Friday’s seventh meeting of the 2011 Dubai International Racing Carnival, sponsored by Emirates NBD, has a little bit of everything with a cracking racecard featuring the Group Two Balanchine and the third and final leg of the Meydan Masters jockeys' challenge.
The Balanchine is a 1800m Turf contest restricted to fillies and mares and in which Godolphin's Aspectoflove will be hoping to go one better than last year when second to Deem. Trained by Saeed Bin Suroor, she has already won the 1600m Cape Verdi (in which she was also second last year) but is penalised for that success and has an extra one and a half kilograms to carry.
Bin Suroor sounds hopeful though: "She has improved this year and we learned a lot about her in the summer. We were delighted with that win and she has come on from that but the penalty does make it harder."
Stable companion Long Lashes is another who cannot be ruled out, she won her lastest start which was in the UK, over 1700m on the Turf. On that occasion she was ridden by Frankie Dettori but will be steered by Ted Durcan this time.
Third in the Cape Verdi and arguably very unlucky was the Mike De Kock-trained River Jetez who is joined in the line-up by UAE 1000 Guineas runner-up Reem to give the South African trainer a strong hand as he seeks a fourth win in this race. He said: "River Jetez is seven now but acting like a 3yo! She is in great form, working very well and we expect a big run. Reem is going to be interesting as a 3yo against her elders. She gets a weight allowance and it looks a good opportunity to try her on the turf."
Lolamar is a 2011 Meydan winner already for UK-based trainer Marco Botti and Strawberrydaquiri is a proven Group One performer who makes her debut for Bahrain trainer Fawzi Nass. Both have to be feared.
Racing opens with the Group Two Bani Yas over 1400 metres on the All-Weather track , the only Purebred Arabian race at Meydan this weekend. The Saifaldin Deeb-trained Dariya will be hard to beat under Durcan.
The world's richest horse race, the US$10 million Dubai World Cup, is run over 2000m on All-Weather, as will be the concluding conditions race and De Kock's Mr Brock and Golden Sword are among a clutch of runners who will be hoping to gain an invitation to the big race itself.
Herman Brown's Bronze Cannon, Jerry Barton's Deem and Ali Rashid Al Raihe's 2010 Group One Dubai Duty Free winner Al Shemali are others with big night pretensions seeking to strengthen their case in a mouthwatering finale.
The Meydan Masters jockey’s challenge concludes with the 1800m Turf handicap after which we will know who succeeds inaugural 2010 winner Richard Hills in the prestigious competition.