De Kock Guns for Record Eighth Victory in Group 2 Al Rashidiya

Mujaarib (black cap) seen here claiming the 2014 Al Rashidiya under Christophe Soumillon, bids to become the only horse to win the race twice.

Credit: Dubai Racing Club // Andrew Watkins

South African training maestro, Mike de Kock will bid for his eighth victory in the Group 2 Al Rashidiya at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday evening during the fourth meeting of the 2016 Dubai World Cup Carnival.

De Kock’s dominance in the 1800m turf contest has been absolute in recent years, with his Blue Stables providing the last four winners of the US$200,000 race as well as in 2004, 2005 and 2009. Compatriot, Herman Brown disrupted De Kock’s early run in the race when he trained Linngari to the win in 2006, giving South Africa a total of eight Al rashidiya wins.

De Kock’s 2016 challenge takes on a three-pronged attack with one of his runners, Mujaarib bidding to become the first horse to win the race twice following victory in 2014.

Homebred by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Mujaarib has not won since and was disappointing last season, but connections will be bolstered by a pleasing course and distance third on his seasonal return in the Listed Singspiel Stakes, a race won by More Aspen.

Nevertheless Mujaarib has been overlooked by Sheikh Hamdan’s first jockey, Paul Hanagan in favour of local debutant and Grade 1 winner, Ertijaal while second jockey, Dane O’Neill partners Mujaarib.

Winner of last year’s Cape Derby in South Africa almost exactly a year ago, Ertijaal will be having his first outing since the end of May when finishing second in the Grade 1 Daily News 2000 (over 2000m), at Greyville Racecourse.

Belgian jockey, Christophe Soumillon, who was in the saddle for all of De Kock’s last four Al Rashidiya victories, will partner the resurgent Forries Waltz for Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum. Soumillon’s mount has only suffered one career defeat, on his sole Meydan Racecourse appearance last year, but bounced back to winning ways in style when landing a 1600m turf handicap at the second meeting of this year’s Dubai World Cup Carnival.

“Ertijaal is a class performer but returning off a long break,” said De Kock. “He will definitely improve for the run and we hope he is a Super Saturday or Dubai World Cup-night horse, but I cannot really split my three as the other pair are race fit.

“Mujaarib is in much better shape than he was last year and we were pleased with his first run. With that under his belt he should be competitive. It is a step up in class for Forries Waltz but he deserves his chance in this company.

"It was a very competitive handicap he won two weeks ago and the extra 200m should not be a problem. We expect all three to run big races in a contest where we have traditionally done well.”

Just behind third-placed Mujaarib in the Singspiel Stakes was Limario, trained by Doug Watson and a course and distance handicap winner last February. He was arguably a bit unlucky when runner up and looks capable of a good run.
“He was denied a clear run last time,” said Watson. “That really did not help his chances so, with a bit more luck in running, he can hopefully go well as he is in great form at home and working very well.”

Trained in Lambourn by William Muir, Big Baz, the Singspiel Sakes runner up, was ahead of both Limario and Mujaarib when denied close home by the fast finishing More Aspen. The winner of his final two starts in England, both Listed races, he would be one to watch.

England-based trainers are particularly well represented with Bossy Guest, trained by Mick Channon, Calling Out, trained by David Simcock, the Michael Attwater-trained El Tren, Moohaarib from the yard of Marco Botti and Battle Of Marathon trained by John Ryan, also among the 14 declarations.

The other five Dubai World Cup Carnival races are handicaps, three on turf and two on the dirt track. All look highly competitive and Pick Six players face a tricky conundrum on a night the Godolphin trainers, Charlie Appleby and Saeed bin Suroor, saddle just four runners between them.

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