bid to become the first horse since Godolphin’s Firebreak to win back to back runnings of the Godolphin Mile in 2003 and 2004.

Anton Marcus took the bull by the horns as the gates opened and sent Variety Club to the head of affairs, from where the horse was able to settle into a lovely rhythm and reel off easy fractions. Set alight by Marcus at the head of the stretch, Variety Club was always in control and had enough in the tank to gallop resolutely to the wire to hold Soft Falling Rain’s gallant effort by a length in 1:37.28. Soft Falling Rain just held off the late closing effort of the French filly Flotilla by a nose.

Trainer Joey Ramsden said: “To come here to compete means a lot, but to win is something special. Anton gave him a fantastic ride, and he got into a soft lead, and this gives me so much pleasure and all of South Africa. It may take a while to sink in.”

Jockey Paul Hanagan was full of praise for Soft Falling Rain’s efforts. “He has run a great race, and it’s no disgrace to be beaten by the winner. He was beaten by a very good horse and the race went exactly as I would have liked it to.”

Mikel Delzangles said of his third place finisher, the French 1000 Guineas winner Flotilla, “She has run very well, but it was a shame that they slowed down the pace and that she had to come on the outside, it’s difficult to do on this track. I don’t know if she stays in training or goes to stud.”

The disappointment of the race was Shuruq who was bidding to give Godolphin’s trainer Saeed bin Suroor a record 11th win in this race, and who was never seen with a chance, finishing in 8th spot.

“She wasn’t really traveling that well. That’s the fourth race she’s had over here (this season),” said rider Silvestre De Sousa. “She’s a bit front. I couldn’t make any ground.”

Extract from Dubai Racing Club





Meydan, All-Weather, 2000m

29 March 2014

African Story (GB) (Pivotal - Blixen) proved the catalyst for the Meydan grandstand to erupt on Saturday evening as Saeed bin Suroor’s Godolphin runner streaked away with the 19th running of the US$10 million Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates.

The trainer was winning the world’s richest race for a sixth time and provided HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, with a seventh triumph.

Bin Suroor had failed to lift the trophy since Electrocutionist scored at Nad Al Sheba in 2006 and African Story was the long-standing handler’s first win in the race at the imposing Meydan Racecourse.

Silvestre de Sousa was never worse than second aboard the 7 year old who pulled 2 1/2-lengths clear down the stretch to see off the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned Mukhadram who valiantly tried to make all under Paul Hanagan.

The ruling Maktoum family enjoyed a terrific podium finish with Godolphin’s Charlie Appleby-trained Cat O’Mountain overcoming his outside stall disadvantage to finish third.

“This is our sixth win in the race and it has been a long time in coming,” said bin Suroor. “There has been a lot of pressure from a lot of people, but I thought two years ago this was the right horse for this race. In my heart I thought this horse could win - he is something really special and I told Sheikh Mohammed this two years ago. This is a big thrill and I dedicate this win to my mother and I will give her my golden whip.”

De Sousa had failed to frame on his two previous Dubai World Cup rides but struck lucky at the third attempt, and said: “It turned into a perfect race for me as I only had one horse in front of me. I knew I had to get past him quick and it was a big relief when I went clear. African Story has good track form having won the Godolphin Mile two years ago. He travelled well and quickened great and I am over the moon. There is pressure, but at the same time I think I have shown that I have given my best and that there may still be more to come.”

British raider Mukhadram tracked across from stall 15 under Paul Hanagan and appeared as though he had stolen a march on the field turning for home, only to be run down by African Story.

Hanagan commented: “I am very proud of him and it was a tremendous effort from William Haggas to have him ready to run after such a long layoff. We went forward and I got a breather in to him down the back straight. We kicked at the top of the home run and for a moment I thought I had nicked it but in the end we were beaten by a very good horse on the night.”

Similarly pleased was Mikael Barzalona who rode Cat O’Mountain, and commented: “He ran a blinder from where he was drawn and could have been closer but for that.”

The Hong Kong and Japanese raiders all failed to get involved while Derby winner, Ruler Of The World weakened back to 13th of the 16 runners with connections reporting he failed to handle the all-weather track.

