Mike de Kock is confident Asiatic Boy is back to his best ahead of the 2008 Dubai World Cup, saying he would not be surprised if his stable star lowered Curlin’s colours in the world’s richest race on March 29.
The South African maestro’s flagbearer will be looking to make history in the $6 million (Dh22m) race as the first horse to secure the UAE Derby and Dubai World Cup double, a feat the trainer says would be the crowning moment of his career.
“I have won six races at Dubai World Cup meetings, but I would trade them all to see Asiatic Boy win the big one,” de Kock said.
The four-year-old overcame a tardy start and traffic problems to score an impressive victory in the Group 3 Al Shindagha sprint on his first start in 2008, but followed up with a disappointing run in the Group 3 Burj Nahaar, finishing third behind the Saeed bin Suroor-trained duo Elusive Warning and Blackat Blackitten.
“We didn’t do enough with him going into the race and he wasn’t quite fit enough,” explained de Kock.
“We have had some good work-outs since then and he has improved no end from his last run.
“I think the ratings are pretty accurate going into the race with Curlin in a league of his own, but I certainly wouldn’t rule our horse out. A race can go anyway and we will be there to win if Curlin doesn’t.”
Also lining up for the showpiece will be Maktoum Challenge Round 2 winner Lucky Find.
Redirected to the headline race after originally being aimed at the Group 2 Godolphin Mile, the four-year-old will give owner Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum a chance to compete against his father who owns Asiatic Boy.
Lucky Find finished third in Round 3 of the Maktoum Challenge behind fellow Dubai World Cup challengers Jalil and Gloria de Campeao, but De Kock remains upbeat about the prospects of his South African-bred saying: “He can definitely run second and will be a better horse on the big night than those that beat him last time out.”
While the big race may be at the forefront of de Kock’s mind, he also holds a strong hand in the supporting races with a further six runners.
The top international trainer at this year’s Dubai International Racing Carnival is pinning his main hopes of success on Royal Vintage and Honour Devil, who run in the Group 2 UAE Derby, saying they represent his “best chance of a win on the night”.
The pair have dominated the three-year-old colts division in the UAE this season, producing thrilling head to head battles on two occasions. Round One was won by Honour Devil in the Group 3 UAE 2,000 Guineas while Royal Vintage proved too strong in the rematch, taking the Listed Al Bastakiya.
De Kock said: “It’s hard to split them as they are both top-class horses, but if I had to bet my life on it I would go with Honour Devil.
“Royal Vintage is probably a better horse, but he is not as tough as Honour Devil.”
Racing: 'Asiatic Boy can surprise'