De Kock's Sweep Highlights Dubai Carnival

By Jason Ford
South African trainer Mike De Kock saddled a memorable 1-2 in what was probably the most exciting race in the three weeks of the Dubai International Carnival so far, the listed Al Rashidiya Stakes over 1,777 meters on grass Saturday night.

It was the main race on the sixth night of the Carnival.

Gary Hind set a searching pace on Rashid Boursely's St Expedit and the pair were still clear entering the straight when De Kock's Surveyor led those in pursuit. For a moment it looked as though the frontrunner would hold on, but Surveyor, Mick Channon's Checkit and Bahraini challenger Lodge Keeper all threatened, along with Zirna from Macau and the locally-trained Trademark.

Surveyor finally passed St Expedit but he had no answer for his stable companion, Right Approach, who appeared on the scene fast and late to snatch the spoils under Kerrin McEvoy. Surveyor was second and St Expedit third.

The winner, a 5-year-old son of Machiavellian, made his first start for De Kock having been trained in the United Kingdom by Sir Michael Stoute, on behalf of his breeder, Her Majesty The Queen, for whom he won in listed company. He was third past the post, subsequently promoted to second, in the Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot last year and has an abundance of talent. It is his resolution that was often questioned.

He certainly looked genuine enough on Saturday night, a sentiment echoed by his new trainer and part owner. "He was a bit of an experiment when we bought him," De Kock said. "We wanted a good horse for little money and he fitted the bill. He had been working well but everybody kept telling us he was not genuine.

"That clouded our confidence but his work was great. The change has done him the power of good. Don't forget the runner-up, he has run a great race."

His new connections, who include golfer Lee Westwood, paid 65,000gns for him at Tattersalls last Autumn. He is a half-brother to four winners and a full-brother to New Assembly, who was listed-placed in Saratoga. Their dam, Abbey Strand, is a winning Shadeed half-sister to listed winner Church Parade and to Whitechapel, Leading Star and Castle Rising, all of whom were placed in group company.

The second dam, Christchurch, was a winning So Blessed half-sister to the legendary Highclere, the winner of the 1,000 Guineas and dam of Height of Fashion, herself the dam of Nashwan, Unfuwain and Nayef.

Abbey Strand has a yearling full-brother to this winner named Dean's Yard and a juvenile colt by Benny The Dip named Benedict.

Mazin Al Kurdi's Prince of Denmark made every yard of the running under Ted Durcan in the 1,700-meter conditions race for 3-year-olds on the dirt. It was a very game effort by the son of Danetime who was recording his third win four UAE starts, having been listed-placed in the UK.

Trainer John Gosden made a huge impact in the UK after his arrival from the States and his first Carnival starter was a winner when Richard Hills partnered Rawyaan to land the spoils in the first leg of the 12-furlong handicap. Third from last entering the straight, Hills extracted the 5-year-old son of Machiavellian to finish fast and wide and snatch the spoils close home.

Kuwaiti trainer Rashid Bouresly has been enjoying a good season and his Cat Belling sprung a surprise in the first division of the 1,500-meter turf handicap, breaking the track record in the process. The 4-year-old daughter of Catrail, having her fifth Carnival start, won the Derrinstown Stud 1,000 Guineas (Ire-III) trial last year before being sold for 50,000gns at Tattersalls in the Autumn.

She was given a fine ride by Willie Supple and denied the front running effort Frankie Dettori on Godolphin's Western Diplomat, a 4-year-old son of Gone West having only his third career start.

Boursely and Hills then combined to record their double when Conceal won the five-furlong dirt handicap. A 22,000gns purchase at Tattersalls in the July of 2002, this 6-year-old gelded son of Cadeaux Genereux has proved a real bargain, winning his second course and distance Carnival race. He won the listed H H The President Cup, over seven furlongs on turf in January.

The Godolphin team may have been thwarted with Western Diplomat but new recruit Three Graces made no mistake in the second leg of the 1,500-meter turf handicap. A 4-year-old son of Peintre Celebre, he had good form for Marcus Tregoning in the UK last year and, despite missing the break, always looked in control to record his fifth win from 10 starts.

The concluding race, the second division of the 12-furlong handicap, provided UK trainer Mark Johnston with a first Carnival winner as top-weight Scott's View finished strongly under Stanley Chin to land the spoils. A 5-year-old gelded son of Selkirk, he had clearly benefited from his recent Carnival debut and he made up a lot of ground in the final half furlong when continually denied a run.

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