Extract from Dubai Racing Club




soft falling rain
soft falling rain

Soft Falling Rain / Dubai Racing Club//Andrew Watkins (p)


Meydan, All-Weather, 1600m

29 March 2014

When winning the $1million Godolphin Mile sponsored by Meydan Sobha, 12 months ago the Mike de Kock-trained Soft Falling Rain (SAF) became the first three-year-old to win the Group 2 1600m all-weather contest.

This year, the HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum-owned runner, who also won last year’s UAE 2000 Guineas, attempts to become the third horse to record consecutive victories in this race.

He has had one run so far this season, over an inadequate 1200m on Super Saturday and will appreciate the return to 1600m. He is also well drawn this year, which he certainly was not 12 months ago.

De Kock said: “He was badly in need of his sprint outing on Super Saturday and as I have said all along, bearing in mind he will be busy in Europe after this, Super Saturday and Dubai World Cup night were his two planned outings. We have a good draw this year, unlike 12 months ago, and he should be competitive.”

The maximum field of 16 have been declared, including Godolphin’s Shuruq (USA), winner of last year’s UAE Oaks and twice a course and distance winner this season.

Winner of the 1600m Group 2 first round of the Al Maktoum Challenge on the opening night of the 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival, she also won the Group 3 Burj Nahaar on Super Saturday.

Her trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, is seeking a 12th victory in the race and he said: “She won last year’s UAE Oaks and has two course and distance victories to her name this season. She just loves this all-weather surface and is a far better filly on it than turf.

“It is another tough race but she is tough and remains in great form.”

Soft Falling Rain is not the only South African-trained runner in the field and is joined by dual South African Horse Of The Year, Variety Club (SAF). A course and distance winner on his local debut, he found Shuruq too strong on Super Saturday and, if to gain revenge, he has to overcome stall 15.

Trained near Abu Dhabi by Ernst Oertel, Capital Attraction (USA) was third in that Super Saturday contest and should be competitive if able to get across from his draw in 12.

Oertel said: “We would have preferred a lower draw but he is in good form and tough so, with a bit of luck, should have a chance in a competitive race.”

Flotilla (FR), winner of the Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf in 2012 and last year’s French 1000 Guineas, disappointed on her local debut in the Cape Verdi but was a good second in the Balanchine on her one subsequent outing. If adapting to this new surface, she should go well for Mikel Delzangles.

Utopia won this for Japan in 2006 but their representative this year, Brightline (JPN), is another with a wide draw.

Forjatt (IRE), winner of the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile for Dhruba Selvaratnam, was fourth to Shuruq on Super Saturday, while Gabrial (Ire), Eastern Rules (Ire), Elleval (Ire) and Gold City (Ire) all managed to win at the 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival.

Fifth in this in 2012, the Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained Haatheq (USA) chased home Soft Falling Rain last year when looking set to score with 200m to run. He too is owned by Sheikh Hamdan.

Extract from Dubai Racing Club




shea shea
shea shea

Shea Shea / Dubai Racing Club//Andrew Watkins (p)


Meydan, Turf, 1000m

29 March 2014

Spectators at the richest day of racing will be treated to a fascinating renewal of the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint empowered by IPIC, on Saturday with last year’s winner Shea Shea (SAF) back to defend his crown against new kid in town, the Hong Kong speedball, Amber Sky (AUS).

Shea Shea is the form horse at Meydan, holding the track record set last year and winning the Super Saturday 2014 Meydan Sprint on his seasonal debut.

Trainer, Mike de Kock’s hopes were bolstered when his charge was drawn 12 of 12 on Wednesday and, therefore, gets to race along his beloved standside rail. His jockey, Christophe Soumillon was understandably delighted with the news.

“I soon learned that he likes a bit of cover and a rail to race against so that is the ideal draw,” he said.

Hong Kong speedster Amber Sky (Aus), trained by Ricky Yiu, could not have been more impressive when winning a 1000m Sha Tin dash in January and looks a massive danger to De Kock’s charge.

He and work rider Raymond Tam were out in the heavy rain early on Wednesday morning. Tam joked: “The weather did not faze him and he was a lot happier than I was out there.”

Compatriot and ten-year-old veteran, Joy And Fun (NZ), actually won this race for trainer Derek Cruz the first year it was contested on Dubai World Cup night, when it was run over 1200m in 2010. He was then third in 2012 and second last year after the switch to 1000m.

