Cladocera Skips to US$200,000 Group 2 Balanchine Victory for Soumillon

Dubai Racing Club

Hunter’s Light cruises to Dubai Millennium Stakes victory

The Group 2 Balanchine Stakes went to France last night as Cladocera landed her second win of the 2015 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Racecourse.

In doing so, she became the third Cape Verdi winner, (1600m turf), to follow up in this 1800m turf feature but she has a lot to live up to. Sun Classique won the two contests in 2008 before landing the Dubai Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup night while Sajjhaa achieved the same feat in 2013 before winning the Group 1 Jebel Hatta on Super Saturday and the Dubai Duty Free on the big night.


Cladocera and Richard Mullen claim G2 Balanchine success in the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Racecourse. Credit: Dubai Racing // Andrew Watkins

Ridden by Christophe Soumillon for Alain De Royer-Dupre, she was held up well off a decent early gallop before being asked to close as the runners turned for home. She was clearly going well but Soumillon chose to take his time before shaking the reins about 100m out and settling the race in a matter of strides.

“We were drawn nine so the tactics were pretty much decided for me,” said Soumillon. “They went a reasonable gallop which has helped her settle nicely and the only brief moment of worry I had was when forced a bit wide in the straight.

“She has a lovely turn of foot as we saw there and is going to improve with age and racing.”

That was on the turf, as was the main feature race, the 2000m Listed Dubai Millennium Stakes, named after Sheikh Mohammed’s favourite horse and, fittingly, Godolphin’s trainer, Saeed bin Suroor saddled the winner.

Hunter’s Light was the horse in question, providing Godolphin a fourth consecutive win in the race and a third for Bin Suroor. A Group One winner in both Europe and the UAE, Hunter’s Light had been freshened up before making a winning reappearance, three weeks ago, in a handicap, also over 2000m on turf.

“He has retained all his ability,” said Doyle. “I wish they had gone a bit quicker tonight as he travels so strongly but I was always pretty confident. He picked up nicely at the top of the straight and ran on well.

“The whole team will have to sit down and discuss future plans as he has plenty of options.”

Hunter’s Light broke the track record in the process.

The meeting opened with the 1400m Group 2 Bani Yas on dirt, the only Purebred Arabian race on the card and turned into a procession by Manark, trained by Erwan Charpy for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and ridden by the owner’s retained jockey, Paul Hanagan.

TM Super Bird set a good gallop with Hanagan’s mount, quite keen early on, not far behind. Once the jockey asked for his challenge, Manark responded immediately, bounding clear and crossed the line more than nine lengths clear.

“The horse had some decent form in England and would have needed his first UAE run at Abu Dhabi,” said Hanagan. “He has trained well on the dirt and working well, so we were hopeful of a big run but he has exceeded expectations.”

UK-based trainer, Tony Carroll must have suffered a nasty feeling of déjà vu 300m from home in the 1000m turf handicap when his Caspian Prince, who made a blistering start and had led all the way, was challenged by Hototo.

Seven weeks ago, on the opening night, Carroll’s charge tried to make all over the same course and distance, only to be denied close home by Hototo (and then losing second to Fityaan).

However, history was not to repeat itself and, despite drifting across the track under Richard Hughes, he was actually running away from his old rival at the end.

“I was keen to utilise his early speed, of which he has plenty, and wanted to be on the far side, away from the centre where they raced mainly last week. He has a lot of natural speed and was quick in the early stages, but then had another burst which had most of the others struggling.

“The trainer was pretty confident and has been proved correct.”

Headed on the line in a 1900m dirt handicap last week, the Doug Watson-trained Layl made no mistake this time, landing a 1600m dirt handicap in a course record in the style of a progressive horse.

Winner of a domestic 1900m dirt handicap on his local debut, this was only his third start in the UAE and tenth in total. Given a confident ride by Pat Dobbs, Layl eased to the front about 300m from home and always looked likely to hold off the one remaining challenge, that of Giftorm.

“He is a nice horse, we have always thought so,” said Watson. “We have been able to qualify him for the Dubai World Cup Carnival and he has produced two big runs.

“We would like to think he still has more to offer.”

Dobbs added: “I probably went too soon the last time, he thought he had done enough and basically pulled himself up.”

The combination are enjoying a prolific domestic season, as well as an excellent Dubai World Cup Carnival, and completed a double with the victory of Storm Belt in a 2000m dirt handicap.

A beaming Watson said: “This is another horse we have always held in the highest regard and he actually won his first two outings for us at Sharjah. It has been a great season and the Dubai World Cup Carnival is going really well.”

The meeting concluded with a 1400m turf handicap, won by Dark Emerald recording his second 2015 success for trainer, Brendan Powell and jockey Richard Mullen.