Racing at Meydan on Saturday may not be a Dubai World Cup Carnival card, but does feature several runners with aspirations for the international extravaganza, including Bold Rex, one of two in the official highlight over 1400m on turf for trainer Mike de Kock.
The 5-year-old gelded son of Bold Silvano was tenth, beaten just five lengths, in a 1600m turf handicap at the Carnival won by stable companion Baroot last Thursday. That was the trainer’s first winner of the season. It was the horse’s first run since a fruitless 2018 carnival campaign, during which he fractured his pelvis in February.
Bold Rex is joined in the field by intriguing stablemate Conclusion, a 4-year-old colt by Japanese super-sire Deep Impact, having his first start for the trainer after having won twice in Ireland for Aidan O’Brien. With an official rating of 89, he is just below the requisite 90 for a Carnival berth on dirt and 6lb below the 95 required on turf.
De Kock said: “Bold Rex was disappointing last year, but ran much better behind Baroot and should have improved for that run. Conclusion is an interesting new recruit whose pedigree suggests we can try him on dirt at some stage, but this looks like a good spot to get him going.”
The de Kock duo face 13 rivals in what looks an exceptionally competitive heat. Rocket Power, trained by Ahmad bin Harmash for Mohd Khalifa Al Basti, has won his three most recent outings—all at Jebel Ali—the latest over 1600m three weeks ago. This will actually only be his second ever turf outing having, on this weekend last year, finished fourth to the same owner’s Billingsgate in a 1400m Abu Dhabi handicap. Saddled by Musabbeh Al Mheiri, Billingsgate has not won since, but has been running well in defeat this season, twice at Abu Dhabi and most recently over Saturday’s course and distance.
Al Basti actually owns four runners in the race, with his quartet completed by G K Chesterton and George Villiers, trained by Doug Watson and Satish Seemar, respectively. Richard Mullen has opted to ride the latter, a 4-year-old Dubawi colt having just his second UAE outing, leaving Tadhg O’Shea to partner stable companion, Above Normal, who won twice at Jebel Ali in the early part of the season before being well beaten by Rocket Power on his latest outing in the middle of December.
For the same trainer, Mickael Barzalona rides Speedy Move, set to receive weight from his 14 rivals and, the last time he ran on turf, a close fourth last February in a 1400m Meydan handicap. He carries the colours of Tough Gold Racing, who are not the only local syndicate represented in the race, as Pat Dobbs is set to sport the silks of the EERC (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club) aboard Watson-trained Pillar of Society. A 5-year-old Roderic O’Connor gelding rated 91 on both surfaces, he was also entered in a 1600m carnival dirt handicap on Thursday, so it is interesting that he runs here.
EERC spokesman, Justin Byrne, said: “He has a Carnival rating on dirt, but we would like to get his turf mark to the required 95, so this looked a good opportunity to do that. He should run well in an open race.”
The presence of Barzalona at a Saturday Meydan fixture normally means winners and he combined with Sandeep Jadhav to register a double at the previous one a fortnight ago, including Pirate’s Cove in a 1200m dirt handicap. They are again in action over the same course and distance and will be difficult to beat, all things being equal.
Watson’s Big Brown Bear has always been considered a Carnival prospect and faces eight rivals in a 2200m dirt handicap. Rated 82, the 4-year-old Tiznow colt would need a convincing victory to get his Carnival mark of 90, but has occasionally flashed the kind of talent required.
For Seemar and Mullen, Heraldic, seeking his third consecutive course and distance success, could be the main danger and has proven a tough horse to pass once he gets to the front.
The seven-race card, sponsored in its entirety by the Al Naboodah Group, kicks off at 4pm.