Ahtoug (GB) was Charlie Appleby’s first 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival runner when landing a 1000m turf handicap back at the first meeting in early January. He has since been unable to find winning ways, coming up against Shea Shea but his trainer is pleased with his charge.

Appleby said: “We were obviously delighted with that first win but nothing went right on his second start when he was drawn on the wrong side. He bounced back with a very good second behind Medicean Man but excelled on Super Saturday, finding only Shea Shea too good over Saturday’s course and distance. Hopefully he has another big run in him.”

Dual Group 1 winner, Sole Power (GB), representing Ireland was fourth to Shea Shea 12 months ago having been just in front of Joy And Fun when second in 2012. He and Shea Shea have clashed regularly and the Eddie Lynam-trained sprinter did beat his old rival at Royal Ascot last year, just denying him in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes, also over 1000m.

The Doug Watson-trained Dux Scholar (GB) and Jeremy Gask’s Medicean Man (GB) are both course and distance winners with Gask’s stable star actually winning at the Dubai World Cup Carnival both this year and in 2013. Both are capable of big runs.

Representing France, the Philippe Sogorb-trained Catcall (FR) merits plenty of respect after his career-best second in last year’s Prix de L’Abbaye at Longchamp. He has been beaten by both Shea Shea and Medicean Man this year at Meydan Racecourse but it would be premature to write him off.

Extract from Dubai Racing Club





Vercingetorix / Dubai Racing Club//Andrew Watkins (p)


Meydan, All-Weather, 1800m

29 March 2014

As always, the $5million Group 1 Dubai Duty Free, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free, is one of the strongest races on the Dubai World Cup card and 13 are set to face the starter in the 1800m turf feature.

Super Saturday’s Group 1 Jebel Hatta, over the same course and distance, was won by Vercingetorix (SAF), trained by South African, Mike de Kock who has won the race three times - including with Right Approach who famously dead-heated in the 2004 renewal.

Unbeaten after six career starts, De Kock’s charge has looked a potential superstar but his trainer urges a note of caution. He said: “We basically do not know how good he is or how much more he can improve. He is a lazy horse at home and, on the track, he wins his races with the minimum effort. Basically, Saturday is his toughest task to date and should answer a few questions. A lower draw would have been preferable but we are really looking forward to running him against the likes of The Fugue.”

Stable companion, Anaerobio (ARG), third in the Jebel Hatta three weeks ago, appears to have a fair bit to find.

The UK are well represented and The Fugue (GB), originally thought to be a Dubai World Cup candidate but switched to this contest last weekend, looks guaranteed to run a big race.

Trained by John Gosden for Andrew Lloyd-Webber, she is the mount of William Buick and therefore represents the same connections as Dar Re Mi, winner of the 2010 Dubai Sheema Classic.

Gosden said: “She had two easy days when she arrived and did a piece of steady work Thursday as she will Friday. I’m very happy with her. It was always the plan to keep her in training at five so hopefully she can vindicate that decision.”

The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Dank (GB), a dual Group 1 winner in America last year, has also reportedly settled in well and David Simcock, trainer of a third English challenger, Trade Storm (GB) is also happy with his charge.

He said: “He did his last serious work on Wednesday and went nicely. The turf has taken the rain very well and they were flicking the top off, but it was a sound, firm footing underneath.”

Tasaday (USA) and Hunter’s Light (IRE) both represent Godolphin and Saeed bin Suroor. Favourite when disappointing in last year’s Dubai World Cup, Hunter’s Light is a Group 1 winner on both turf and all-weather.

His trainer said: “The 1800m is going to really suit him and we know he has improved a lot from his one previous run this season. He did a really pleasing piece of work on Sunday and I am very happy with him.”

Tasaday won her second 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival outing, the 2000m Dubai Millennium Stakes and her trainer said: “She showed a touch of class that day and will be fine over 1900m but it does look a strong renewal.”

Japan is particularly well represented with three runners, of whom Just A Way (JPN), looks the leading light. He beat subsequent Japan Cup heroine and Dubai Sheema Classic hopeful, Gentildonna in last year’s Group 1 Tenno Sho and won his prep race nicely earlier this month.

His trainer, Naosuke Sugai said: “He had a nice, strong gallop on Wednesday and we were very pleased with him. We are very happy with our draw in two. All being well, he will run a very good race on Saturday as everything has gone to plan so far.”

