We’re very much into the countdown phase in the run-up to the World’s richest race meeting now, and the finishing touches to most preparations were concluded this morning. Team Summerhill were on hand at The Maestro’s yard just after six, where Mullins Bay was asked to do some brisk work on the treadmill.
There are only two seriously good trainers in the world that use a treadmill with such earnest respect, one David Hayes, the other Mike de Kock. The one sits at the top of the Australian log in his profession, the other is a local (and I’m sure he won’t mind me saying so, international legend). Most readers are aware our man, “MULLINS”, has had anything but the perfect preparation, as a result of which he’s been clocking up kilometres by the dozen in the pool.
The sand track in Dubai has been hard core about 4 inches below the surface, and big horses like him are not irregularly hurt by going through it.
Now this fellow is as fluent a mover as you’ll find, and even in his quickest strides, he pretty much leaves the impression he’s floating, but such is the size of him, Mike daren’t risk him on the beach. So back to the treadmill where he was asked to go the equivalent or 1200 metres at full tilt on a 6 degree gradient. His heart rate peaked at 230 beats a minute, but within a minute of his stopping to a walk it was down to 95. Mike’s been saying all along, he’s such a natural athlete and has such a natural base of fitness on him, so the only thing he’s lacking is some “match” practice, on the track proper.
Nonetheless, the bookmakers are taking no chances, and he’s the joint second choice alongside Godolphin’s multiple Group One winner, Court Masterpiece, and Ireland’s Group One performer, Killybegs. The American Dixiemeister tops the boards as a rather weak favourite, so it seems it’s anybody’s race.
And our co-owner and serious student of form, Barry Clements, sees it that way, too. He’s analysed the form inside out, and while he may be biased, he seems to think only our wide draw can be seen as a handicap, assuming he’s fit enough.
Certainly, his trainer thinks he’s top class. In a TV interview this morning, he spoke of him as one of the better horses he’s known (and that’s saying something) and repeated this assertion that if it weren’t for the interruptions, he’d have been a live contender for the World Cup itself. And we all know who’s in there!