FILLIES & MARES take centre stage at Meydan for this seventh fixture of the 2020 Dubai World Cup Carnival, officially highlighted by the Group 2 Balanchine, over 1800m on turf and the second grass carnival race restricted to the fairer sex after the 1600m Group 2 Cape Verdi, won in dramatic fashion by Magic Lily. A 5yo homebred New Approach filly, trained by Charlie Appleby for Godolphin, she needed every millimetre of that 1600m in the Cape Verdi, leading only in the dying strides under James Doyle. A classy juvenile, when a close third in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile, she missed all of her 3yo season in 2018 and ran just twice last year. She appared back to her best with that Meydan victory three weeks ago, denying Nisreen who looked set to snatch the spoils for France when shooting clear 400m from home only to be denied by the Godolphin filly in the shadows of the post.
The third, Magic Lily’s stable companion Beyond Reason, won a 1400m turf handicap last week but the other seven who contested the Cape Verdi are all back, headed by Magic Lily and Nisreen, but including those who finished between fourth and eighth, namely, in order, Peri Lina, Maamora, Hateya, Surrounding and Dubai Blue. Magic Lily does have a penalty for the Cape Verdi success but the extra 200m should offset that and winners of that race have an excellent record of following up in this, six completing the double, most recently Appleby’s Poetic Charm last year. Stable companion Divine Image, the mount of Doyle with William Buick opting to ride Magic Lily this time, is the only runner among the eight who did not contest the Cape Verdi and could be the main danger.
The main support race, on the dirt, is a cracking renewal of the 1600m Group 3 Firebreak Stakes with the last two winners of the race set to clash in a quality field. Last year it was Muntazah, saddled by Doug Watson for Sheikh Hamdan and subsequently victorious, over the same track and trip, when setting the track record in the Group 3 Burj Nahaar on Super Saturday. A homebred 7yo Dubawi gelding, his two course and distance victories are somewhat put in the shade by Heavy Metal who landed this in 2018, one of his eight Meydan dirt victories, seven over this 1600m distance highlighted by the 2018 Group 2 Godolphin Mile when chased home by Muntazah. However, the now 10yo was third to that same rival last year in this and fourth in the Burj Nahaar won by Muntazah but was ahead of that adversary when they were second and third in the 2019 Godolphin Mile.
However, Heavy Metal has failed to beat a rival in two starts this season, most recently in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 when Muntazah was fourth. Second in that race, beaten just a flared nostril, was Secret Ambition, winner of last year’s Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile as well as the Listed Dubai Creek Mile in December when Heavy Metal was last. His trainer, Satish Seemar, is in great form and he looks to hold major claims in a fascinating renewal of a race first run in 2009. Skysurfers, victorious in 2010 and who defended his crown 12 months later, is the only dual winner to date. If Muntazah or Heavy Metal are to land a second title they have plenty of hurdles to overcome with Watson also introducing Quip to local action for Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi. A Grade Two winner in the US for previous connections, he looks a fascinating new recruit.
Heavy Metal’s trainer, Salem bin Ghadayer, also saddles Capezzano, a 6yo Bernardini gelding, owned by Sultan Ali and arguably the most progressive horse in the UAE last season, undoubtedly highlighted by his 2000m dirt Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 success on Super Saturday, a scintillating performance which saw him sent off favourite for the Dubai World Cup. Sadly he failed to beat a rival in what was, last year, the world’s most valuable horse race but he has three 1600m Meydan dirt victories on his CV although his record fresh is not the best. For the third time this year, the Purebred Arabians are able to ‘strut their carnival stuff’ and get their chance to shine in the 1600m Group 2 Mazrat Al Ruwayah, won last year by AF Al Sajanjle who will attempt to become the third dual winner, after Parador and Kaolin, who both defended their crown successfully in a race inaugurated in 2000.
For EERC (Emirates Entertaiment Racing Club) and Erwan Charpy, Cheik Roque was runner-up, over this track and trip, in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 on his penultimate start. That was won, stylishly, by RB Money To Burn whose connections rely on the progressive RB Lam Tara here. A dirt debutante, she should be thereabouts if taking to the new underfoot conditions. On official ratings Wadeeaa is the one they all have to beat. Now in the care of Ana Mendez, the 6yo mare enjoyed her career highlight with victory in Al Maktoum Challenge R1 last year at the main expense of AF Al Sajanjle.