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by Handicappers / Globeform
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Mushreq is an interesting contender for the Dubai Duty Free (G1). This Hamdan Al Maktoum owned gelding, bred by Shadwell Stud Australasia Ltd., will be going into the race off his career best effort, and he could turn out to be trainer Mike de Kock's best chance of landing the $5 million turf contest. de Kock won this race with Ipi Tombe ten years ago and his Right Approach ran a dead-heat with Paolini in the 2004 edition.

Mushreq is an improving older horse, who really has blossomed at this year's Carnival. After having been a smart performer South Africa, he has now moved up a notch and, although not quite there yet, he is beginning to look like an international Group One player. It is not at all uncommon for thoroughbreds to improve as four and five-year-olds, if given the chance to develop. Mushreq was foaled on September 7, 2008 and he is thus four, though northern hemisphere databases show him as five.

He made his debut in May 2011, winning a maiden over 1200 metres, and three starts later he was runner-up in Group One company. In January 2012, Mushreq ran fifth in the Cape Derby (G1) over 2000 metres at Kenilworth, beaten 6 ¾ lengths by the classy winner, Jackson, who has since also captured the Daily News 2000 (G1) and finished second in the Queen's Plate (G1). Mushreq was keeping good company when racing in South Africa, that's for sure.

He has had four starts at the Dubai International Racing Carnival, and won twice. Judged on his most recent outing, when he slammed Master Of Hounds by 3 ¼ lengths in the Al Fahidi Fort (G2), he is in with a good chance in the Duty Free. The Al Fahidi Fort was run over 1600 metres and the Duty Free is contested over 1800 metres but this extension in distance will not bother Mushreq's supporters, as he has won over 2000 metres at Meydan this season and also won over 1800 metres in South Africa.

His regular pilot Paul Hanagan had him in the middle of the field early on in the Al Fahidi Fort, and when he asked Mushreq to go 500 metres from the winning post, the response was a very positive one. The Australian bred son of Flying Spur gradually worked his way up to the leaders. He hit the front inside the last 200 metres and then quickened up well for a comfortable win. This was his fourth win from 15 starts and also his best performance to date. Mushreq was carrying 1,5kg less than Master Of Hounds but he would of course have beaten him also at level weights. Third and fourth places were filled by Igazu Falls and Musir. Mike de Kock also trains the runner-up Master Of Hounds and Musir, who went on to take second behind Trade Storm in the Zabeel Mile (G2) next time out.

The South African champion trainer holds a particularly strong hand in this division. He also has names like Igugu, Await The Dawn and The Apache to choose from regarding a Duty Free challenge, and it is quite likely that he will reroute at least a couple of these horses to other races, like the Sheema Classic or even the World Cup itself. His words after Mushreq's win, «it is important to get him to the Duty Free», were therefore quite significant.

Mushreq's mother, Alharir, is a daughter of Melbourne Cup (G1) winner Jeune, and his father Flying Spur has sired numerous Group class performers, including Main Stakes (G1) winner Mentality, Hong Kong Sprint (G1) winner Firebolt, Coolmore Classic (G1) winner Alverta and Galaxy Handicap (G1) winner Magnus. Flying Spur, who was pensioned at the age of 20 last year, was an outstanding runner who won six races at two and three, including three Group Ones; the Golden Slipper Stakes, Australian Guineas and All Aged Stakes.

Published: 2013-03-07 12:16:24

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