The most successful international trainer on Dubai World Cup night, with a remarkable nine winners, South African Mike de Kock will saddle eight runners March 29 for this year's card, headed by Sanshaawes in the $10 million Emirates Dubai World Cup (UAE-I).
If the 5-year-old gelding is successful, he will become the trainer's first winner in the Dubai World Cup.
Already a dual Dubai World Cup Carnival winner this year, de Kock's big-race hope arguably produced a career best performance when second in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (UAE-I) at the World Cup distance of 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles) March 8 on the Super Saturday card of World Cup preps.
"That was a great effort from a bad draw," said de Kock. "We knew when he arrived in Dubai he had a win or two in him but he has excelled our expectations.
"He is in great form at home but, realistically, we would be delighted with a placed effort. Hopefully, we get a good draw this time, because we certainly didn't last time."
The trainer is set to be double handed in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I). He won the Super Saturday trial the race, the Jebel Hatta (UAE-I) over the same 1, 800-meter turf (about 1 1/8-mile) trip, with Vercingetorix, who surged past re-opposing stable companion Anaerobio about 200 meters from home.
De Kock said: "I think Anaerobio produced a career best on Super Saturday and thankfully he was received an invitation, deservedly, to run here.
"As for Vercingetorix, we basically do not know how good he is; he is lazy at home and just does enough on the racecourse. He remains unbeaten and always looks like he will win easily, but then almost stops and waits for a challenge.
"(World Cup night) will be his biggest test against the likes of The Fugue
and he will need to produce a career best."
British-based The Fugue is a multiple group I winner and runner-up in the 2013 Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT). She is trained by John Gosden.
Not surprisingly, de Kock said 2013 Al Quoz Sprint (UAE-I) winner Shea Shea
is his best hope on the card, bidding to repeat his track-record-breaking effort of 12 months ago.
As was the case last year, de Kock's crack sprinter takes his place in the starting line-up having won Super Saturday's Meydan Sprint (UAE-III) under regular jockey Christophe Soumillon and the trainer said: "He is probably our best chance on the card and arrives here at least as fit and well as last year. There are some real speedsters in the mix which, hopefully, will suit him."
Last year's Godolphin Mile (UAE-II) winner, Soft Falling Rain
, is another de Kock returnee and he had a pipe-opener in the Mahab Al Shimaal (UAE-III) on Super Saturday.
"He has really improved a lot from that return to action," said de Kock. "Ideally, I would have probably liked one more run but we plan to keep him busy in Europe this summer so we have to strike a balance."
Of his other runners, $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) contender Mars
received a positive bulletin.
"He has come on a lot from his latest run when the blinkers perhaps did not suit. We thought he ran well though and, hopefully, he will at least be competitive," said the trainer.
Trainer Mike de Kock talks about training in general and then comments on Shea Shea (SAF) and Soft Falling Rain (SAF):