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Cladocera Shaping up for Group 2 Balanchine Glory

Photo: Dubai Racing Club // Andrew Watkins

Umgiyo and Hunter`s Light Clash in Listed Dubai Millennium Stakes

Victory in the Group 2 Balanchine for fillies and mares at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday could see classy French runner, Cladocera follow in the footsteps of fellow female turf stars, Sun Classique and Sajjhaa.

The official feature an 1800m contest on a Meydan Sobha-sponsored Dubai World Cup Carnival card, is restricted to fillies and mares. Seven of the nine declared clashed in the 1600m Cape Verdi three weeks ago, when Cladocera was the easy victor.

Trained in France by Alain De Royer-Dupre she bids to become the third winner of both races – just like Sun Classique (2008) and Sajjhaa (2013), who went on to win the Dubai Sheema Classic and Dubai Duty Free respectively.

Cladocera is penalised for that win but, nonetheless, looks as though she will be very hard to beat.

“We were pretty confident before the Cape Verdi,” said her jockey, Christophe Soumillon. “She won well that day and has improved for the outing. Hopefully she will be hard to beat.”

Zurigha (2nd), Anahita (3rd), Victoria Regina (4th), Energia Fribby (5th), Slipper Orchid (6th) and Oh Star (7th) take her on again but it is hard to see them reversing the form.

“I think we all face a stiff task to beat Cladocera,” said Simcock, trainer of Victoria Regina. “My filly should run well but we are looking at place money I think.”

The Godolphin and Mike de Kock powerhouses clash again in the 2000m Listed Dubai Millennium Stakes with Hunter’s Light bidding to make it three on the bounce for Godolphin after Quick Wit and Tasaday landed the last two renewals.

The race, named after Godolphin trainer, Saeed Bin Suroor’s 2000 Dubai World Cup winner and HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s favourite horse, was first run in 2011 and has been won by Godolphin on three occasions.

A dual Group One winner, including the concluding round of the Al Maktoum Challenge in March 2013, Hunter’s Light won for the first time since in a handicap over Thursday’s course and distance.

“He won very well last time and we were very pleased with him,” said Bin Suroor. “We expected him to run well as his work had been very good and he has continued in great form at home.

“This was the next obvious step for him, up in class but we are very hopeful.”

South African Mike De Kock saddles Umgiyo, winner of an 1800m turf handicap on his sole local start to date. He was impressive on that occasion and, as importantly, staying on strongly suggesting the extra 200m will suit.

“We were very hopeful the other day,” said De Kock. “That was a handicap though and this is tougher – especially with Hunter’s Light in the field.”

Calling Out has his first run for David Simcock and has been pleasing his trainer: “His form in France was very strong and his work has been good. He seems to like fast ground and we are looking forward to running him.

“It is an interesting race and Hunter’s Light and the De Kock improver are going to be hard to beat.”

The meeting opens with the 1400m Group 2 Bani Yas on the dirt and the only Purebred Arabian race on the card. It features a clash between penalised Group 1 winners Areem and Bigg N Rich.