03/30/2012 7:40AM

Dubai: De Kock sees best chances on World Cup Night in Duty Free, UAE Derby

Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club
Trainer Mike de Kock has nine wins on Dubai World Cup Night and has 10 chances to add to that total on Saturday.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - With nine wins in the series, Mike de Kock is the second most successful trainer behind only Saeed bin Suroor in the history of the Dubai World Cup program.

De Kock, the champion trainer in South Africa, will be represented by 10 runners in seven of the eight Thoroughbred races for Saturday night’s 17th World Cup program at Meydan.

On Friday, De Kock sat down with Pat Cummings of Trakkus and the Dubai Racing Club for one of the few interviews he’s given all week to discuss his stable’s chances on World Cup night.

[DUBAI WORLD CUP: Free PPs, video preview, watch the races live]

De Kock believes his best chances for success are with Mutahadee and Musir in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free on turf and Mickdaam in the $2 million UAE Derby on Tapeta.

Mutahadee has gone 2 for 3 this season at Meydan and is coming off a third-place finish, beaten two lengths, in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta by the slow-pace-setting Master of Hounds, who is running in Saturday’s World Cup.

“If we have any chance of getting some sort of speed there he’ll be right there at the finish line,” De Kock said.

Musir owns a win on both Tapeta and turf at this meeting but is coming off a third-place finish in the Burj Nahaar, run on Tapeta.

“He did disappoint," De Kock said. "He didn’t have an ideal preparation. We had to back off him a little. He needed a bit of time off.”

De Kock expects Musir to be among the early leaders and said, “If he gets to the front and gets it soft they’re not going to get past him.”

In the UAE Derby, Mikdaam is an improving 3-year-old who got beat a neck in the UAE Two Thousand Guineas before scoring a smart-looking 2 1/4-length victory in the Al Bastakiya here three weeks ago.

“He’s going to have to improve his form by another length or two to be competitive on Saturday,” De Kock said. “With horses like Wrote and Basada Sale, they’re serious horses. He would have a slight edge in the fact that he’s been here all the time. He trains on the track, he runs around it every day, and he’s won it.

“I think this is an extremely competitive race and just the fact he’s so progressive I would think he must be a horse that must be in the first four."

De Kock did not sound overly confident in the chances of Master of Hounds in the $10 million Dubai World Cup, saying he believes Master of Hounds is better on the turf. Initially, De Kock and Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum were pointing Bold Silvano to the World Cup, but that horse has disappointed in two starts this year and instead is running in the $5 million Sheema Classic on turf.

“With the flop of Bold Silvano [this] season there wasn’t really a back-up for the World Cup,” De Kock said. “Sheikh Mohammed really wanted a World Cup runner and [Master of Hounds] was the only horse we could switch back knowing he’s probably going to be competitive on the surface. But I still feel he’s a better turf horse than he is an all-weather horse, so it’s going to be a tough one.”

Bold Silvano and the mare Mahbooba will represent de Kock in the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic at 1 1/2 miles on turf. Mahbooba is a nose away from having won all three of her starts at Meydan this winter. She is stretching out from 1 1/8 miles in this spot.

“She won beating the colts in Newmarket over a mile and a half,” De Kock said. “She had a pretty good preparation apart from the fact she had a week off with a cough. She was very fit at the time, so I don’t believe that will be a factor.”

De Kock said Bold Silvano came out of his 12th-place finish in the Maktoum Challenge on March 10 with a cough and had to be put on antibiotics.

“It has not been ideal preparation, which would leave a question mark in my opinion,” De Kock said.

De Kock sends out the 9-year-old War Artist in the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint going five furlongs on turf. De Kock has had the horse only since December and was surprised he’d been able to run the horse at this meeting. War Artist finished seventh, beaten only four lengths in the Meydan Sprint on March 10, his first start in five months.
“I was quite impressed with the way he ran last time,” De Kock said. “He had to ease off heels at a crucial stage and probably could have run into the first four. He’s an old horse, they can be unpredictable. He’s a little arthritic. He’s very, very happy at the moment.  … One would expect him to run a big race.”

Irish Flame and Zazamar appear to be a bit off form entering the inaugural $1 million Dubai Gold Cup at two miles on turf.

Zanzamar has had issues with getting his tongue over the bit and will be equipped with a tongue tie on Saturday. Irish Flame’s best races in South Africa came on soft ground, De Kock said.

De Kock will get the night started by saddling Viscount Nelson in the $1 million Godolphin Mile on Tapeta. Viscount Nelson, who has post 13 in the 14-horse field, has raced exclusively on turf in 18 lifetime starts.

De Kock said that running Viscount Nelson 1 1/2 miles last time was a mistake.

“He’s a horse that has had multiple, multiple problems,” De Kock said. “He’s going well though; he’s as happy and as sound as we could possibly get him. Drawn wide might be a blessing in disguise on the Tapeta the way it’s been running the last couple of weeks. He’s a horse on the night that could turn up and do anything.”