Compatriot, Logotype (JPN), also galloped on Wednesday, pleasing his trainer, Tsuyoshi Tanaka who said: “He did a lot of strong work before we left Japan and arrived in Dubai so we have not been too hard on him here. He has done everything asked of him comfortably and has enjoyed a good preparation.”

Tokei Halo (JPN) also represents his homeland, giving them a strong looking hand.

Hong Kong’s Blazing Speed (GB), trained by Tony Cruz, has been pleasing his trainer and did his last fast piece of work on the all-weather surface on Wednesday.

Cruz said: “We are very pleased with him and things have gone smoothly. Wednesday’s gallop was his last serious one and he is fit and ready to race so it will just be light exercise between now and the race.”

Mshawish (USA), from France, is another to have won at the 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival. Trained by Mikel Delzangles, he will be ridden by Frankie Dettori and looks well berthed in stall one.

Extract from Dubai Racing Club





Sanshaawes / Dubai Racing Club//Andrew Watkins (p)


Meydan, All-Weather, 2000m

29 March 2014

The most successful international trainer on Dubai World Cup night, with a remarkable nine winners to his name, South African Mike de Kock is set to saddle eight runners on Saturday, headed by Sanshaawes in the world’s richest horse race, the $10million Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates.

Already a dual Dubai World Cup Carnival winner this year, De Kock’s big-race hope arguably produced a career best performance when second in the Group 1 concluding round of the Al Maktoum Challenge, over the same 2000m all-weather course and distance as the Dubai World Cup.

If the five-year-old gelding is successful, he will become the globe-trotting trainer’s first win in the Dubai World Cup.

“That was a great effort from a bad draw on Super Saturday,” said De Kock. “We knew when he arrived in Dubai he had a win or two in him but he has excelled our expectations. He is in great form at home but, realistically, we would be delighted with a placed effort. Hopefully, we get a good draw this time, because we certainly didn’t last time on Super Saturday.”

The trainer is set to be double handed in the Group 1 $5m Dubai Duty Free, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free. He won the Super Saturday trial, the Group 1 Jebel Hatta over the same 1800m turf trip, with Vercingetorix, who surged past re-opposing stable companion, Anaerobio, about 200m from home.

De Kock said: “I think Anaerobio produced a career best on Super Saturday and thankfully he was received an invitation, deservedly, to run here. As for Vercingetorix, we basically do not know how good he is; he is lazy at home and just does enough on the racecourse. He remains unbeaten and always looks like he will win easily, but then almost stops and waits for a challenge. Saturday will be his biggest test against the likes of The Fugue and he will need to produce a career best.”

Not surprisingly, the South African nominated 2013 Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint (1000m turf) winner Shea Shea as his best hope on the card, bidding to repeat his track-record-breaking effort of 12 months ago.

As was the case last year, De Kock’s crack sprinter takes his place in the starting line-up having won Super Saturday’s Meydan Sprint under regular jockey, Christophe Soumillon and the trainer said: “He is probably our best chance on the card and arrives here at least as fit and well as last year. There are some real speedsters in the mix which, hopefully, will suit him.”

Last year’s Godolphin Mile winner, Soft Falling Rain, is another De Kock returnee and he had a pipe-opener in the 1200m Mahab Al Shimaal on Super Saturday.

“He has really improved a lot from that return to action,” said De Kock. “Ideally I would have probably liked one more run but we plan to keep him busy in Europe this summer so we have to strike a balance.”

Of his other runners, Dubai Sheema Classic contender Mars, received a positive bulletin.

“He has come on a lot from his latest run when the blinkers perhaps did no suit. We thought he ran well though and, hopefully, he will at least be competitive,” said the trainer.

Extract from Dubai Racing Club





29 March 2014

On Saturday evening, the Dubai Racing Club will distribute something approaching R300 million in prize money at the world’s richest race meeting. The “World Cup”, as the occasion has come to be known, grew out of the sands of a barren, unforgiving desert, and in South African terms, has served to showcase the virtues of our racehorses. The World Cup and its associated Carnival, has been especially kind to Summerhill: in terms of “cheques”, we have a perfect three-for-three. Imbongi was the Carnival’s victor ludorum as its biggest money earner in 2010. Mullins Bay fulfilled a childhood dream for us, taking on the biggest owners in the world at the world’s biggest race meeting and cashing up in the Godolphin Mile (Gr.2): Paris Perfect picked up $1million (almost R11 million in today’s money) for his third place in the night’s biggest event, the $10million Dubai World Cup (Gr.1); while Imbongi completed the trifecta in the $5million Dubai Duty Free (Gr.1). Most of the country’s luminaries were trained by the man who has single-handedly propelled the nation to international prominence as a source of top class thoroughbreds, Mike de Kock.

