Shea Shea / Dubai Racing Club//Andrew Watkins (p)
$1 MILLION AL QUOZ SPRINT (Group 1)
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