With nine Carnival winners on the board already, just one short of the yard’s best tally, the Mike De Kock Dubai team must have every chance of bettering that number this weekend which is the season’s second and final double header.
Thursday’s feature race is the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort, over a mile on turf and a race won by Mike De Kock in 2003 with Ipi Tombe and 2005 with Yard-Arm. This year Archipenko is the sole representative after Admiralofthefleet was ruled out. Kevin Shea takes the ride and De Kock said: “He has improved a lot for his run and will appreciate this step up in trip but Linngari is obviously the one to beat.”
Express Way (Johnny Murtagh) and Brave Tin Soldier (Kevin Shea) both contest a six-furlong turf handicap which looks ultra competitive. Shea’s mount is having his first start for the yard and Murtagh’s has been off for a year. Both would prefer further but Asiatic Boy and Sun Classique have already won over trips short of their best this season for the yard. However, De Kock expects both to ‘improve for the run’.
Friday’s feature is the Listed Balanchine Stakes for fillies and mares over 1777m and Sun Classique is very much the one to beat after her win in the Cape Verdi a fortnight ago. That mile trip is on the short side and this Group 1 winner will relish the extra trip and beat most of her rivals last time.
No horse has won both races, yet, but De Kock has won this race with both Irridescence and Moon Dazzle in the past and expects a big show: “She has a touch of class and surprised us the way she won last time. This is more her trip and she has come on for the run so we expect a bold show.”
African Appeal looked exceptionally unlucky on his local debut in a 1500 handicap a fortnight ago and will not be far away in the 1777m handicap on turf under Murtagh. A Group 1 winner in South Africa, this trip looks ideal and he looks the one to beat. De Kock offers a note of caution though: “He is still improving fitness wise and this should put him spot on. He is in good shape and will go close.”
Extract by Peter Ward from Mike de Kock Racing