Dubai: The Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes (Group 1), which is the showpiece race on the second day of Newmarket's July Meeting, promises to be a strong renewal with 11 top-rated fillies and mares in the mix.
Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, a three-time winner of the race, is represented by Maqaasid, whose best performance came when she was a competitive third behind Godolphin's Blue Bunting in the English 1,000 Guineas at this course in May.
Shaikh Hamdan appears to have a strong hand in Friday's Newmarket card where he has a leading representative in each of the meet's seven races.
Maqaasid, one of four three-year-olds in the field, is trained by John Gosden, who won the Falmouth back in 1997 with Ryafan. Bred at Shaikh Hamdan's Shadwell Stud, the three-year-old Green Desert filly, however, has a lot to find on her recent French form where she could only finish eighth behind Golden Lilac in the Poule D'Essai Des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas).
In addition to taking on two other Dubai-owned horses, Joviality and Masaya, she tackles experienced rivals such as top-class French filly Lilly Of The Valley, a five-race winner last season, and another French hope Sahpresa, a smart winner of the Group 3 Prix Du Palais-Royal on her most recent start.
Maqaasid also faces another dangerous adversary in the Godolphin-trained and German-bred Antara, a tenacious winner of the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom last month.
Frankie Dettori takes the ride in a race that has been her intended target while Godolphin's racing manager Simon Crisford issued an upbeat bulletin of the fillies chances.
"She's in excellent form. She won well at Epsom and has improved," he told At The Races.
"It's always difficult for a filly like her because she's a few pounds off the top fillies. It's important to get the right slot for her and we missed Ascot for this."
Another attention-grabbing contender is the Mike de Kock-trained River Jetez, who delivered some noteworthy performances at the Dubai Racing Carnival where she won the Group 2 Balanchine and finished a brave three-fourth of a second to Presvis in the $5million Dubai Duty Free (Group 1) in March.
The South African trainer reveals that the eight-year-old horse is being prepared for a major assignment in America with the Arlington Million (Grade 1) or Beverly D (Grade 1) named as possible mid-August targets.
"She's had a nice break and she needs a run before she goes for the Beverly D and this looks the natural place to start,|"De Kock told At The Races.
"She wouldn't be at her best and she will certainly improve for the run, but she is one of those fillies that even if she is underdone she still tries very hard.
"The Beverly D is her main target and I think she will be well suited to it. She's unbelievably tough."
The main support race today is the Group 2 Cherry Hinton Stakes for two-year-old fillies where Dubai interests include theGodolphin-trained Gamilati and Shaikh Hamdan's Sajwah.