Top South African trainer Mike de Kock is hoping strong Dubai World Cup night performances by Janoobi and Al Sahem can convince connections to come to Sha Tin and it isn’t just the Champions Day features he is aiming at.
The trainer’s Dubai Turf entry Janoobi holds an entry for the Group One Champions Mile on April 29 but perhaps of more interest is that a big run in the Dubai Gold Cup could result in Al Sahem contesting the Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup on May 28.
Since all of Hong Kong’s Group races were opened to outsiders at the start of 2016-17 no overseas-trained horses have run in the Champions & Chater.
That could change if a solid Gold Cup finish provides enough evidence to suggest owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum should ship his four-year-old to Sha Tin for the US$10 million staying feature.
“They both have to give us that confidence,” de Kock said. “They are in some very tough races here but I think they both would do well in Hong Kong.”
Al Sahem (Anthony Delpech) looks outclassed on his three efforts since arriving with de Kock in Dubai but won the 2017 South Africa Derby and was narrowly beaten in the Group One Durban July against older horses.
“He might not look good enough but with some luck he can run top four,” de Kock said. “You see it here every year where some horses don’t look good enough but they’ve had good carnivals and they are in a good space. They might be a lesser horse than some of their rivals but being at home helps them. He has had a good carnival and he is very sound, but I think he would be very competitive over a mile and a half at Sha Tin.”
Janoobi (Jim Crowley) runs in the Dubai Turf and while de Kock is bullish about the four-year-old’s place chances he would be far more confident over 1,600m at Sha Tin should he get a chance.
“Again, he has to show us something because Sheikh Hamden [bin Rashad Al Maktoum] doesn’t travel horses much but that race looks ideal,” he said. “I think Janoobi’s best trip is a mile and I think the Sha Tin track will suit him, especially if it is firm, he likes it on top of the ground so he is tailor-made for Hong Kong.”
The Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize is also under consideration for Godolphin-trained pair Jungle Cat and Blue Point with trainer Charlie Appleby struggling to split the pair in the Group One Al Quoz Sprint.
Blue Point brought form around top European sprinters Caravaggio and Harry Angel to Dubai and was beaten a head by Ertijaal when resuming at Meydan on February 22.
The four-year-old will be well fancied stepping up to a more suitable 1,200m but Appleby is convinced his “wily veteran” Jungle Cat is capable of an upset.
“If there is a kink in Blue Point’s armour, Jungle Cat could be the one,” he said, indicating that at least one of the horses – if not both – should be on a plane to Sha Tin. “If it doesn’t happen with Blue Point, I’m pretty confident that you have Jungle Cat there,” Appleby said. “If Blue Point goes and wins how we hope he is going to, given he doesn’t have a lot of mileage on him, I see no reason why we shouldn’t go on to Hong Kong with him. If Jungle Cat runs in the top three here, we could easily have two in the race.”