The Group 2 Balanchine Stakes (Presented by Land Rover) has produced Group 1 performers in the past and eight smart fillies will aim to continue that tradition in Friday’s race, the feature of the Carnival’s 8th meeting.
Image courtesy (dubairacingclub.com)
Godolphin have won the last five runnings of this and look the team to beat again, with Charlie Appleby sending out With The Moonlight (pictured), who beat five of these rivals in the Group 2 Cape Verdi last time out. Her main opposition looks to be stablemate Tranquil Lady, who is a new acquisition for the stable, having won a French Group 3 for trainer Joseph O’Brien when last seen in October.
“With The Moonlight has come forward since the Cape Verdi and the step back up in distance is going to suit,” said Appleby, who has won this race four times. “She has a penalty to carry but is clear on ratings and has already won at the track this season. She looks the one they all have to beat.
Of Tranquil Lady, who sold to Godolphin for 2.7million Guineas at Tattersalls in December, he added: “This will be her first start for us, so we are on a slight learning curve, but we are confident that she will run a nice race. We will potentially see her at her best over further and this will be our first opportunity to get a handle on her ahead of the forthcoming season.”
Godolphin also hold a strong hand in the Jumeirah Fillies’ Guineas, a new race which is being run over 1600metres on turf. Saeed Bin Suroor’s Mawj has valuable track experience, having just held on over 1400metres in the Jumeirah Fillies’ Classic a month ago.
“Racing over a mile will be a new experience for her – she has plenty of speed - but we wanted to give her the chance to see if she can stay this trip,” said Bin Suroor, who is already thinking ahead to Mawj’s European campaign. “She worked nicely on Monday and looks ready to go again. It would be very good if she can get the mile, especially with future targets in mind.”
Rated just 5lbs below Mawj is Appleby’s Fairy Cross, who signed off for 2022 with a win in the Group 3 Prestige Stakes at Goodwood in August.
“Fairy Cross has physically done well out in Dubai,” said Appleby. “This was an opportunity to get a run into her out here and she will definitely come on for the outing. We are hoping that she will have a busy campaign after this, so it’s a day out before heading back to Europe.”
There are four internationals in the field, including Rise And Shine, trained in France by Hiroo Shimizu and ridden by Adrie de Vries who is realistic about her chances.
“Rise And Shine needs to find a lot to be in the prizemoney,” he said. “She didn’t like the dirt last time but I’ve ridden her in a little bit of work the other day and she’s a nice filly. She’ll be better on the turf but it’s a tough race.”
The form of last year’s Jumeirah Derby (Presented by Al Tayer Motors) worked out extremely well, with winner Nations Pride going on to Grade 1 glory in the States. A field of nine will try to emulate him in this year’s race, with his stablemates One Nation and Highbank joined by Bin Suroor’s Al Khazneh.
“One Nation should enjoy the extra furlong and looks a leading contender,” said Appleby. “He ran a very solid race last time and came out of it in great order. Highbank has produced two sound efforts so far this year and will be interesting over this distance, which should suit based on his pedigree. We feel he can be very competitive as well.”
Fawzi Nass runs two, with stable jockey De Vries opting to ride recent maiden winner Sharar over Legend Of Cannes.
“This was a hard pick for me,” said the jockey. “I think Sharar is a horse who is improving still and Legend Of Cannes has been quite busy lately so that’s why I picked Sharar – he might have a bit more left in the tank.”
The opening race is the Al Karama Stakes (Presented by Defender 130), a 1400metre dirt three-year-old contest. Bhupat Seemar’s Morning, dropping in grade and distance from the UAE 2000 Guineas, looks interesting, while Ah Jeez, a son of UAE Derby winner Mendelssohn, makes his local debut for California-based trainer Doug O’Neill.
35 minutes later, a field of nine lines up for the Defender 90 Handicap, over 1200metres on dirt. De Vries rides King Gold, third on both of his local starts so far for French trainer Nicolas Caullery.
“King Gold ran a cracking race last time,” said the jockey. “I committed a little bit too early and he didn’t quite stay the seven furlongs. He had a bad draw that day  and I think the six furlongs will suit him down to the ground. He’ll be a good ride.”
The opposition includes the lightly raced Colour Up, another who was undone by a wide draw last time when finishing second to Rawy over this course and distance.
“Colour Up has been given a good break and is in good form,” said owner Sayed Hashish, who bought the son of Mehmas as two-year-old. “The draw  is not good but we’re hoping for a big run.”
Race three, the Defender 110 Handicap, over 1400metres on turf, is fiendishly competitive and has a full field of 16, including five for Godolphin. Appleby runs Silent Film, the pick of William Buick, and Bay Of Honour, while Bin Suroor sends out Major Partnership, Light And Dark and White Lion.
De Vries rides Ali Albadwawi’s course and distance winner Al Salt, who returns to Meydan having won last time out at Abu Dhabi.
“Al Salt won with a little bit in hand last time,” he said. “He got out late and he still finished well, winning quite comfortably. He will be another good ride.”
The Hashish silks will be carried here by course and distance winner Spirit Of Light, who has earned a cheque on all three Carnival starts so far this season.
“Spirit Of Light will need to defy top weight and bad draw,” said the owner. “It won’t be an easy task but there should be strong pace in the race which should help him.”
The closing race, the Defender 75th Limited Edition Handicap, over 1600metres on dirt, has a field of 12, including dual course and distance winner Street Mood and raiders from Spain, in Legionario, and the Czech Republic in Josephino.
Racing begins at 6pm and tickets, starting at AED2 for General Admission, are available from dubairacingclub.com