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De Kock back in Carnival spotlight

Top South African handler sends out Janoobi to win the Group 2 Zabeel Mile

Gulf News

Dubai: Team Godolphin’s accumulation of silverware at the Dubai World Cup Carnival continued unabated but two of three feature races at Thursday’s meeting significantly eluded the Boys in Blue.

Charlie Appleby, who trains out of the Marmoom desert stables, collected two trophies including the Group 3 Dubai Millenium Stakes sponsored by District One Mansions, courtesy the exciting Folkswood and the District One Contemporary handicap with Walton Street.

However, the evening’s principal honours were claimed by South Africa’s Mike de Kock, a Carnival heavyweight who has hitherto had to endure a relative quiet season, by his own high standards.

The smiles were back on the man who has been described by the Daily Mail as ‘racing’s pioneering international trainer’, following the smart success of South African-bred Janoobi in the Group 2 $250,000 Zabeel Mile.

More importantly, the four-year-old son of German stallion Silvano, who had the assistance of two-time British champion jockey Jim Crowley, had the measure of well-regarded runners Championship and stablemate, Noah from Goa, a Guineas inner last term.

De Kock is mulling a change in tactics for his winner due to the lack of suitable races with only two meetings remaining in the Carnival before the Dubai World Cup on March 31.

“That was a very good ride from Jim, who did well to angle off the fence to alleviate the chance of getting trapped on the rail,” De Kock added. “We were quite hopeful back over 1600m, which is his best trip, but I think the 1800m of the Jebel Hatta would be too far, so we could try him on dirt.

“I think he would handle the surface with his style of running, but we will have to talk to Shaikh Hamdan [Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance], first. Noah From Goa will head for the Jebel Hatta on Super Saturday, and looks as though he will appreciate the extra 200m.”

The night kicked-off with a race that had the potential to blow the roof right off the Meydan grandstand and it very nearly did.

Ertijaal, the UAE’s top-rated horse of 2017, held on gallantly to win the Group 2 $175,000 Meydan Sprint sponsored by District One Greenery Stretch over a 1000m on turf.

Appleby’s Blue Point, winner of the Gimcrack Stakes in the UK last season, was making his first start over 1,000m, a distance that proved a trifle short in the end for the fast finishing son of Shamardal.

“He was on his toes a bit in the stalls and actually missed the break a little bit, but was soon in that amazing rhythm he has,” winning jockey Jim Crowley said. “I was always happy on him and we knew Blue Point, who is a very good sprinter himself, would be staying on. When my horse is challenged, I know he is going to find plenty for pressure and that is what happened.”

The Group 3 $200,000 Dubai Millennium Stakes sponsored by District One Mansions, over 2000m on the turf, produced another grandstand finish with the Godolphin pair, Folkswood and Leshlaa, battling toe-to-toe in the last half furlong.

In the end, it was Folkswood, partnered by William, who prevailed over the Pat Cosgrave-ridden Leshlaa.

Saeed Bin Surour, who prepared the runner-up, was the first to congratulate Appleby in the winner’s circle.

Two races back, the son of Exceed and Excel was a game third behind Australia’s wondermare Winx in her history-making Cox Plate (G1) hat-trick triumph.

“The horse really deserves a lot of credit for that win because we were in trouble with nowhere to go for a little while, but when the gap opened, he really picked up in style,” Buick said. “I knew once we were clear, it was going to be close and the horse has really battled to lead on the line. His last run was in Australia was in November, so he was entitled to need this outing.”