Trainer Brett Crawford describes his profession as one in which "the lows are really low, but the highs are exceptional".
With his stable in fourth place in the national trainers’ log, this is far from a "low" season for the 46-year-old, but he is understandably perplexed by the loss of form in Dubai of his 2017 Sun Met winner Whisky Baron.
The Aussie-bred was expected to run a big race in the grade1 Jebel Hatta, but finished unplaced. Mike de Kock’s dual Guineas winner Janoobi ran a creditable third and now heads for the Dubai Turf on World Cup night (March 31).
Crawford had been optimistic of a good performance as Whisky Baron had been working well. So the Zimbabwean-born trainer has decided on a new plan for Whisky Baron: he will not run him on Dubai World Cup night but will rather aim his charge at the Queen Elizabeth Cup in Hong Kong on April 29.
Aiming for Hong Kong will give Whisky Baron another four weeks to recapture his form.
One man who is headed for the big Dubai meeting is South African champion jockey Anthony Delpech, who has been engaged by De Kock to partner Al Sahem in the Gold Cup. Delpech, who rode Al Sahem to victory in last season’s SA Derby, said: "I’m so grateful to Mike de Kock for the opportunity. There are so many others he could have given the ride to. Al Sahem’s last run looked quite promising and he’s shown that he is finding his feet there now so I’m excited to be riding him."
Successful on Our Shining Star at the Vaal on Tuesday, Delpech returns to the Free State course on Thursday when he has three rides for De Kock and one for Lucky Houdalakis.
The pick of the De Kock trio is likely to be the Captain Al filly Fragrant Miss, who takes on 15 rivals in the first leg of the Pick 6. De Kock brings the four-year-old back to 1,200m after finishing unplaced in a 1,700m race last time out.
Both Pretty Penny and Mill Creek will have their supporters following promising debuts, and punters will have to monitor the market to see if there is any support for De Kock’s Aussie-bred newcomer Alnasl.
Cals Crush won in good style for Sean Tarry on Tuesday and that win is a pointer to Shifting Shadows’s chance in Thursday’s sixth race. The Byword filly from Grant Maroun’s yard finished a close-up fifth behind this winner on her latest appearance.
Lyle Hewitson, who rides Shifting Shadows, can expect a strong challenge from jockey Keagan de Melo on Paul Peter’s runner Moss Gas. The four-year-old has been placed in each of his last four outings.
Trainer Geoff Woodruff scored with Al Danza at Tuesday’s meeting and his Go Deputy filly Insignis makes plenty of appeal on her handicap debut in the eighth race. The three-year-old is drawn in pole position and can beat home Circle Of Latitude and Waity Katie who is bidding to complete a four-timer.
Some choicely bred juvenile fillies will make their debuts in the second race with Delpech booked for the Philanthropist filly Heaven’s Reward.
Other choicely bred newcomers include a daughter of Dynasty from Alec Laird’s stable, a daughter of Carlton Horse trained by Ormond Ferraris and a daughter of Var from the De Kock yard.