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De Kock and Soumillon Seek Six-In-A-Row on Power-Packed $1m Dubai World Cup Carnival Card

A cracking fourth meeting of the 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival is set to be staged on Thursday evening, and highlighting the $1m race card are the Group 2 Al Rashidiya, Group 2 Cape Verdi and UAE 2000 Guineas Trial, all for Thoroughbreds.

The top draw for the Purebred Arabians is the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge.

The Group 2 Al Rashidiya Empowered by IPIC, a turf race over 1800m, has been a very happy hunting ground for South African trainer Mike de Kock.

The master of Blue Stables has not only saddled the winner on eight previous occasions, but also landed each of the last five renewals and is seeking a sixth consecutive victory with horses partnered by Christophe Soumillon.

Four of that quintet carried the colours of Sheikh Mohd bin Khalifa Al Maktoum.

The successful trio of owner, jockey and trainer combine this year with Light The Lights, a winner on his local and stable debut in the Listed Singspiel Stakes, over the same course, on the opening night of the Carnival.

That form looks particularly strong after the runner-up, Championship, won last week’s Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort and, despite the widest draw in 11, is sure to go close.

“He [Light The Lights] delighted us on the first night and has come on for that run,” said De Kock. “That form has worked out particularly well with Championship winning last week and we are very hopeful of a big run on Thursday.”

Godolphin and Saeed bin Suroor perhaps provide the main opposition in the form of Promising Run, a Group 2 winner as a juvenile in England in 2015 and successful in Turkey as recently as September of last year.

“Promising Run always tries her very best and is thriving here in Dubai,” said Bin Suroor. “Obviously it is a tough race but the trip should suit and we are hoping for a big run.”

With Promising Run taking on the colts, her stable companion, Very Special, last year’s winner of the Group 2 Cape Verdi Empowered By CEPSA, an IPIC Group Company, restricted to fillies and mares over 1600m on turf, is set to defend her crown in a race she won easily 12 months ago.

She followed up victory in this contest last year by landing the Group 2 Balanchine, over 1800m, and was last seen on a racecourse when second in July’s Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket, her only European outing of 2016.

“Very Special won twice here in Dubai last year and has been working very well,” said Bin Suroor. “She is a tough mare of whom we expect a big run as she proved herself competitive in Group One company last year.”

De Kock and Soumillon come together with Tahanee, and could well provide the main opposition.

The four year old was unlucky on her local and stable debut in a course and distance handicap three weeks ago but is expected to raise her game on Thursday.

“She is a very nice filly who enjoyed no luck at all on her first start,” said De Kock. “With a clear run we think she would have nearly won that day but Thursday is a lot tougher race and probably the strongest renewal of the Cape Verdi I can remember."

“Tahanee will run well I am sure but Godolphin’s Very Special is going to be hard to beat.”

Godolphin are responsible for four of the 14 runners in the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial Empowered By NOVA, an IPIC Group Company and over 1400m on the dirt.

The Bin Suroor duo of Top Score and Best Solution are joined by Van Der Decken and Fly At Dawn, to be saddled by Charlie Appleby and it seems likely that the winner would come from this quartet.

The only Purebred Arabian contest on the race card is also the opening race of the night, the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R2 Empowered By IPIC, over 2200m on dirt.

Although it has attracted only seven runners, the clash promises to be a fascinating one.

Leading the contenders list is Handassa, one of three runners in the race owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Trained in France by Francois Rohaut, he is Jim Crowley’s mount.

The seven year old made an impressive UAE debut last year with a win on Super Saturday, when he impressed in the 2000m Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3.

He went on to finish fourth in the Dubai Kahayla Classic on World Cup Day over the same course and distance.

His only start since was a winning one, in Turkey, over 2100m on an all-weather surface and he looks the one to beat here.