South African Champ Tops U.A.E. Classic Trial

South African Champ Tops U.A.E. Classic Trial
Photo: Dubai Racing Club
Soft Falling Rain

Trainer Mike de Kock’s undefeated South African champion Soft Falling Rain tops a full field of 14, along with four also-eligible contenders, entered for the $110,000 Dubai Duty Free Jumeirah Creekside United Arab Emirates Two Thousand Guineas Trial Jan. 17 at Meydan.

The 1,400-meter race and the $50,000 fillies’ equivalent at the same distance earlier on the card are warm-ups for the U.A.E Two Thousand Guineas (UAE-III) on Feb. 14 and the listed U.A.E. One Thousand Guineas on Feb. 7.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum’s National Academy colt, deemed South Africa’s Equus champion 2-year-old last season, has a perfect record from four career starts and will be making his first start in nearly nine months. In his most recent outing, he scored a sparkling 4 1/2-length victory over subsequent group I winners The Hangman and Warhorse in the South African Nursery Stakes (SAf-I) last April at Turffontein.

Soft Falling Rain will shoulder 136 pounds, conceding his rivals from six to 16 pounds. He also will stretch out beyond about five furlongs and try an all-weather surface for the first time in his career.

"I'm very confident he will go on the all-weather,” de Kock said. “My only concern is whether he will get the distance as the farthest he's run so far has been just over five furlongs in South Africa.

"He's out of a Giant's Causeway   mare (Gardener's Delight), which gives me reason to hope that he might step up, but he's a very nice horse and we always have the plan B which will be to pursue a program over a shorter distance or we can get him on the grass and see. We plan to campaign him for the Guineas if all goes well."

Godolphin has entered four runners: Timoneer, who is stakes-placed on turf in England, and Filfil, I’m Back, and Snowboarder, all of whom are winners on all-weather tracks in England.

The Jan. 17 card also includes the Dubai Duty Free Gold World Cup U.A.E. One Thousand Guineas Trial, which drew 10 entrants, including My Special J's, winner of the 2012 Keeneland Debutante Stakes (Ire-II) last summer at the Curragh. The Harlan's Holiday filly is trained by Paul Shanahan for owners Michael Ziegler and Thistle Bloodstock.

The day's final race, a 2,410-meter (about 1 1/2-mile) turf handicap features Indian star mare In the Spotlight, who will try to prove her talent on the international stage against 15 male opponents.

The 5-year-old by Alnasr Alwasheek, has won nine of her 10 previous starts. Overall, she has 11 wins, a second, and two thirds from 15 starts and $1,055,082 in career earnings. Her record victories in six of her country's classics, most recently the Indian St. Leger by 7 1/2 lengths in September in her last start. She is trained by Sadakshara Padmanabhan for owners Zavaray Poonawalla and Jamshed J. Appoo.

For free past performance data, visit www.amwestentertainment.com.

Trainer Mike de Kock discusses a list of horses he has in the Dubai Carnival. The second horse he talks about is Soft Falling Rain.

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