Along the way, De Kock’s charges have taken home as many as three (50%) of the programme’s events, while it’s not uncommon for him to harness at least two (33%) of what’s been on offer. By any standards, this is an extraordinary record, yet, to get our heads around it, we should recall the names of the evening’s heroes going back to 2003: Ipi Tombe, Victory Moon, Lundy’s Liability, Right Approach, Asiatic Boy, Honour Devil, Grand Emporium, Sun Classique, Mahbooba, J.J. The Jet Plane, Masterofhounds,Musir, Soft Falling Rain and Shea Shea - some class!

Heather Morkel, Linda Norval, Greig Muir and Annet Becker, familiar to readers as members of our management team, have all made the pilgrimage, and they can attest to the extraordinary events of the day. The scale of things in Dubai, the opulence, the indulgence, is very apparent wherever you look; some call it “vulgar”; most are mesmerized. Apart from a few Bedouin lodgings, before the discovery of oil in 1966, there was hardly a thing in the way of structural heritage to speak of, yet today, Dubai is a symbol of bottomless pockets and spectacular extravagance, with hardly a sign of its well-publicized financial woes of five years ago.

For those who’ve not been there, and might be wondering what it is like to attend, we’re lucky to have in Dubai, (courtesy of the TDN,) the well-known correspondent, Lucas Marquardt, to refresh us on Dubai’s geography and history.

“If you picture the Arabian peninsula as a snowboot (seriously, look at a map), Dubai sits on a small horn that emerges from the toe, along the western banks of the Persian Gulf. Qatar is due west; Iran is a short distance across the Gulf. Though it was first mentioned in geographical literature almost a thousand years ago, Dubai wasn’t formally established until 1833, when Sheikh Maktoum bin Butti Al Maktoum, a member of the regional Bani Yas tribe, and 800 of his followers settled on Dubai Creek, a saltwater inlet that curves into the desert for roughly nine miles behind what is today the city of Dubai. Its location made Dubai for a logical port of call for traders, and in the early 20th century it was known for its pearl exports. Just forty-seven years ago, oil was discovered here, and while the reserves weren’t of the scale of the neighbouring Abu Dhabi, they provided a huge influx of capital that has changed the face of the place. In 1971, Dubai joined with Abu Dhabi and five other emirates to form the United Arab Emirates.

Today, Dubai is home to 2.1 million people, though only 17% of those are Emiratis. Indians actually comprise a slight majority (53%), with Pakistanis (13.3%) the only other group in double digits.

The Maktoums are still the ruling family, with Sheikh Mohammed succeeding the late Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Gainsborough Farm) in 2006. Despite a setback from the 2008 financial crisis, Dubai has largely become what Sheikh Mohammed and his father, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, dreamed it would: a world-class metropolis that, unlike many of its neighbors in the region, isn’t dependent on oil. In 2011, oil made up just 7% of Dubai’s revenue. (Real estate and construction, by contrast, made up 22.6%.)

Okay, back to the trip at hand. There are five or six major neighborhoods in Dubai (depending on your definition), and I’ve bedded down in Deira for a few days of my trip. Deira, to the north of Dubai Creek, is one of the original neighborhoods of Dubai and its one-time commercial center, but these days I’d liken it to staying in Astoria, Queens if you were to visit NYC.

Plenty to offer, but not necessarily what you think when you think “Dubai”. The buildings are a bit older, some a drab yellow or beige, and rarely do they get above seven or eight stories. On Monday morning, I saw virtually no tourists, and probably 90% of the people on the street were men. The tip of Deira, at the mouth of Dubai Creek, is Al Ras, home to a vast array of souqs (markets) that sell gold, spices and perfumes. One estimate I read put the amount of gold on offer at the Dubai Gold Souk at any given time at 10 tons. Regardless, I decided to forgo the souks and instead caught an abra, or water taxi, across the Creek. The cost was a modest, 4 dirhams, or about a dollar. Abras are a terrific way to travel in Dubai, when possible. The low-slung wooden boats - just step on and go, take about 10 minutes to cross over to Bur Dubai.

