De Kock Well Represented at Meydan Saturday Meeting

After a 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival double at Meydan on Thursday, South African trainer, Mike De Kock returns to Meydan with four declared in the featured 1200m handicap on the turf.

Lehaaf, the mount of Thierry Thulliez, failed to fire on the Jebel Ali dirt last Friday but had run very well on his local debut on Meydan`s all-weather track prior to that.

Stable companion Final Button is seeking a first local victory, at the eighth attempt and third this season but was an excellent third a fortnight ago in a 1400m turf handicap. Gary Carroll, in the saddle on that occasion, keeps the ride.

They would appear the trainer’s main hopes with Red Duke, to be ridden by Richard Hughes, starting to look disappointing and the yard’s fourth runner, Alhebayeb, yet to show his best in three runs this year.

De Kock said: “We took Lehaaf to Jebel Ali hoping for a big run to boost his rating and try and get him in a valuable handicap in the Dubai World Cup Carnival. It did not work out so we will have another go here because he showed on his first Meydan run he can be very competitive at the Carnival.

“Final Button is certainly capable of a big run at this level and stays 1600m well. Red Duke and Alhebayeb need to bounce back to their best juvenile form but both are fit and well.”

Pat Cosgrave rides Alhebayeb, one of six in the race owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum whose retained jockey, Paul Hanagan, chooses to ride Jawhar, trained by Doug Watson.

On his penultimate start a month ago Jawhar, under Hanagan, broke this 1600m turf track record and he ran well for a long way in a stronger 2000m handicap last time.

Like De Kock, Watson saddles four in the race, including Oasis Dancer, a short-head behind Jawhar four weeks ago. With stable jockey, Pat Dobbs, aboard Sheikh Hamdan’s Marching Time, Fergal Lynch rides Oasis Dancer.

The trainer said: “Oasis Dancer has been running so consistently all season, both at Meydan and Jebel Ali, and deserves a change of luck.

“Jawhar remains in great form and I expect them both to run well again.”

The other turf handicap on the Longines card is over 1200m and again Sheikh Hamdan is well represented, this time with five runners declared (one of whom, Murbeh, is a late non-runner). Hanagan has chosen Mooqtar, having only his fourth career start and first locally.

Now trained by Musabah Al Muhairi, he has to give weight to his 11 rivals, including the same owner’s Odooj, a stable companion of Hanagan’s mount and to be ridden by Al Muhairi’s stable jockey, Wayne Smith.

The Watson trio of Kilt Rock, Muaanid and Famous Warrior should also be competitive and reigning UAE Champion Trainer, Ernst Oertel, would love to get a winner on the board in his quest to retain his title.

He relies on Brazen, the mount of promising apprentice, Daniel Muscutt.