Gulf News sponsor Thursday's third meeting of the 2011 Dubai International Racing Carnival and their headline writers are likely to be given plenty of ammunition with both Saeed bin Suroor and Mike De Kock one winner away from milestones.
The most successful Carnival trainer, bin Suroor is seeking his 100th winner at the annual racing extravaganza, while South African de Kock, second to bin Suroor in the Carnival statistics, is on 99 UAE winners. It will be a major surprise if at least one does not bring up their century.
They both have leading contenders in the featured 1800m Al Rashidiya, a Group Two contest on the Turf over the same course and distance as the Group One Dubai Duty Free on Dubai World Cup night.
Bin Suroor, who won this last year with Alexandros, has already saddled the big race winners on the first two nights of the Carnival and relies on Caymans, a Group Two winner in his native Australia but well beaten on his one start in the UK. Bin Suroor said: "He did disappoint in England but that was on very heavy ground and the Meydan surface will be much more to his liking. He is in good form and I am hopeful."
De Kock also has a good record in the race and is looking to win it for a fourth time. He saddles South African Horse of the Year Irish Flame who has to give weight to all his 12 rivals. He said: "The horse is in great form but has to concede weight over a trip short of his best. He should run well but I am hopeful as opposed to confident."
Steele Tango was a course and distance winner in a handicap on the first night of the Carnival and Ted Durcan takes the ride. He said: "It is a great spare ride and the horse seems to have thrived in Dubai. He did it well last time but this is obviously a better race."
Durcan rides him because Ryan Moore who was in the saddle a fortnight ago, rides Presvis for Luca Cumani. A Carnival winner in each of the last two years, Cumani's charge has a touch of class but assistant trainer Charlie Henson said: "He is in good form at home but has not raced since June and is certain to improve from the run."
They represent the UK, as does Bushman, trained by David Simcock and set to be ridden by Jamie Spencer and completes a strong challenge from England.
It appears a very competitive renewal with Mahmood Al Zarooni duo Sea Lord and Frozen Power both appearing to have chances. Ahmed Ajtebi elects to partner Sea Lord and said: "It was not an easy choice and both should run well. They ran on Tapeta last time and will much prefer this return to grass."
Five handicaps and one conditions race complete the all Thoroughbred card with all eyes on Messrs bin Suroor and de Kock as they seek to complete their respective milestones.