 Another neighborhood with a lot of local history. By 8 a.m. the sun had already burned through the morning cool, and so I started along the shaded narrow alleyways of Bur Dubai, looking to get some authentic local street meat (is that just an NYC term?) to start the day. I found a tiny ‘cafeteria’ that held maybe four or five people and told the proprietor, who spoke little English, to give me whatever he wanted, so long as it didn’t contain fish. Five minutes later, he handed over a hamburger. Well played, sir. From there I wandered around Bur Dubai, then doubled back to the Creek, where ferries run to the Dubai Marina. The ride, which takes you out into the Gulf and runs a good 70 minutes, provides a good lay of the land. As you travel southwest. Down the coast, the massive skyscrapers of downtown Dubai spring into view. Dubai has 140 Skyscrapers. Only Hong Kong (295) and New York (231) have more, and the king among Dubais is Burj Khalifa. At 2,717 feet, the Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building, and not by a little bit. It’s over 700 feet taller than the second-highest, Shanghai Tower, and with 163 floors, has 61 more floors than the Empire State Building. It resembles a series of tubes and half-tubes springing out from one another, like a clutch of straws of varying lengths. The Ferry brings you under The World, the man-made collection of islands that shaped to resemble Earth’s continents, and then Palm Jumeirah, another made-made grouping of islands, this one shaped like palm tree. Docked on the south side of the latter is Sheikh Mohammed’s private yacht Dubai, a $300 million, 524-foot vessel that is the world’s third-largest.

Back on the mainland, there is a broad expanse of residential housing to the south of downtown Dubai, and then a second group of skyscrapers rises around Dubai Marina, a man-made waterway that is flanked on all sides by an impressive collection of modern architecture that borders on futuristic. It’s safe to say that if breeders got weak at the knees when Sheikh Mohammed came to inspect their yearlings at September, architects and building contractors get downright giggly when he’s involved in one of their projects. My personal favourite was the Cayan Tower, an 80-story behemoth that twists a full 90 degrees. Walkways line both sides of the marina. This is the Dubai you imagine. Sleek glass and steel buildings, high-end shops and restaurants, and a well-heeled international crowd sipping cappuccinos in fashionable cafes. Later, back in Deira, I felt like I’d at least gotten a rough outline of what’s where, and tomorrow, after some rest, we head to the track.”




Mike de Kock
Mike de Kock

Mike de Kock / TB News (p)

Phineas Fogg would have been around the world and halfway back in less time than it took for trainer Mike de Kock to get a significant number of the 40-strong team he has assembled to Dubai for this year’s Carnival.”

The ongoing success of Mike de Kock has been one of the features of the Dubai World Cup Carnival over the past decade, yet few would suspect the enormous lengths the South African trainer has to go to just to get his runners to the UAE.

It’s a situation brought about by harsh quarantine regulations, which are having a serious impact on trading prospects between South Africa and the rest of the world. De Kock talked to HOWARD WRIGHT about it.

Phineas Fogg would have been around the world and halfway back in less time than it took for trainer Mike de Kock to get a significant number of the 40-strong team he has assembled to Dubai for this year’s Carnival.

Stringent regulations over the deadly disease African Horse Sickness, imposed by international governmental bodies, have isolated South Africa from easy movement of Thoroughbreds and forced De Kock into a modern-day equivalent of Jules Verne’s hero.

De Kock explains the route negotiated by 17 of the 40 horses he has in Dubai, where despite the huge inconveniences and travel costs of around $40,000 per horse, his record since he opened his Group 1 account with Ipi Tombe in the 2003 G1 Duty Free Dubai Stakes is second only to Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation. (He had trained 116 Carnival winners since then before this season began.)

