Niconero Looking for Duty Free Victory
Date Posted: 3/24/2009 11:41:01 AM
Last Updated: 3/26/2009 5:55:17 PM

Niconero worked March 24 to prepare for the Dubai Duty Free.
Photo: Courtesy of Dubai Racing Club

(edited Dubai Racing Club report)

Jockey Craig Williams partnered Niconero in his work the morning of March 24 to prepare for the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) and reported the 7-year-old was in good shape.

"He felt great and I was really happy with the way he looked compared to last year (here),” Williams said. “He worked strongly over seven furlongs on the turf, and was lovely and relaxed. He feels like he's not far off being well and truly acclimatized.

"He's eating better than he did last year and he does look good. Perhaps last year's trip might have hardened him up given how well he's raced at home lately. It's important he draws a good barrier. If that happens then I'm sure that, at the very least, he will figure prominently on Saturday night."

Fellow Australian Dubai Duty Free contender Tuesday Joy cantered two laps of the turf track under the watchful eye of Gai Waterhouse's travelling foreman David Meijer.

"I know her well and she looks good to me,” he said. “I've looked after all the horses from this family who've been through Gai's stable and you get to know their traits. This mare has really blossomed here and there's no doubt she's settled in as well as you could possibly expect. I think she's ready to run to her best but I just hope the ground isn't too firm.”
 
In an ideal world, Luca Cumani would have liked the Dubai Duty Free to be over 2000 meters (about 1.2 miles), but the Newmarket trainer still feels his much-improved colt Presvis, who is leapfrogging from handicaps to group I races, is capable of holding his own against the best in the $5 million contest.

Explaining why he opted for the Dubai Duty Free over the Dubai Sheema Classic, Cumani said, “I had no choice really–it was a case of either going up two furlongs or down a furlong. The deciding factor was the fact we could have Ryan (Moore) for the Dubai Duty Free, whereas he is claimed for Spanish Moon in the Dubai Sheema Classic, which would leave us looking for a new jockey.

“Ryan has believed in Presvis since he won the John Smith’s Heritage Handicap at Newbury on him by seven lengths last September, and the horse has confirmed that improvement since he came out to Dubai.

“He won really impressively here last time, despite the fact that he had suffered a tiny abscess in his foot leading up to the race, and, though this is a giant step up in class, he deserves a shot at the big one.”

Japanese champion filly Vodka galloped more than 800 meters (about a half mile) and zipped home for the last furlong in :11.2 as she prepared for the Dubai Duty Free.

“She looked in top form as she galloped today,” said jockey Yutaka. “Her training has been done well since her last race here at Nad Al Sheba, and there seems no concern about her condition. Her last run when she was fifth in the Jebel Hatta Daaher (UAE-II) was not satisfactory, but it was a good race and good preparation for Saturday’s race.”

“She has become stronger than she was when running in this race last year,” added trainer Katsuhiko Sumii. “All the runners in this field are good horses, and an inside position on the turf track must be the place to be, so I hope she can get a good position on the rail and get a smooth. I hope to draw a middle position.

“She has taken on the colts many times in her past races, so we have no hesitation in doing so again.”

Trainer Michael De Kock has won the Dubai Duty Free twice in the past and saddles both Archipenko and Bankable this year, who have won their only starts of the campaign to date.

Archipenko was third in the Dubai Duty Free last year and Kevin Shea maintains the partnership which won the Zabeel Mile earlier this campaign, with Murtagh on Bankable who was the impressive winner of a handicap.

“Archipenko was arguably unlucky last year and has been a revelation since, winning in the U.K. and Hong Kong,” said De Kock. “He would have needed that comeback run and has been pleasing us since.
“Bankable has some good form in the UK and we were delighted with his win. It is a tough race, but both should go well.”

Trainer Julio Canani, a familiar presence on Dubai World Cup Day since 1999, is back again this year, and he said this time he might have winner on his hands in Dubai Duty Free contender Hyperbaric, who enters off a four-race winning streak. Two of those wins came in graded company in California.
The 6-year-old has not run since winning the Citation Handicap (gr. I) at Hollywood Park last November.

Canani said he is not worried about the time in between starts because the gelding has been in training since his last race, and has run well following longer periods between races.

Hyperbaric didn’t campaign as a 4-year-old because of soreness in a knee. As a result, owner Prestonwood Farm opted to give Hyperbaric time off on the farm.

“Actually, he was only supposed to go to the farm for three months, but I forgot about him and he ended up staying there a year,” Canani said with a laugh. “That was probably the best thing that ever happened to him. While he was there, he was gelded. He was aggressive before that.”

On March 24, Hyperbaric galloped once around the main dirt track. With his ears pricked as he passed the grandstand, Hyperbaric was clearly curious in his new surroundings.

Strolling serenely on to the track the morning of March 24 was 2007 Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) winner Kip Deville, who came to a stop and stood like a statue. Gazing around Nad Al Sheba, the big gray looked as if he had not a care in the world and was certainly not concerned about his impending workout.

When he decided he was ready, Kip Deville ambled off leisurely before picking up a trot and eventually a rolling canter. When assistant trainer and exercise rider Michelle Nevin asked him, the 6-year-old son of Kipling strode through 800 meters in a fluid manner, getting an official time of 600 meters (about .37 miles) in :36.8 and 400 meters (about a quarter mile) in :23.9.

“We just wanted to open up his lungs a little bit,” Nevin said. “He was nice and comfortable out there.”

Although Kip Deville’s race is on turf, Nevin worked him on the dirt, a pattern trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. also has followed frequently in the United States.

As to his standing and peering around before his workout, Nevin said that is typical behavior for the veteran of five racing seasons.

“He stands for a long time every morning,” she said. “He only does what he wants to do—and when he wants to do it.”

Since he has won four grade I races in his career and has earned $3,319,614, Kip Deville has earned the right to keep on doing what he likes to do. 

ESPN360.com will have exclusive online live coverage of the Dubai World Cup from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. ET
 



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