It is testament to the Mike de Kock way of doing things that potential South African superstar Noah From Goa takes his chance in Thursday’s Grade 2 Al Fahidi Fort at Meydan Racecourse.
Noah From Goa has not raced for 12 months, and the son of Tiger Ridge has had to endure a torrid time simply to get to Dubai to line up against seven others in the US$250,000 (Dh918,050) contest staged over 1,400 metres.
Like many of his former stablemates, Noah From Goa has had to undergo months of quarantine in South Africa, Mauritius and England but, finally, there could well be another way out of his homeland soon.
Derek Brugman is the racing manager for the Jooste family, who campaigned the brilliant Variety Club under De Kock’s name to win the 2014 Godolphin Mile at Meydan.
Brugman believes he has hit upon a way to circumnavigate the dreaded route from South Africa to the UAE through Mauritius that De Kock and Herman Brown were forced to open up following the African Horse Sickness outbreak in South Africa in 2011.
Brugman plans to take up to 18 horses from the 21-day quarantine in South Africa that he hopes they start late next month direct to Newburgh in New York, where horses will be placed under lockdown for 60 days.
■ Tadhg O'Shea brings victory tally to 27 to overtake rival Richard Mullen
■ Reynaldothewizard a 'horse of a lifetime'
At the stables he intends to install a treadmill to keep the equine athletes mobile, but whether that will be satisfactory is open to question. It is estimated that if a horse remains inactive for as little as 10 days they begin to lose bone density and muscle mass.
If all goes well, the horses will be ready to be trained by an American handler from the end of May, which is before De Kock’s horses will have even entered quarantine for next season’s Carnival.
"We haven't got enough horses for the project yet," Brugman told The National from South Africa. "We're on seven at the moment."
“The climate changes from South Africa to Mauritius and then to Britain in the winter and back to Dubai in one year must have an effect on the horses, in my view. The route to America has less of a climactic effect on them, and the conditions are more favourable.
“I won’t go to Mauritius and I’m willing to take a chance. It is soul destroying and the aggravation is unnecessary but we just want to race our horses abroad.”
The plan is not flawless. Due to American regulations entire horses over two years of age need to prove their virility on arrival, which is hardly an ideal situation for a young, hot-blooded racehorse. Fillies and mares have to undergo an extra two weeks of quarantine in America, too, which means the route favours geldings. Overall, the charter flight breaks the US$500,000 barrier, too.
“I am trying to make this a South African initiative that will encourage a broad-based group to race South Africa horses abroad,” Brugman said. “It supports our industry here in South Africa and will help stimulate trade.”
So far De Kock has not signed up to the plan but the most successful international trainer in Dubai regularly targets races in the US. The L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate, won by Variety Club in 2013, and the Main Chance Farms Paddock Stakes at Kenilworth are both Breeders’ Cup Win And You’re In races, too.
Noah From Goa last raced when third to South African Hrse of the Year Legal Eagle, who is the flagship name in Brugman’s group of seven horses, in last season’s Queen’s Plate.
Noah From Goa previously had won the Grade 1 Cape Guineas at Kenilworth in tenacious style, digging deep to keep clear in a tight finish.
De Kock saddled Light The Lights to win a Listed race on the opening night of the Carnival this month on the back of a year off the track, and he has won the Al Fahidi Fort a record six times.
Turkish champion Graystorm looks a tricky customer but may be compromised from Gate 8, one outside Godolphin’s Flash Fire, who looks worthy of inclusion after his deeply impressive win in a handicap two weeks ago.
In November De Kock suggested that Noah From Goa would appear during the latter stages of the Carnival because the gelding missed 30 days in Newmarket because he had developed a bony formation on his splint bone.
It is no surprise he will need the run.
“Noah From Goa is going to improve for the outing having been off for more than a year and having endured the arduous trip to get here to Dubai,” De Kock said.
“He should run well but we expect him to progress throughout the Carnival.”
Five things to look out for at Meydan on Thursday
■ Graystorm flying the Turkish flag
The four-year-old grey won the Turkish Guineas in May and the Gazi Derby, Turkey’s most prestigious race, in June. He narrowly failed to add the country’s St Leger in September. His eclipse has not dimmed the hopes of his connections, who long for their star to become just the fifth Turkish winner at the Dubai World Cup Carnival. Owner Ahmet Guzelocak has led a passionate group over for Thursday’s feature and has appealed to social media to get behind the 28th Turkish raider since the Carnival began in 2004. “Our preparation has passed perfectly,” he said. “I am happy with our horse’s form and it gives us hope.”
■ Anaerobio reunited with Pat Cosgrave
Pat Cosgrave was fined for “improper riding” aboard Anaerobio after the 2014 Jebel Hatta. The Irish jockey refused to pay and he was later placed on the Emirates Racing Authority Forfeit List. Cosgrave finally agreed to settle the debt in December and was allowed to return to Dubai and this is the first time he will have ridden the horse in public since that day. Anaerobio won the Al Fahidi Fort for Mike de Kock three years ago.
■ Ali Rashid Al Rayhi gunning for the half century
Ali Rashid Al Rayhi needs just one more success to reach his 50th Dubai World Cup Carnival winner. He has three goes at it on Thursday. Not A Given lines up in the 6.30pm race, while Always Welcome would be an appropriate name for the landmark victory in the same race. Munaaser, gunning for his first triumph in 12 months in the 2000-metre handicap at 8.15pm, is his final dart.
■ Can Calare nip it in the bud?
Charlie Appleby’s Calare is a little like footballer Luis Suarez – she is talented but she likes to use her teeth. The daughter of Dubawi takes her chance in the UAE 1,000 Guineas Trial but spare a thought for Spanish Moon and Mabrouka, who are drawn respectively inside and outside her. In Ireland in September Calare won a Listed event over 1,600 metres on turf, but during the race she turned her head and tried to take a bite out of a rival. With Saeed bin Suroor’s Really Special looking the better proposition, it might get a little feisty out there among the fillies.
■ Magnificent Seven for Krypton Factor
Last week was all about the old stagers with Reynaldothewizard winning the Dubawi Stakes and Sole Power becoming the first horse to run at seven Carnivals. Krypton Factor will also grace his seventh Carnival on Thursday in the 1,000-metre handicap at 7.40pm, having made his bow in a 1,400-metre conditions race in 2011.
Geoffrey Riddle’s tips
■ 6.30pm – District One Trophy: Secret Ambition
■ 7.05pm – UAE 1,000 Guineas Trial: Realy Special
■ 7.40pm – Meydan Sobha Trophy: Harry Hurricane
■ 8.15pm – Meydan Meyda Sobha: Triple Nine
■ 8.50pm – Al Fahidi Fort: Noah From Goa
■ 9.25pm – District One: Giftorm
■ 10pm – District One Mansions: Oasis Fantasy
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