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 night 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. Said double 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.”
Promising Run, picture DRC and Andrew Watkins
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.”