The top international trainer in the UAE over recent years, Mike De Kock, makes his return to Nad Al Sheba tomorrow for the sixth Winter Racing Challenge meeting, sponsored by Al Nasr Leisureland.

De Kock saddles two runners, the latter being Kayak, who lines up for the concluding 1600m conditions race which has attracted a field of 12. With good dirt form in his native South Africa, De Kock is hoping for a bold show, saying: “He will benefit for the run but is fit enough to do himself justice. I am hoping he is capable of improving on his rating on the dirt to get into the Carnival. Obviously it is a competitive race but I have to be hopeful of a big run.”

One danger could be Erwan Charpy’s Where With All, who won two of his three juvenile starts for Godolphin but has been off the track since July 2004.  However, the trainer has a good record with similar types and has his string in fine fettle, with 10 winners so far this season.  He explained: “He has obviously had problems and has a long break to overcome. It looks a tricky race but he is working well and is ready for a run. I would say I was hopeful rather than confident but he seems a nice horse.”

De Kock’s first runner of the campaign is Ablaan in the 1400m maiden and this juvenile son of Sunday Break could be very hard to beat. The trainer explained: “He is in good form and should certainly handle the dirt. I would be very confident if the race was over further but he certainly appears to have a big chance.”

Racing opens with a 1600m conditions race for Purebred Arabians in which Watson’s highly-touted Paris Gagner makes his UAE debut and Martin Dwyer will be hoping for a win on his first mount of the season. In the Al Nasr Leisureland Challenge, Daybreak Dancer bids for a hat-trick following his two wins last month, which puts him at the top of the Winter Racing Challenge (Sprint) leaderboard with 68 points.

Dubai Racing Club CEO Mr Frank Gabriel Jr said: “Al Nasr Leisureland have long been associated with the Dubai Racing Club, and we are delighted that our valued partnership continues with Thursday’s meeting. With only three meetings to go now to qualify for Winter Racing Challenge Finals day, a number of horses will be looking to impress and guarantee a top-six place for the three categories which will earn them a spot for Finals day on January 3.”

Extract from Gold Circle 12.12.07

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