“The horses go into quarantine towards the end of July and we do 21 days in Cape Town in what is known as a ‘free area’,” de Kock said. We then fly five hours to Mauritius and do another 90 days there, 50 of which are residency and the last 40 of which are under strict conditions where the horses are locked up in a barn two hours before sunset and come out two hours after sunrise. Then you can ship directly to the EU, where you have to do a 30-day residency if you want to come to Dubai, but it’s 60 days if you want to go to most other places. That’s the bizarre thing: England and the EU take you directly, because you’ve done your quarantine in Mauritius, yet none of Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore, or Australia will take you directly, even after the 90 days in Mauritius, where there’s no African Horse Sickness at all. Mauritius has been a natural trading partner with South Africa for donkeys’ years, and their racing is based on South African horses, who do a 21 day quarantine in South Africa and a further 18 days in Mauritius, after which they’re introduced to the local herd. The only other place where you can go direct is America, but you spend 60 days locked up in a hangar, where the horses don’t see the light of day. I’ve done that route but the horses can come out fried. The incubation period for African Horse Sickness (AHS) is generally 14 days, 21 days maximum. So if your horse is still alive after 21 days, it ain’t got horse sickness. Yet the Americans lock them up for 60 days. Even 90 days in Mauritius is over the top.”

De Kock admits that the argument is not one-sided.

“I absolutely see the other countries’ point of view and understand their resistance,” he conceded. “A lot of our problems have been down to the fact we haven’t educated them properly about the risks. I know it’s a big bad disease, but it’s not contagious, and therefore very much easier to contain than others. We can also blame ourselves, in that our veterinary house is not in order and there are testing issues, but the South African government is beginning to see the light and being pro-active through the testing procedure. What’s not so understandable is that a lot of the other countries seem unwilling to find a solution. There’s no way we would export the disease. That would be suicide for South African racing.”

De Kock proposes his ideal scenario: A 21-day lockdown at a South African airport in a vector-proof facility, so horses cannot leave the barn, but are able to use a swimming pool, treadmill, or a small walking track in a hangar. Upon conclusion of the lockdown period, horses would be PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tested. If the test is negative, the horses are then free to travel anywhere.

“I’m not a scientist, but this seems to make more sense than the current situation out of Cape Town, which has been suspended because of an AHS outbreak in 2011, whereby we did 40 days in quarantine where the horses were locked up, as in Mauritius, two hours before sunset and released two hours after sunrise,” he explained. “Before then, we were shipping straight into the EU from South Africa, but all the other trading partners - Australia, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore for instance - still required us to go to Europe before we went there, regardless of any outbreak and despite the fact we had shipped direct to those countries many times without a problem.”

The recent success of South African horses on the world stage and the passion, professionalism, and potential buying power of its leading owners and breeders has made finding a solution to AHS regulations the No. 1 topic, De Kock said.

“There are many people who are serious about making it happen and are prepared to put in as much money as it would take. No one’s going to get scared of the cost, because we can’t afford not to trade. South Africa has a 200 million rand ($18 million) export market at the moment, which is a pittance really. It would be a massive boost if we could trade properly, sell a horse today, and have it on the buyer’s doorstep in 42 days’ time. I reckon conservatively we’d go over a billion rand very shortly, and it would promote massive investment and job creation in a country that really needs it. Trade should be a two-way journey.”

Despite all the travel difficulties, De Kock adheres strictly to the theory of “no pain, no gain.”

He has won Group races on four continents, and after Vercingetorix took the recent Jebel Hatta in Dubai, he has trained the winner of at least one G1 race outside South Africa in eight of the last 12 years.

“I get a thrill out of training good horses,” he said. “It’s like a golfer wanting to play the majors. My ambition is to be competitive at all the best meetings, and if I have the right horse for a big race anywhere in the world, I want to be able to go there and compete.”

Extract from Mike de Kock Racing




mike de kock
mike de kock

Mike de Kock / Aladiyat-BigHD (p)


29 March 2014

Mike de Kock has accepted seven invitations to as many races for his runners on Dubai World Cup night, including an invite for Sanshaawes to the world’s richest race, the $US10-million Dubai World Cup.

Sanshaawes finished second in last week’s Gr1 Al Maktoum Challenge (Round 3) over the Dubai World Cup course and distance, 2000m on the all-weather, and will take on some of the world’s best for the big cash.

The other accepted invitations are:

Jalotta (UAE Derby)

Shea Shea (Al Quoz Sprint)

Soft Falling Rain (Godolphin Mile)

Vercingetorix (Dubai Duty Free)

Mars (Sheema Classic)

Star Empire (Gold Cup)

Mike said: “We’ll have good representation for South Africa across the board and we’re looking forward to the occasion. Congratulations to the various owners who will have runners.”

Joey Ramsden-trained Variety Club has also been invited to the Godolphin Mile.

Extract from Mike de Kock Racing