Magic Lily looks set to steal the Balan­chine show

The Citizen (KZN) - - Racing Express Extra - Ed Mar­nane

Dubai – The Dubai Car­ni­val con­tin­ues at Mey­dan to­day 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 the 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. The form of the 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. The daugh­ter of Raven’s Pass, win­ner of six of her 11 races, 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 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 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 looks the force of old based on re­cent ev­i­dence and is read­ily op­posed.

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.

Mat­ter­horn 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.

Best Bet: 2 Bochart (Race 3) Best Value: 12 Silent Night (Race 2)

Best Swinger: 6 Mun­tazah and 5 Capez­zano (Race 6)

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