Trainer Mike de Kock always seems to win a race on his birthday and this year proved no different when the South African added victory in the Racing at Meydan feature on Saturday evening to the two Dubai World Cup carnival handicaps he claimed on Thursday.
The six-race card, presented by Longines also gave British Champion Jockey, Richard Hughes a great opportunity to advertise his skills and he partnered the last two winners on a six race card.
The penultimate race, a 1,600m turf handicap, looked wide open on paper and so it proved, with a plethora of runners holding chances from 100m out.
Yet it was Hughes who gained the day, driving home Red Duke to lead close home and deny stable companion Alhebayeb in a frantic finish.
De Kock said: “We had four in the race and knew they were all capable of a big run. Obviously a 1-2 is a great result and continues our good run after a double on Thursday.”
Hughes promptly doubled up in the concluding 2,000m all-weather handicap, producing the Fawzi Nass-owned and trained Tonabrocky for a storming late run on the inside rail to gain the spoils.
The first of the turf races was a 1,200m handicap and the Doug Watson-trained Kilt Rock, previously considered a Jebel Ali dirt specialist, opened his local grass account in style under Pat Dobbs.
Drawn high, he was always prominent on his side of the track and never far off the overall pace. Taken to the front about 300m out by Pat Dobbs, he was probably passed 200m out by Desuetide but fought back to gain the initiative 100m out and ran on gamely.
Justin Byrne, representing winning owners EERC (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club said: “This horse has been a superstar for us, winning five times at Jebel Ali, but he has struggled this year. We thought he would enjoy a change of venue and, luckily, that has worked out because he has now run three big races here this year.”
Jockey and trainer wasted little time in doubling up, combining with Ostaad to win the following 1400m all-weather handicap.
The meeting opened with a 2,200m all-weather maiden and Adrie De Vries, riding for his main employer, rookie trainer Ahmad bin Harmash, made virtually all on Ghost Army.
Having shown decent form in France when trained by Andre Fabre, he was well beaten on his local debut, at Jebel Ali.
“He is a nice young horse with low mileage. He did not really handle Jebel Ali the last day but has relished this surface,” said De Vries. “With luck he can build on this.”
Richard Mullen, stable jockey for Satish Seemar, was left dreaming of Dubai World Cup Carnival success after the ultra-smooth victory of Genius Step in the 1200m all-weather handicap. It was a second consecutive course and distance victory for the pair.
“We really thought he would win on his penultimate start but, in hindsight, our tactics were wrong and we rode him positively.
“He was than collared close home but we have learned to ride him more conservatively and that is two good wins on the spin. Obviously, we are in the hands of the handicapper, but I would love to sneak into a Carnival sprint handicap on him.”
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