Ken Nicol: Whisky Baron makes his Dubai debut in the headlining Group 2 Zabeel Mile (turf) on Thursday night (1850 SA time), and also has a new pilot in Irishman Colm O’Donoghue.
The highly respected 37 year old has been connected with Aiden O’Brien’s Ballydoyle outfit for many years, and will partner the 2017 Sun Met winner for the duration of his Dubai campaign.
Trainer Brett Crawford is in Dubai for the race, but the chances are Whisky Baron may need the run somewhat after last appearing in September.
South Africa has a very strong representation in this race, as Mike De Kock fields the impressive duo of Noah From Goa and Janoobi. Both come into this with decent form at this year’s carnival, and have to be given plenty of respect.
The Zabeel Mile is usually a good pointer to the $5 Million Dubai Turf on world cup night, and as usual is sure to be an extremely hotly contested affair.
De Kock also unleashes a couple of big guns in the supporting feature. The Group 3 Dubai Millenium Stakes(turf) over 2000m is off 35 minutes earlier, and last year’s Vodacom July runner up Al Sahem represents the yard, as well as Light The Lights.
Al Sahem trailed in last on his Meydan debut three weeks ago, but is obviously way better than that. O’Donoghue rides this one as well.
Light The Lights is far more established in these parts, having won at last year’s carnival, and also a Handicap here last month. Long established De Kock jockey Christophe Soumillon is aboard.
Another runner who will provoke local interest in this race is Gilt Complex, with Bernard Fayd’herbe up. Trained by Singapore based Australian Cliff Brown, the six-year-old gelding won both the Gold Cup and Raffles Cup back home late last year, but flopped on his debut here.
Speaking from Dubai on Wednesday Fayd’herbe said that “he is doing well and has improved in his work. We expect a hugely better showing”. A little known fact is that Fayd’herbe rode winners for Brown during a previous stint in Singapore, so they are not exactly a virgin combination.
Another Singapore based conditioner Stephen Gray has given him the ride on Newlands in the last, and the tall heavyweight is making the most of whatever opportunities he receives while over there.