De Kock’s Dubai World Cup hopes hinge on Mubtaahij

Peter Ward 23:54 22/03/2016
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Mubtaahij.

The South African has few peers when it comes to international competition and his 12 previous winners on Dubai World Cup night stands second only to Godolphin stalwart Saeed bin Suroor. However, he is yet to score in the main race of the night.

Last year, Mubtaahij (IRE) looked to hold serious UAE Derby claims. That proved to be the case as he scored easily before embarking on an ambitious American adventure and was far from disgraced behind American Pharoah in both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.

“It was a brilliant experience and Mubtaahij performed well,” reflected De Kock.

“He ran in three UAE Triple Crown races and then two in America. That must be unique to contest five Triple Crown races.”

It is the same horse who will bid to finally land the Dubai World Cup, presented by Emirates, for a trainer who has saddled both Asiatic Boy and Victory Moon to finish second in the world’s richest race.

Interestingly, both horses were four-year-olds and winner of the previous year’s UAE Derby so De Kock is following a tried and almost tested route.

It would be fair to say Mubtaahij has not fired in two starts this year but De Kock is less concerned than many of the horse’s fan club.

He explained: “First time, in the Firebreak Stakes, we kept telling everybody he was 80 per cent fit and tackling a 1600m trip too sharp for him.

“Super Saturday was, on the face of it, disappointing but the more you look at the race, all the dirt races on that day even, there seemed a definite bias towards those on the pace.

“He is spot on for Saturday and we expect him to run a big race.”

The Dubai Turf has twice been won by De Kock with Ipi Tombe in 2003 and Right Approach, who dead-heated in 2004.

He saddles two in this year’s race, Ertijaal (AUS) and Forries Waltz (SAF), but clearly fears Godolphin’s Tryster (IRE).

“My two are in good form and should run well but, in all honesty, I think we are running for second prize money as Tryster looks the real deal,” he said.

Meanwhile, Roger Varian is back in Dubai with Postponed (IRE) and Intilaaq (USA).

The Dubai Sheema Classic appears to be at his mercy with the brilliant King George and Prix Foy winner Postponed.

The five-year-old is one of 35 horses owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum switched from Luca Cumani’s stable following that Foy win last September, and he was imperious on his debut for Varian with a smooth three-length success here in the Dubai City Of Gold sponsored by Skycargo.

“He should come on for his first run for me and I am very happy with him going into the weekend,” said Varian. “He didn’t run in the Arc so coming out here seemed the logical thing to do and he has had a great preparation.

“His jockey Andrea Atzeni knows him well, he is a very straightforward and he must have a big chance.”

Also with a big chance is Intilaaq, who has been switched from the Dubai World Cup to the Dubai Turf following the withdrawal – due to injury – of last year’s winner Solow.

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