Saturday’s seven-race card is the latter half of a 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival double header this weekend at Meydan Racecourse, highlighted by the Balanchine (G2) and Firebreak Stakes (G3).
Each race is worth US$200,000 and respectively could have Dubai World Cup implications.
Restricted to fillies and mares and on turf, the 1800m Balanchine Sponsored by Azizi Developments has attracted a field of eight, six of whom contested the 1600m Group 2 Cape Verdi three weeks ago.
That was won in style by Godolphin’s Promising Run (post 6, Patrick Cosgrave), a fifth winner in the first of the carnival’s two fillies and mares’ contests for Saeed bin Suroor.
The trainer has won the Balanchine three times and twice with runners who had previously landed the Cape Verdi – a double which has been completed four times.
A 5-year-old, Promising Run also won the Al Rashidiya (G2) last year, over Saturday’s 1800m course and distance and is also a Group race winner in both England and Turkey.
She will have to overcome a penalty here, but looks the one to beat under Pat Cosgrave.
“She has been working very well since her win in the Cape Verdi and has improved during the three weeks between races,” bin Suroor said.
“She is a really popular horse in the yard and has won five times for us in three different countries.
“Hopefully she can add to our good record in the Balanchine, which includes a win with Sajjhaa in 2013.
“She was a real star that year, also winning the Cape Verdi as well as Group One races, the Jebel Hatta on Super Saturday and Dubai Turf on World Cup night,” bin Suroor continued.
“It would be nice if Promising Run could achieve something similar.”
From England, Opal Tiara (post 2, Silvestre De Sousa) won the Balanchine last year for Mick Channon and will bid to become the first dual winner of the race.
Second in the 2017 Cape Verdi, she was fourth in this year’s renewal, having already filled the same position behind another Godolphin horse Benbatl, in the Singspiel Stakes (G3) over this 1800m course and distance.
Silvestre de Sousa has ridden her in both starts this season and maintains the partnership.
“She ran very well in the Singspiel and this 1800m suits her better than the 1600m of the Cape Verdi,” De Sousa said.
“She seems in good form and should go well with Promising Run looking the one to beat.”
Third in the Cape Verdi was Aljuljalah (post 8, Mickael Barzalona), staying on well and pleasing trainer Salem bin Ghadayer in the process.
“She is a mare we really like and that was only her fourth start for us,” bin Ghadayer said.
“It was a very good run and suggested the extra 200m on Saturday will suit her.”
Earlier in the night’s third race, six will go to post in a key Godolphin Mile (G2) prep, the 1600m Firebreak Stakes Sponsored by Azizi Developments.
Heavy Metal (post 3, Mickael Barzalona) tops the lot on recent form and is seeking his seventh victory on the Meydan dirt and sixth over this 1600m.
Penalised for his 1600m Al Maktoum Challenge R1 (G2) victory on the first night of the carnival, the 8-year-old is back in action quickly after finishing third in last week’s 1900m Al Maktoum Challenge R2 (G2).
Bin Ghadayer, who also saddles dirt debutant Richard Pankhurst (post 5, Xavier Ziani), said: “Heavy Metal is one of the best horses in the yard and probably found the trip a bit far last week, he should go close.
“Richard Pankhurst is having just his third run for us and first on dirt.
“His work on it has been good, so hopefully he will handle it.”
Another trying dirt for the first time is Godolphin’s Bravo Zolo (post 1, William Buick), trained by Charlie Appleby.
Second on the first night of the carnival in a 1400m handicap, he was then third in the 1800m Al Rashidiya (G2).
“He has run well twice this year but we really think 1600m is his optimum trip so this looked a good chance to try him on the dirt,” Appleby.
“He works well enough on it so if he takes to it, he should be a major player on his best form.”
Proven on the dirt, and a course and distance winner for trainer Doug Watson, Cosmo Charlie (post 4, Sam Hitchcott) is having his first start since being gelded.
He won the 1900m Al Bastakiya (Listed), a race restricted to 3-year-olds and the middle leg of the UAE Triple Crown on Super Saturday last year.
“Hopefully gelding him will help him relax, as he could get a bit worked up at the races,” Watson said.
“We are drawn outside Heavy Metal who I assume will want to lead, so we may try and track him through.
“We are pleased with him at home, so hopefully he is going to be competitive in a tough little race.”
The Dubai Equestrian Club will hold a unique FEI Endurance CEI2* 120km ride on Wednesday, November 15 based on the concept of a staggered start.
This is the first of its kind for a CEI2* 120km event worldwide, and will be conducted at the purpose-built Dubai International Endurance City.
Usually FEI rides feature a mass start, where all participants leave together, and the first to finish is declared winner. In this case flexibility is key and the riders will be allowed to start within a broad window spanning across almost two hours, at their own convenience.
The advantage of a staggered start is also that riders are able to ride alone or with a preferred group and therefore are able to pace themselves, which allows for optimal performance.
Over 400 entries have been received for this FEI-CEI2* 120 km ride. The horses will be examined on the same morning at 6:00 and following registration the riders and horses will be able to embark upon the 120km ride according to the official timings.
With a total of four loops, the first is 40km, the second is 35km, the third 27km, and the final loop is 18km.
DEC General manager Mohammed Essa said “We are pleased to offer riders and horse connections this unique and wonderful opportunity to compete in an FEI – CEI2* 120km ride, where they compete in the best possible conditions, offering great flexibility despite having a pretty large field of over 400 competitors.
“Our effort is to accommodate large number of participants with no restrictions in terms of entering as long as they fulfil the eligibility conditions. This encourages extraordinary performances, and helps the horse rider pairings to produce some top-class timings.
“We are constantly striving to provide our riders and horses with better facilities and opportunities to help grow the sport of endurance riding, and set the standard locally and on the global stage. This is one step in that direction.”
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, honored the first batch of the Masar Godolphin programme at a ceremony at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai.
The event was attended by the Crown Prince of Dubai, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Speaking at the event, Joe Osborne, Group Chief Executive for Godolphin, said: “Masar Godolphin represents yet another demonstration of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed’s enduring passion for horse breeding and racing, and his continued commitment to the creation of a sustainable future for both the industry and the individuals involved in it.”
“This inaugural cohort experienced every aspect of horse racing and breeding in both Europe and the UAE, preparing them incredibly well for a future in this most exciting and demanding business. The quality of academia, horsemanship and personal development required to complete the programme was of the highest order.”
Ali Al Ali, Head of Masar Godolphin, said: “Their graduation was the final step in a nine-month journey, which provided eight outstanding and ambitious UAE nationals with a unique and unrivalled opportunity to embrace their equestrian heritage, with the aim of becoming the business leaders of the future.”
“In tandem with the development of their equine knowledge and skills, the trainees were given the opportunity to visit some of the UK’s leading sporting and professional organisations in the pursuit of developing their leadership, management and teamwork skills. It has been a tough but fulfilling nine months and I could not be prouder of the Fursan.”
The event was also attended by His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum; Minister of Cabinet Affairs and Future and Chairman Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi; Director- General of the Department of Protocol and Hospitality in Dubai, H.E. Khalifa Saeed Suleiman; Irish Ambassador, HE Paul Kavanagh; Partners, and family and friends of the graduating interns.
For more information about Masar Godolphin please visit www.godolphin.com/masar