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29 November 2023

Former Sir Henry Cecil charge makes UAE debut for De Kock

By Staff

South African Mike De Kock was in dominant form on Thursday, winning half of the six races, including the featured Group 2 Al Rashidiya and is represented by Specific Gravity on Saturday - an evening of domestic racing presented by Longines.

Formerly trained in the UK by Sir Henry Cecil for whom he won twice, the five-year-old will be having his first run since September in the featured 1600m turf handicap and his new handler said: “He seems to have settled in well and is working well enough. He will improve with the run under his belt and may need further in time but we think he should a fun horse for the syndicate of owners.

“Thursday was a great night and this is our only runner Saturday – hopefully he can be competitive.”

Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor continues to lead the way at the Dubai World Cup Carnival and was also in the winner’s enclosure on Thursday.

He has four runners in the race with Silvestre De Sousa riding Flag Officer, a good fourth on his local debut two weeks ago.

“We were pleased with that first run since May and Flag Officer has been working well since,” said the trainer. "He is a five-year-old but relatively lightly raced so hopefully he can improve on what he has shown so far.”

Mickael Barzalona rides stable companion, Les Troyens, with Ted Durcan on My Freedom and Daragh O’Donohoe (who missed Thursday’s action) scheduled to ride the yard’s fourth runner, Terdaad.

Leading owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum is also well represented by five of the 15 remaining runners, with his retained jockey, Paul Hanagan opting for Nawwaar for Champion Trainer, Ali Rashid Al Raihe. He was third on his UAE debut a fortnight ago and has the plum draw in one.

The owner’s second jockey, Dane O’Neill, rides Marching Time, trained by Doug Watson.

Bin Suroor saddled a treble at a similar meeting two weeks ago and could do so again with Gold City sure to be a popular Pick Six selection on his local debut in the concluding 1400m handicap on the all-weather.

Like Flag Officer in the feature, he will be ridden by De Sousa, as will Last Fighter in a 1900m handicap, also on the all-weather.

Bin Suroor saddles three in that race with De Sousa’s mount sharing the burden of top-weight with stable companion Layali Dubai who has the assistance of Mickael Barzalona in the saddle.

Pat Dobbs rides the third Godolphin runner, Mawhub on whom he won here a fortnight ago, over course and distance, as part of the trainer’s treble.

Only ten have been declared but the Godolphin runners may not have it all their own way with the Al Raihe-trained Blue Sea and Karma Chameleon, to be saddled by Watson, both looking certain to appreciate stepping back up to this trip.