De Kock and Godolphin go head-to-head in feature races as action heats up
The 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival steps up a gear on Thursday with a pair of Group 2 turf contests with intriguing clashes in each, primarily between Godolphin and Mike de Kock, who has a particularly good record in each race.
The 7f Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort (4.50) merits its status as feature race, having attracted a field of nine and a strong case could be made for nearly all of them.
De Kock, who has won the race six times, is double handed through Janoobi, the mount of Jim Crowley, and the Christophe Soumillon-ridden Noah From Goa, who was third in the race last year on his UAE debut.
De Kock made it clear at the start of the carnival his horses were going to improve throughout and both have had a previous run, Noah From Goa finishing an excellent third on the opening night in a handicap.
The trainer said: “We were delighted with Noah From Goa first time and, as we expected, he just seemed to tire close home.
“He has improved from that, as has Janoobi from his return over six furlongs. Janoobi has a good draw [in stall three] for one who likes to race prominently.”
When Noah From Goa was third three weeks ago the winner was D’Bai, trained by Charlie Appleby, who also saddles Jungle Cat in this contest.
The Godolphin trainer said: “D’Bai has thrived in Dubai and has been in excellent form since that win.
“Seven furlongs seems to suit Jungle Cat these days, and he’s working nicely. He should also be a player.”
Last year’s winner Championship returns from 350 days off, having not been seen since landing the Group 2 Zabeel Mile.
The mount of Silvestre de Sousa, Championship is the apple of Ahmad Bin Harmash’s eye. The trainer said: “He’s not run this season because there have been few suitable options for him, but he’s in great form, fit and ready for a run.
“He showed last year he’s a very good horse and we hope he can prove it again during this carnival.”
Leading Light in Al Rashidiya
De Kock has an even better record in the 1m1f Group 2 Al Rashidiya (3.05), having won it eight times. Group 1-winner Al Sahem, campaigned by Sean Tarry in South Africa, has his first start for his new trainer, but Christophe Soumillon partners stablemate Light The Lights, winner of a 1m2f handicap three weeks ago.
De Kock explained: “We’ve left Christophe on Light The Lights, who’s race fit, whereas Al Sahem is going to improve for his run, with hopefully World Cup night and then Hong Kong in mind.”
Pat Cosgrave rides Al Sahem, while Oisin Murphy is aboard Benbatl, bidding to give Saeed Bin Suroor a sixth victory in the race.
The Godolphin trainer said: “Benbatl delighted us winning the Singspiel Stakes and his recent work has been very good. This looks the right opportunity for him and he couldn’t be in better form.”
Appleby runs Bay Of Poets and Bravo Zolo, who could advertise the form of D’Bai, having chased him home last time.
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