Whisky Baron Jebel Hatta preview, for Crawford Racing
- Mark van Deventer -
It’s been a lengthy adventure, at times, unfortunately, something of an ordeal, to get Whisky Baron to the intended target of contesting an international class Group 1 race. On Saturday, he’ll get that opportunity when taking part in the Jebel Hatta over 1800m at Meydan. Whisky Baron is drawn 9/11 and will carry 57kg’s with Colm O Donoghue riding.
Speaking ahead of the big showdown, trainer Brett Crawford stated, “The prep has been really good and I was pleased with his gallop on Saturday. He followed up Tuesday with outstanding work on the sand and now looks a picture. He’s definitely come on from that run in the Zabeel Mile.”
Whisky Baron faces a significant challenge. The field of 11 have won 48 races between them, with only two (Rodaini and Eqtiraan) having Racing Post Ratings of less than 120. Whisky Baron sports a RPR of 120 and an official mark of 118.
There was much to like about his try in a Grade 2 over a Mile at Meydan on the 22nd February. In his first attempt since a Newmarket outing in late September 2017, he finished a staying- on fourth, three lengths off fellow South African, Janoobi. His conqueror has a sterling record over 1600m using pace-pressing tactics, though Crawford must be hopeful that his charge can reverse the form over an extra furlong.
Whisky Baron has a career record of six wins from 14 starts with five places. He really came into his own upon being gelded – a successful Summer season culminated in winning the 2017 SunMet, before embarking on this arduous overseas campaign. He will need to be at his absolute peak to ward off a posse of intimidating challengers and Brett is under no illusions, acknowledging, “This is Group 1 racing at its best, with a number of Godolphin horses in with great form.”
Crawford is referring to the consistent Benbatl who has already won twice at Meydan this year under Oisin Murphy and is assessed with the field’s highest RPR of 129. Other Godolphin entries include Folkswood (William Buick for Charlie Appleby) who beat off the Street Cry chestnut colt, Leshlaa in a nip and tuck finish over 2000m at Meydan. Both attained RPR’s of 128, so they are also formidable rivals. To further boost Benbatl and Leshlaa’s credentials – they’re trained by Saeed bin Suroor who is sending it with a 23% strike rate and returning a 71.74 profit to a level stake.
Promising Run and GM Hopkins are amongst others with high RPR’s, so, realistically it’s a daunting task. Yet, Brett is satisfied with the well-being of Whisky Baron and, though most respectful of the opposition, is predicting, “a very competitive run.”
Supporters of the “Baron” and Crawford Racing will be urging the son of Manhattan Rain on down the Meydan straight come Saturday, to see how the Kieswetter brothers’ hero stacks up against top UAE based performers ahead of a possible World Cup night engagement later in March.