Dubai: Godolphin and Mike de Kock continued to dominate the Dubai World Cup Carnival on Thursday night, combining to win four of the card’s seven races as three more track records tumbled.
The dominance of the two powerhouse stables means that overall they have won 27 of 54 races contested since the $37.36 million (Dh137.2 million) event kicked-off on January 10. The Carnival is set to culminate in the prestigious Dubai World Cup meeting on March 30.
And, as has been the trend all season, the showpiece races of the night were halved by the traditional rivals, with Godolphin’s Sajjhaa recording a shock win over De Kock’s huge favourite Igugu in the Group 2 Balanchine before Mushreq levelled the scores for the South African handler by landing the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort.
Igugu, a six-year-old Australian-bred mare who was South Africa’s Horse of the Year in 2011-12, brought with her great expectations but could only finish a mediocre third behind Group 2 Cape Verdi Stakes heroine Sajhaa and Godolphin’s Prussian.
However, De Kock strongly defended the daughter of Galileo, who is jointly owned by Shaikh Mohammad Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and Australian businessman Andre MacDonald.
“They went at breakneck speed and Igugu was fresh and pulling some to go with them,” he said on his website on Friday. “She got involved in a duel of speed with Godolphin’s pacemaker Dark Orchid, the fractions were very fast.
“Igugu got tired in the stretch but she stayed to the line and she wasn’t disgraced at all considering the factors involved. The fact that Dark Orchid faded right out — she was beaten almost 20 lengths — shows just how fast the clip was.
“Let’s face it, nobody died. She will be back.”
De Kock revealed that Igugu’s Carnival program would remain unaltered and that she will next be aimed at the Jebel Hatta over 1,800m on Super Saturday, March 9.
“She will improve many lengths in the next two weeks and we hope to have her near her best on the day,” he said of his star, who was returning to action after a break of 13 months since winning the Group 1 J & B Met in January 2012.
If de Kock needed a tonic after Igugu’s setback, it came in the form of Mushreq, who stormed home a three-and-a-half length winner of the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort to complete a meet double for the handler following Await The Dawns’ emphatic win in a 1,600m handicap earlier in the evening.
“Mushreq has been a revelation. He’s made the kind of rapid improvement we last saw from Lizard’s Desire here a few season ago before he ran his great race in the Dubai World Cup,” he said. “Mushreq’s getting better and stronger every day and he’s defied his penalties. He’s just doing everything right, going the right way.
“We’ll probably now look at the Dubai Duty Free [$5m, Group 1, March 30].”
Earlier in the evening, Mahmoud Al Jahouri continued his big race winning streak when he won the Group 2 Bani Yas for Purebred Arabians with Rakha, while American handler Seth Benzel opened his Carnival account after eight tries when Dux Scholar took the concluding 1,000m turf handicap.
Race 1. Bani Yas (G2) sponsored by Swaidan Trading Heavy Equipment Division (PA) 1,400m AW: 1. Rakha (M Al Jahouri; 2. TM Super Bird; 3. Big N Rich; 4. MH Al Wadi. Dist: 0.75L, 2.5, 0.75. Time: 01:33.11s (Track Record).
Race 2. Al Naboodah Commercial Group Trophy (TB Handicap) 2,000m Turf: 1. Await The Dawn (M de Kock) P Cosgrave; 2. So Beautiful; 3. Salon Soldier; 4. Without Fear. Dist: 2.75L, 4. Short Head. Time: 02:01.54s (Track Record).
Race 3. Al Naboodah Travel & Tourism Agencies Trophy (TB Handicap) 1,900m AW: 1. Con Artist (S Bin Surour) S De Souza); 2 Plantagenet; 3. Specific Gravit; 4. Zain Shamardal. Dist: 3.75L, 2.25, 0.75. Time: 01:52.87s.
Race 4. Balanchine (G2), sponsored by Al Naboodah Construction Group (TB) 1800m Turf: 1. Sajjhaa (S Bin Surour) S de Souza; 2. Prussian; 3. Igugu; 4. Lily’s Angel. Dist: 1L, 3.25, 1. Time: 01:48.58s (Track Record).
Race 5. SMKA Trophy (TB Handicap) 1,600m AW: 1. Unbridled Ocean (S Seemar) R Mullen; 2, Sandagiyr; 3. Rostrum; 4. Ariete Arrollador. Dist:0.75L, 0.25, 0.75. Time: 01.36.81s.
Race 6. Al Fahidi Fort (G2), sponsored by Saeed & Mohammad Al Naboodah Group (TB) 1,600m Turf: 1. Mushreq (M de Kock) P Hanagan; 2. Mast of Houds; 3. Iguazu Falls; 4. Musir. Dist: 3.55L, Short Head, 0.75. Time: 01:36.80s.
Race 7. Al Naboodah Construction Group Trophy (TB Handicap) 1,000m Turf: 1. Dux Scholar (S Benzel) K Ulubaev; 2. Russian Soul; 3. Medicean Man; 4. Bear Behind. Dist: 1.25L, 0.25, 0.75. Time: 0:57.57s.