Balanchine makes it a ladies night

Friday’s meeting at Meydan is sponsored by Southern Oil and Gas and the seven-race Dubai World Cup Carnival card is highlighted by the Group 2 Balanchine Stakes, a 1800m turf contest restricted to fillies and mares.

First City made a winning local debut for last season’s champion trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe in the Cape Verdi Stakes (over 1600m last month) when she defeated the Mike De Kock-trained duo of Mahbooba and Reem who are again in opposition. Group 1-placed in the UK when trained by British handler David Simcock, First City led close home in the Cape Verdi on her first Meydan start with Royston Ffrench in the saddle as he is on Friday.

Ffrench said: “The extra 200m should not be a problem as she has been placed over 1800m in England. We thought she would run well last time but also expected her to improve from the run so hopefully she can build on that win but she has to give weight away this time which makes the task harder obviously.”

De Kock won this race last year when River Jetez denied stable companion Reem and the South African is seeking his fifth win in the race only introduced to the UAE calendar in 2004. Mahbooba was very impressive on her seasonal return in the Al Rashidiya Trial over the same 1800m on turf before her defeat behind First City in the Cape Verdi. Runner-up in this race last year, Reem was a good third in the Cape Verdi and de Kock is looking forward to taking on First City again. The trainer said: “We were delighted with Mahbooba’s first run back when she won impressively but the Cape Verdi really did not go her way with no pace and she had to try and make the running. The extra 200m in the Balanchine will definitely suit her and she should go very close although First City is a good filly. Reem seems better on turf these days and hopefully she will run a big race as well.”

Godolphin rely on local debutante Dysphonia, trained by Saeed bin Suroor and Group 1-placed in her native Australia. This will be her first start since October and her trainer said: “She is a mare we like and has been working very well. Whatever she achieves on Friday there should be more to come as she will certainly improve for the run.”

The Purebred Arabians take their chance on the Meydan all-weather track in the Group 2 Bani Yas over 1400m. Thirteen have been declared with the Gill Duffield-trained AF Alghabra looking to hold a big chance.

Doug Watson trains Kandar Du Falgas who was beaten by Duffield’s charge last time they clashed and the 1400m may be on the sharp side for Watson’s ten-year-old veteran.

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