De Kock Lands Al Rashidiya with The Apache
The Apache, a South African champion from trainer Mike de Kock's Dubai raiding party, got an ideal stalking trip under Christophe Soumillon to win the $200,000 Al Rashidiya sponsored by DUBAL (UAE-II) Jan. 31 at Meydan.
Making his first start in a year and first for de Kock and owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum, the 5-year-old by Mogok gamely charged between horses in the stretch to snatch the lead. He repelled a bid from Sharestan, then held back a strong outside charge from last year's runner-up City Style to win by three-quarters of a length.
The Apache tracked from second, then third, as pacesetter Do It All opened a clear lead early, and he was ready to roll when Soumillon asked him to run. He dispatched Derbaas, who led at the 600-meter mark and had stamina in reserve, to power on to the finish as City Style made a bold run after racing near the back of the field.
The Apache was timed in 1:49.68 for 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) on turf to win as the 5-to-1 second wagering choice in North American pools hosted by Kentucky-based simulcast company AmWest Entertainment. The Al Rashidiya is a steppingstone to the $5 million Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) at the same distance on Dubai World Cup night March 30.
A two-time group I winner in South Africa, where he was the champion 3-year-old male of 2011, The Apache had not started in a year since finishing sixth, two lengths behind winner Igugu in the J&B Met (SAf-I), for former trainer Gavin van Zyl last January at Kenilworth in South Africa.
"He was working very well in the morning," Soumillon said of the bay horse who won the 2011 Daily News Greyville 2,000 (SAf-I) and Champions Cup (SAf-I). "He's not a very big horse so he doesn't need too many races in his working. We are quite confident. It was a test run; there were so many good horses in this race."
With the Al Rashidiya win, The Apache's record improved to seven wins, two seconds, and third from 16 starts.
"This horse is a good horse," said de Kock, who won three races on the card. "He's not near peak fitness; he'll improve, so he had a fantastic run. We are proud of him."
De Kock has been leading international trainer at the Dubai World Cup Carnival seven times. His arsenal of South African runners this season includes Horse of the Year Igugu and unbeaten champion Soft Falling Rain, who won a trial for the United Arab Emirates Two Thousand Guineas Jan. 17.
City Style, who finished second to Musir in last year's edition of the race, had to settle for the runner-up spot once again, finishing 2 1/4 lengths clear of Sharestan. The 1-to-2 favorite after winning the trial for the Al Rashidiya Jan. 10, Sharestan was in tight quarters with 500 meters left to run but rallied strongly and momentarily threatened before finishing third.
Bred in South Africa by Scott Bros, The Apache is out of the Dolpour mare Apache Rose. He sold to previous owner Winston Chow for 80,000 rands at the 2009 Emperor's Palace National yearling sale.
In the evening's third race, de Kock's South African sprint star Shea Shea did not fare as well after nine months without a race, finishing a well beaten seventh as the 6-to-5 favorite behind Medicean Man, who won by three-quarters of a length in a 31-to-1 upset in the 1,000-meter (about five-furlong) turf handicap.
Ridden by Harry Bentley for trainer Jeremy Gask, the 7-year-old Medicean gelding was slow to hit his stride. But once in gear, he spurted through a gap as the field fanned across the course and seized the lead 300 meters out to prevail over 7-to-2 second favorite Russian Soul. He snapped a 13-race winless skid dating to a victory in July 2011 at Ascot, but he has competed against England's top sprinters, finishing fourth in the 2012 King's Stand Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot.
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