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Almoonqith Triumphs for Mike De Kock at Meydans Saturday Meeting

Photo: Erika Rasmussen (www.erikarphotography.com)

South African trainer Mike De Kock provided the winner of the featured 1600m turf handicap at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday with Almoonqith landing the spoils under Paul Hanagan, riding for his main employer, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Having failed to fire on the dirt last week, Hanagan’s mount clearly relished the return to turf and was always going nicely for Hanagan. The pair stalked the early pace, enjoying a clear passage, before Hanagan asked his mount to chase Genius Boy who had tried to make all under Adrie De Vries.

As game as Genius Boy was, Almoonqith always looked to have his measure and led in the final 200m to record a second local victory having also won an 1800m turf handicap at Meydan last year.

“He has now won both his turf outings at Meydan,” said Hanagan. “The dirt just did not suit him last week but with that run under his belt we were pretty hopeful today.
“I was always going nicely and happy with him during the race. The second tried to get away from us but I always thought we would get there. It was a decent effort from both horses as we pulled away from the others.”

Apprentice George Buckell was aboard Kanaf, winner of the 1200m turf handicap also for Sheikh Hamdan but trained by Musabah Al Muhairi. He denied Hanagan and the same owner’s De Kock-trained Mastermind.

Kanaf was seemingly outpaced in the early stages of the race and on his first turf outing since March 2013. Yet he made relentless progress just after halfway before hitting the front in the final 200m to register a fairly comfortable victory in the end.

Four times a Jebel Ali winner last season and five times in total, he was registering a first turf win since July 2011 when trained in England by Ed Dunlop.

“We were not the fastest away and they then went pretty hard up front,” said Buckell. “The leaders came back to us and then he really enjoyed running through the other horses.”

Trainer Doug Watson’s excellent season continues with him supplying both first and second in a 1600m dirt handicap. However, stable jockey, Pat Dobbs was on the wrong one this time, partnering State Law who was a gallant second to stable companion, One Man Band under Sam Hitchcott.

Hitchcott’s mount was successful in a 1900m course maiden on his penultimate start, before finishing third over the same course and distance as this victory.

“We knew both had strong claims,” said Watson. “Obviously it is great when you see two of your own runners fighting out a finish with no other challengers. It is a great result for the whole team and the horses continue to run well.
“That was only a sixth career run for One Man Band and hopefully there is improvement in him. It was a tough choice for Pat.”

Ali Rashid Al Raihe was another trainer to saddle a 1-2 with stable jockey, Royston Ffrench, in the saddle aboard Not A Given who collared stable companion Ghaamer close home in a 1400m dirt handicap.

The runner-up made a gallant attempt to make all under Dane O’Neill but had no answer to the late challenge of Ffrench’s mount, opening his UAE account at the ninth attempt and recording a fourth career victory.

“He has been running well,” said Ffrench. “It was his fifth start for us since joining the yard this season and he has not run a bad race. It is great for the yard to supply first and second.”

If ever a horse deserved to lose their maiden tag the Satish Seemar-trained Year Of Glory certainly fitted that category and, finally at the tenth attempt and eighth locally, he was able to put his head in front.

Previously second in three of his four most recent starts, including most recently behind Thursday’s Dubai World Cup Carnival winner Mubtaahij, he led nearly all the way under Richard Mullen in the opening 1200m dirt maiden.

“He has ran some great races in defeat,” said Mullen. “We knew we had a good draw in two and were keen to utilise that and be positive. He was dropping back in trip today and has coped well with it.
“It is great for the owner and the whole team. Now he has won, hopefully he can do so again.”

The meeting concluded with a 1900m dirt handicap, won easily by Ormindo for trainer, Ahmad bin Harmash and stable jockey, Adrie De Vries.