South Africa trainer Mike de Kock is assembling a very powerful team for the 2005 Dubai International Racing Carnival as he bids to repeat his success of last year. At that inaugural Carnival, de Kock's horses won nine times and about £1.9 million in the process, as well as a $50,000 bonus for the trainer as leading Carnival handler. USA's Team Valor, who campaigned both Ipi Tombe and Crimson Palace in the UAE, have purchased Italian juvenile Becrux specifically for this season's Carnival. He looks an exciting recruit, though his new trainer has only just met him. "My assistants told me he was a big, strong, handsome horse and they were right," de Kock said. "He has a dirt pedigree and will be aimed at the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) after Dubai if he is good enough."The winner of his first four starts, the son of Glen Jordan suffered his only defeat on appalling ground in the Grand Criterium (Fr-I). De Kock first came to prominence in the UAE in 2003 when saddling Victory Moon to win both the UAE Two Thousand Guineas (UAE-III) and Derby (UAE-II), as well as the Team Valor's legendary Ipi Tombe to win the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I). She was sold, in foal to Sadler's Wells, at Tattersalls on Tuesday for 850,000gns. Remarkably, de Kock repeated that World Cup night double last year, courtesy of Lundy's Liability (Derby) and Right Approach who dead-heated in the Duty Free. In fact, when de Kock's Victory Moon was third in the World Cup (UAE-I) itself earlier this year, it was the first time he saddled a World Cup night runner who was beaten. Victory Moon has recently been retired to stud in his native land where he will stand at Main Chance Farm in Robertson on the Western Cape. This season's Carnival, which starts on January 20 and consists of 11 meetings, culminating in the Dubai World Cup on March 26, offers $26million in prize money. De Kock is intent on winning his share again. His first batch of horses have been safely berthed in grandstand stables at Nad Al Sheba for the best part of a month, with a second group due to fly out next week.
Due to quarantine complications following the outbreak of African Horse Sickness in the Western Cape earlier this year, the horses have arrived in Dubai having spent 40 days in isolation in Mauritius, 30 days in the UK, before completing their journey via Copenhagen. On arrival in Dubai they were quarantined for six days. "I cannot wait to get there," declared the trainer as he left South Africa earlier this week and it is easy to see why when you look at the team he has at his disposal. The group is headed by 2004 South African Horse of the Year Yard-Arm, who will be joined by fellow group I winners Greys Inn and Wolf Whistle, as well as last year's champion juvenile Candidato Roy. Such is de Kock's record that fellow South African trainer Geoff Woodruff, who enjoyed no luck in Dubai last season, has agreed to let his duo of Yard-Arm and Candidato Roy join the de Kock raiding party.With champion sprinter Key of Destiny, promising filly Emerald Beauty and 3-year-old colts Otter Trail and Grand Emporium as well as Team Valor's Becrux set to run, it is possible that the trainer will have a runner in every race on Dubai World Cup night.