18 January 2024

ERA Meydan Preview

A slice of UAE racing history beckons Charlie Appleby who could become the most successful trainer of the Group 2 Cape Verdi if he wins a sixth title, but looking to keep his English Rose from blooming in Friday’s feature event are a pair of fellow Britain based trainers.

Appleby’s unbeaten four-year-old Frankel filly might be the one to stop in the 1600m turf contest, which takes the spotlight as the feature event on another nine-race programme at Dubai’s iconic racing venue. However, each of William Haggas and Hugo Palmer are also dispatching their divisional stars in the race in a bid to prevent the Moulton Paddocks supremo from adding to the fifth title he won last year when With The Moonlight hit the target.

Haggas saddles Mystic Pearl, while Stenton Glider represents Palmer’s yard, the pair carrying their rivalry overseas with the former having gained a slight competitive edge over the other when winning the Listed Coral Distaff at Sandown in July. 

Mystic Pearl (Tom Marquand) came from way back in the field on that occasion to head Stenton Glider a 100m from the finish and score by three quarters of a length. However, when it came to try and follow up in the Group 3 Prix de Lieurey, a mile affair at Deauville a month later on what would be her last three-year-old start, the Invincible Spirit filly turned up a close third.

On the other hand, plying her trade at a similar level at Haydock, Stenton Glider (Jim Crowley)finished a distant 11th of 13 behind Heredia, who went on to score at Group 3 level thereafter. The form displayed by runners imported from Britain so far has been good, meaning the pair should be very much in the thick of the action at the finish.   

Speaking of his filly’s chances, Palmer said: “This has been the target since she disappointed at Haydock [in August]. She’s had a break since then, the first real break of her life. She’s grown and strengthened, filled out, and is a much stronger filly now. She’s taken to Dubai really well; she’s trained super and been very relaxed, so we hope she can run a very big race.”

It will take the pair their best effort, however, to stop Appleby’s English Rose (William Buick), who steps in alongside her Godolphin teammates and stable companions Silver Lady (Mickael Barzalona) and Shining Jewel (Richard Mullen).

The latter, a Siyouni filly, looks the better of Appleby’s second string. Shining Jewel has progressed well since undergoing wind surgery in May and is undefeated in two starts since, while Silver Lady, a winner on her debut, was last on her last start in the Group 3 Pride Stakes at Newmarket in October.

Appleby remains confident and added: ““English Rose is two from two and this provides a chance to see how she gets on in Pattern company. She looks to have progressed with each run and has been pleasing us at home. We are dipping our toe at this level to see where we stand for the rest of the year.

“Shining Jewel will probably appreciate stepping back up in distance following this run, and we have the Balanchine more in mind for her. She is ready to start her campaign but will potentially be seen to better effect over a longer trip.

“Silver Lady won nicely on her debut and is the only one of my three who has run at Black Type level. She produced a solid effort at York and you can put a line through her last run due to the conditions that day. Her work has been pleasing and she should be a major player.”

Ahmad bin Harmash’s Hunting Lady (Connor Beasley) runs fresh after a dominant nine-and-a-quarter length romp in the Al Nayfat Stakes, a 1400m Conditions run sponsored by Shadwell, at Jebel Ali last March and should go well considering the Emirati conditioner’s yard is one of those in-form operations this term.

Elsewhere on the card, the Cocoa Beach Stakes, a 1600m run on the dirt surface for three-year-old fillies, is another that could go Appleby’s way with Wild Goddess (Buick), a daughter of Camelot, who arrived in the UAE having won two of her four starts in Britain.

However, with no dirt or all-weather experience to boost her claims, the advantage perhaps could pass on to Fawzi Nass’ Manama Gold (Adrie de Vries), who won her only start in a similar event three weeks ago over the shorter 1400m trip by a widening two-and-a-half length margin from William Knight’s Frost At Dawn (Jim Crowley), who reopposes yet again and should come forward from her UAE debut.

Trainers’ championship leader Michael Costa saddles Lahfaty (Marquand), who will be expected to throw in another good performance for a strong yard, while Bhupat Seemar runs debutante Le Faucon Maltais (Tadhg O’Shea) and Doug Watson puts forward debutante Mizzyaan (Pat Dobbs), an unknown daughter of Justify.

Appleby will be hoping 2022 Grade 1 Pattison Summer Stakes champ Mysterious Night (Buick) can rebound in the 1400m handicap (80-105) on turf , while Costa-trained Ghaaleb (Marquand), placed twice in three starts at Jebel Ali this season, should be favourite to land the 1200m turf maiden, with the same connections holding strong hands in the corresponding dirt sprint, a handicap (70-90), where Mojeyrr (Marquand) and Taakeed (JC Mateus) are both declared.