MAGIC LILY AND NISREEN
Ed Marnane, Dubai – The Dubai Carnival continues at Meydan today, Thursday13 February 2020, with the Group 2 Balanchine the highlight on an attractive seven race card.
First run in 2004, the Balanchine – over 1800m on turf and restricted to fillies and mares – sees Cape Verdi winner Magic Lily and the gallant runner-up Nisreen renew rivalry.
Twelve months after winning the Balanchine with Poetic Charm, Charlie Appleby has sound claims of taking the prize again with Magic Lily aiming to become the eighth filly to complete the Cape Verdi/Balanchine double.
By Derby winner New Approach, she was delivered fast and late to narrowly deny Nisreen in a photo-finish under James Doyle and break the track record for 1600m in the Cape Verdi.
The form of that race was given a timely boost when the third home Beyond Reason won a competitive handicap at Meydan seven days ago. Magic Lily, the second foal of the Oaks heroine Dancing Rain, will relish the step up in distance to 1800m and will take plenty of beating under her 1.5kg penalty in the hands of William Buick, Appleby’s first choice rider.
Nisreen, trained by Japanese French-based Hiroo Shimizu, looks the chief threat. She showed a likeable attitude in the Cape Verdi, only getting caught in the dying strides having looked the likely winner. The daughter of Raven’s Pass, winner of six of her 11 races, is open to improvement stepping up in trip and is weighted to reverse form with Magic Lily.
Of the others, Surrounding makes most appeal at decent odds despite trailing in a long way behind Magic Lily in the Cape Verdi. She had an excuse having reported to be in season after the race. Surrounding, a Group 3 winner in Ireland last year, bounced back to form when making late headway to finish a close fourth behind Salute The Soldier in a competitive handicap here two weeks ago.
The main support race is the Firebreak Stakes, a Group 3 on dirt over 1600m and a key local trial for the $1.5m Godolphin Mile on the Dubai World Cup undercard next month. The race has attracted a strong field, headed by last year’s impressive winner Muntazah for trainer Doug Watson. Owned and bred by Hamdan Al Maktoum, he badly needed his recent comeback in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round I when finishing nine lengths behind Kimbear, his first appearance following a 285-day break. He will strip fitter for the race and is fancied to put up a bold show.
US import Quip, now trained by Watson, is a fascinating runner on his local debut. He had some smart form for former trainer Rudolphe Brisset, winning four of his 11 starts, highlighted by his victory in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap 2 ten months ago. Fitness is an obvious concern, returning after a near five month break.
Salem bin Ghadayer’s Heavy Metal, the 2018 winner of the Firebreak, doesn’t look the force of old based on recent evidence. His stable companion Capezzano made giant strides last year, reeling off a hat-trick of wins, all on dirt at Meydan. He defeated Thunder Snow in the final leg of the Al Maktoum Challenge, a career best, before flopping behind the same rival in the Dubai World Cup. He was reported to be lame after the race having suffered interference at an early stage of the race.
Riding arrangements suggest Capezzano is the yard’s main hope, with Mickael Barzalona electing to ride the six-year-old ahead of Heavy Metal and new recruit Matterhorn. If back to his best, Capezzano has strong claims of taking his tally to six at Meydan and starting his campaign with a bang.
Matterhorn, formerly trained by Mark Johnston, is one to consider on his local and dirt debut. A prolific winner on the All-Weather, he could handle the conditions being a son of Raven’s Pass, a sire whose progeny have a decent record on Meydan’s main track.
It would be foolish to ignore the claims of the tough Secret Ambition, a five-time course winner. He arrives off the back of arguably career-best effort in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round I, narrowly going down to Kimbear in a titanic finish. The big fear for Secret Ambition’s chances is that he tends to be tardy at the gates, and will need to avoid those antics.
Satish Seemar and Richard Mullen team up with Bochart in race 3, a dirt handicap over 1200m. He created a big impression when defeating the reopposing Desert Doctor and nine others in a course and distance handicap last month. Breaking sharply, he blitzed his rivals from the front and won with plenty in hand in a slick time. He rates the best bet on the card.
The finale, a 2410m handicap on turf, looks a good opportunity for the unexposed and progressive Dubai Future, trained by Saeed bin Suroor. Winner of two of his three races in the UK last year, he impressed on his Meydan debut last month, scoring over the same course and distance under Harry Bentley, who maintains the partnership. He doesn’t look badly treated off his revised rating and looks the likely winner in a race Godolphin are responsible for eight of the 16 runners.
Race 1: 8 WADEEAA 9 AF AL SAJANJLR 10 MIRNA 3 RB LAM TARA
Race 2: 10 YA HAYATI 5 I WILL NOT 12 SILENT NIGHT 1 AL MUKHTAR STAR
Race 3: 2 BOCHART 1 TRUCK SALESMAN 5 LAVASPIN 8 DESERT DOCTOR
Race 4: 2 MAGIC LILY 4 NISREEN 1 SURROUNDING 6 DUBAI LOVE
Race 5: 1 ROULSTON SCAR 11 TOROSAY 3 WAADY 4 CASPIAN PRINCE
Race 6: 6 MUNTAZAH 5 CAPEZZANO 3 SECRET AMBITION 2 MATTERHORN
Race 7: 10 DUBAI FUTURE 1 DESERT FIRE 8 MASIF CENTRAL 14 EYEHALLOW
Best Bet: 2 Bochart (Race 3)
Best Value: 12 Silent Night (Race 2)
Best Swinger: 6 Muntazah and 5 Capezzano (Race 6)
Leg 1: 8, 9, 10
Leg 2: 5, 10
Leg 3: 2
Leg 4: 2, 4
Leg 5: 1, 11
Leg 6: 5, 6
Leg 7: 10
Jackpot (Races 4-7): R16
Leg 1: 2, 4
Leg 2: 1, 3, 4, 11
Leg 3: 5, 6
Leg 4: 10