04 March 2016

Balanchine Victory Highlights Bin Suroor Carnival Treble

Godolphin’s speedy filly, Very Special completed the Cape Verdi-Balanchine double on an Emirates-sponsored night at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday evening and looks set to chart a course for the Dubai Turf on Dubai World Cup night.

Trained by Saeed Bin Suroor the daughter of Lope de Vega provided echoes of her handler’s former stable star, Sajhaa, who collected the Cape Verdi and Balanchine crowns, as well as the Super Saturday Jebel Hatta, on her way to Dubai Turf victory in 2013.

Very Special led early in the race, which is restricted to fillies and mares, under jockey James Doyle. She slipped clear of the field and was soon five lengths in front going round the final bend and was never really troubled by the challenge of the Marco Botti-trained Euro Charline, attempting to close under Ryan Moore.

"She jumped well again and no-one wanted to go. The fizz of that first night was out of her today so she was different class tonight,” said Doyle. “It [the Dubai Turf] is definitely an option and I think she would have to improve again.”

Her trainer, Bin Suroor was celebrating his third Balanchine victory as well as a winning treble on the night after the victories of American Hope in the Emirates Holidays Handicap also under Doyle and Pure Diamond in the Meydan Classic under Harry Bentley.

“Hopefully we will go to Dubai World Cup night with her,” he said. “She is a really lovely filly and has thrived in the Dubai sunshine since she arrived.

“She seems to like bowling along in front and James gave her a great ride as he did last month.”

On a night when the fillies took centre stage with the running of the UAE Oaks and the Balanchine, Pure Diamond stole still more of the limelight when she beat the colts to claim the Listed Meydan Classic. The race, which is restricted to three year olds, is held over 1400m on the turf and was dominated by Godolphin with the racing operation landing a 1-2 thanks to Charlie Appleby’s runner-up, Comicas under William Buick.

Pure Diamond was reversing the form from three weeks ago when, seemingly unlucky in running, she chased Comicas home in the course and distance prep for this contest.

This time Pure Diamond hit the front 200m out to post an easy victory on what was her third UAE outing having also had one run on the dirt.

“She is a filly I have always really liked and I actually picked her name,” said Bin Suroor. “She was unlucky in the prep when she made up a lot of ground having been too far back.

“She has a good turn of foot but is going to be a better filly over further. We will think about the UAE Derby or the Classic in Europe.”

The Group 3 UAE Oaks may have had a small field of just three runners, but the unbeaten Doug Watson runner, Polar River, drew the eye.

Winning her first three racecourse outings, including the UAE 1000 Guineas by a huge margin, she is something of a local sensation.

Polar River and jockey Pat Dobbs took over from the Mike de Kock-tained Argentinian Group 1 winner, Vale Dori early in the straight were well clear 200m from home when Dobbs eased her down.

She had three-quarters of a length to spare over Vale Dori, who was making her local debut following a layoff.

Polar River now heads to the UAE Derby and a test againt the colts over the same 1900m course and distance as the UAE Oaks.

“She won her race in just a few strides,” said Dobbs. “She idled somewhat in the final stages but has won comfortably enough. She travelled throughout the race better tonight and is still learning.

“We have to look forward to the UAE Derby which will be a stronger race and that should suit her. We did not learn much tonight but she is a lovely filly to have in the yard.”

The David Simcock-trained Sheikhzayedroad was the easy winner of the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy, the 2810m turf prep race for World Cup night’s 3200m Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup.

A Group 1 winner at Woodbine in 2014, he won a 2000m turf handicap at Meydan that year and coped admirably with the extra distance here, supplying jockey Martin Harley with a first UAE winner in the process.

“I am delighted for this horse as he is a real favourite in the yard,” said Simcock. “We have always thought he would be a nice stayer one day and to have a horse like this to take us to Dubai World Cup night with a live chance is brilliant.”

The Group 1 Purebred Arabian Al Maktoum Challenge R3, over the same 2000m dirt course and distance as the Kahayla Classic on Dubai World Cup night, was won comfortably by Handassa in course record time.

Making his local and dirt debut under Paul Hanagan, he was a first UAE winner, at the sixth attempt, for Frenchman Francois Rohaut and looks another exciting homebred Purebred Arabian for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.