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Bin Suroor Relishing Local Derby

UAE 2000 Guineas winner Maftool(left) and Mubtahij renew their rivalry in the UAE Derby tomorrow (Saturday)
Photo: Dubai Racing Club // Andrew Watkins

Since its inception in 2000, the Group 2 $2m UAE Derby, sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group, has been pretty much dominated by Godolphin, Saeed bin Suroor and South African Mike De Kock.

In fact, prior to the victory of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Daddy Long Legs in 2012, only Bin Suroor and De Kock had actually registered a victory in the race.

However, since Bin Suroor’s Khawlah (the only filly to win the race), landed the spoils in 2011, both trainers have drawn a blank.

Normal service looks likely to be resumed this year with Bin Suroor relying on his UAE 2000 Guineas winner, Maftool (USA), who has not been seen since that victory in the middle of February.

“He is doing very well at home,” said Bin Suroor. “We think he is improving all the time and Paul Hanagan, who again rides him, has been riding him regularly.

“It is a strong race but the extra trip should suit and he has a good chance.”

On that occasion he defeated the De Kock-trained Mubtaahij (IRE), subsequently winner of Super Saturday’s Al Bastakiya, over the same 1900m dirt course and distance as Saturday’s concluding leg of the UAE Triple Crown.

In winning that, De Kock’s charge ended the unbeaten record of Godolphin new recruit, Sir Fever (URU), star horse of Uruguay and winner of his homeland’s triple crown. The last horse to achieve that particular feat was Invasor – winner of the 2007 Dubai World Cup but beaten – for the only time, in this race in 2006.

“Mubtaahij has gone from strength to strength this season and relishes this kind of trip, said De Kock.

“It looks a competitive renewal with the Godolphin duo we have already seen to be more than useful, as well as several we have not come across from America, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Europe.

“All I know is my horse is in good form and a genuine stayer at this trip on a surface he handles well.”

Perhaps significantly, Christophe Soumillon will ride him for the first time and ensure he will be at his lowest riding weight all year.
Sir Fever is now trained by Charlie Appleby, who said: “I was very pleased with his first run and it gave William Buick a great opportunity to get to know him in a race scenario.

“We have added blinkers and a shadow roll to try to aid his concentration.”

Golden Barows (JPN) could be the best of three Japanese challengers.