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