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South African trainer steals Meydan limelight

De Kock wins trio of races, Bin Surour out to redress the balance on Saturday

Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
The Apache ridden by jockey Christophe Soumillon and trained by Mike de Kock wins the 1800m Al Rashidiya race followed at Meydan on Thursday night.
Gulf News

Dubai: Godolphin handler Saeed Bin Surour will be looking to recapture the advantage when racing returns to Meydan racecourse on Saturday for a six-event domestic card.

The champion Godolphin handler saw traditional Carnival rival Mike de Kock steal the show at Thursday night’s meeting by saddling a three-timer topped by a momentous victory in the feature race of the day — the Group 2 Al Rashidiya.

The South African handler upset the trend set by Bin Surour and his Godolphin teammate Mahmoud Al Zarouni, with handsome wins by Mushreq, Rerouted and The Apache, who landed the main event under stable jockey Christophe Soumillon.

Conditions at Meydan favoured the South African raider, who brushed off any doubts about his lack of recent form when he did the better work to deny Godolphin’s City Style by three-quarters of a length, while favourite Sharestan had to settle for third after not having the run of the race.

The Apache, a two-time Grade 1 winner in South Africa, where he was champion three-year-old in 2011, was having his first start for de Kock and owner Shaikh Mohammad Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, who won the Al Rashidiya 12 months ago with Musir.

The 1,800m contest on turf is traditionally seen as the lead-up race to the $5million Dubai Duty Free (G1) on Dubai World Cup night and it is almost certain that The Apache will attempt to follow in the mighty footsteps of Right Approach and Presvis, two horses who won both races.

De Kock was delighted to win the race for the fifth time and said: “Our horses have taken their time to come right because of all the travelling.

“He is a good horse. He’s not near peak fitness and I actually thought he would need the run. He’ll improve after that. We are very proud of him.

Soumillon was also impressed, adding: “He was working very well in the morning. He’s not a very big horse so he doesn’t need too many races in his working. We are quite confident. It was a test run — there were so many good horses in this race.”

Former world number one golfer Lee Westwood was at Meydan to cheer Rerouted, a horse he part-owns, to victory in the Dubal Casthouse Trophy over 1,400m on the All-Weather.

Westwood, who is competing in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament being played at the Emirates Golf Club was all smiles and said: “We have had some joy here in the past, especially with Right Approach, and this horse has been running well in defeat so it is nice to see him win.”

De Kock’s third winner came courtesy two-time British champion jockey Paul Hanagan, who partnered Mushreq to win the opening Dubal Billet Trophy Handicap for owner Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance.

Saturday’s meeting, which is sponsored by watchmaker Longines, gets underway at 6.50pm.