Mike de Kock (right): often runs his best three-year-olds in Classic trialsPICTURE: goldcircle.co.za
De Kock ready to unleash his Classic contenders
Preview: UAE, Thursday 4.50pm GMT, Sky/ATR/RUK
Meydan: UAE 2000 Guineas Trial, 7f, Tapeta, 3yo colts conditions race
EVER since this 7f conditions race was first contested it has thrown up a number of subsequent UAE 2000 Guineas winners, beginning with the Jeremy Noseda-trained Stagelight in 2005.
South Africa's Mike De Kock has a habit of introducing his best three-year-olds in this race and subsequent Triple Crown winner Asiatic Boy won it in 2007and a year later Honour Devil, who went on to win both the UAE 2000 Guineas and UAE Derby. That feat was emulated by Musir in 2010.
All three were Southern Hemisphere foals, as are the trainer's three representatives in the race this year, headed by unbeaten Group 1 winner Soft Falling Rain (Paul Hanagan) whose form has all been achieved on turf and over sprint trips. Stable companion El Estruendoso (Christophe Soumillon) won his only start and could be anything.
Luhaif (Mick Channon/Martin Harley) is in the same ownership as both El Estreundoso and De Kock's third runner Zahee (Johnny Geroudis). Luhaif only won once last year but was a close third in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood behind subsequent Group 1 winner Olympic Glory.
Glass Office (David Simcock/Jamie Spencer) is penalised having won the Group 3 Sirenia Stakes on his most recent outing at Kempton in September.
I'm Back (Saeed Bin Suroor/Silvestre De Sousa) is his trainer's only representative with Filfil (Mahmood Al Zarooni/Mickael Barzalona) looking that yard's first string on jockey bookings.
What they say. . .
Mike De Kock, trainer of Soft Falling Rain, El Estruendoso and Zahee
"Soft Falling Rain is a Grade 1 winner at home but has lots of questions to answer here. Can he carry that weight? Will he handle Tapeta in a race? Will he stay the trip? He has a touch of class and I am hopeful he will stay and handle Tapeta as he is out of a Giant's Causeway mare.
"El Estruendoso won his only start nicely and this is his next step in his racing career. We will find out a lot about him. All three will improve for the run, particularly Zahee who arrived a bit later."
David Simcock, trainer of Glass Office
"He is penalised for his Kempton win last time but at least we know the surface should be fine. He should stay seven furlongs this year and seems in good form in the mornings."
Saeed Bin Suroor, trainer of I'm Back
"He had a good season in Europe, winning three and has won on Polytrack and goes well on our Tapeta at Al Quoz. He needs to step up on what he has achieved so far but he has settled in well in Dubai and is pleasing us. He will improve for this run but I hope for a good run."
Mick Channon, trainer of Luhaif
"He showed he was tough and talented last year when kept busy in good company. He has had a nice break and seems in good form so we are hoping for a good run."
Tadhg O'Shea, jockey on Related
"He ran very well on his local debut against seasoned handicappers and returns to his own age group which is in his favour but it is a better class of race. The yard are going well though and he deserves his place in the field."
Mahmood Al Zarooni, trainer of Filfil, Snowboarder and Timoneer
"Filfil's winning form is on Polytrack so Tapeta should be fine for him and he is pleasing us in his work and Mickael rides.
"Snowboarder will also certainly relish the surface given his Polytrack form and seemed to be improving at the end of the season in Europe. This is tougher though. Timoneer has only run on turf so needs to show he can handle the surface."
Also on Thursday 3.40pm GMT Sky/ATR/RUK
Meydan: UAE 1000 Guineas Trial 7f, Tapeta, 3yo fillies conditions race
IRELAND is well represented in this contest with both My Special J's (Pat Shanahan/Tadhg O'Shea) and More Than Sotka (David Marnane/FergalLynch) among the ten declared in a race won last year by Gamilati.
Tadhg O'Shea: rides My Specials J'sPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Gamilati went on to win the first fillies' Classic for Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni, emulating Mahbooba who won both races the previous year for Mike De Kock.
De Kock is not represented this year but Godolphin certainly are with both their trainers saddling two runners apiece.
Jockey bookings would suggest that Music Chart (Mickael Barzalona) is the more strongly fancied of the Al Zarooni pair. She won well on debut under Barzalona before finishing fourth behind stable companion Lovely Pass in a conditions race at Ascot.
Meanwhile, stablemate Kosika (Ahmed Ajtebi) won on her only start to date in a Haydock maiden with Barzalona aboard. It is hard to make a case for the remainder.
What they say. . .
Tadhg O'Shea, jockey on My Special J's
"The Group 2 penalty makes life tough as it is never easy to give weight away and she would not be the biggest but she has settled in really well and Pat Shanahan has her in great form. She seems to love the Tapeta and the trip is ideal so she should give a good account of herself."
Mahmood Al Zarooni, trainer of Kosika and Music Chart
"Kosika has only had that one run and won nicely so we will find out a lot more from this run in a much better class.
"Music Chart did it well first time and was then not disgraced at Ascot in a better race behind another one of our fillies, Lovely Pass. This is her chance to prove herself good enough for the UAE 1000 Guineas."
Saeed bin Suroor, trainer of Mar Mar and Shuruq
"Mar Mar took a while to get her head in front but did it well when she did and that has helped her confidence. The surface should be fine.
"Shuruq won in Polytrack after a third in a hot maiden and she has thrived in the Dubai sunshine. Hopefully she is improving."
David Marnane, trainer of More Than Sotka
"This will be her first start for us but her form in France was good and she has acclimatised nicely. She has done everything we have asked of her and she seems fine on the surface."
Meydan: Dubai Duty Free Full Of Surprises Handicap 1m4f, turf
NOVEMBER Handicap winner Art Scholar (Michael Appleby/Martin Harley) makes his local debut in the concluding race, an ultra competitive 1m4f handicap on the turf.
Ryan Moore: partners Indian raiderPICTURE: HKJC
A maximum field of 16 will face the starter but Appleby is pleased with his charge and said: "He took the travelling well, has settled in nicely and seems in great heart in the mornings. Obviously he is a real favourite in the yard and it is great for a yard such as ours to be here on such a big stage.
"We are looking forward to running him in what looks a very hot race."
It is certainly hard to argue with that sentiment with his opposition headed by Indian supermare In The Spotlight (S Padmanabhan/Ryan Moore) who connections will hope can emulate Mystical, a dual Carnival winner for India in 2007.
He was ridden by Ryan Moore to both those victories for the famous Poonawalla Family, also part-owners of In The Spotlight.
Ahzeemah (Bin Suroor/De Sousa) looks a massive danger to all in the same race.