Dubai: The Mike de Kock-trained Mahbooba rates highly on her best form and will prove hard to beat in today's ninth running of the Group 2 Cape Verdi Stakes, the feature event of the fourth meeting of the 2012 Dubai World Cup Carnival.
The five-year-old daughter of Galileo takes on seven rivals in the $200,000 (Dh734,000) turf contest which is sponsored by the Saeed and Mohammad Al Naboodah Group.
Already an effortless winner of the Al Rashidiya Trial two weeks ago she looks the one they will all have to beat despite being dropped back in trip to 1600 metres for the first time since her UAE 1000 Guineas win in February last year.
De Kock, who also saddles last season's Al Bastakiya winner Reem, said on his website: "This is not the strongest Cape Verdi I've seen, but it will be very competitive all the same and I think First City is the horse to beat.
"Mahbooba comes back in trip, but she has a chance, she is very well and can be competitive here.
"She has proved herself particularly versatile. She is a one mile Classic winner here in the UAE on Tapeta, won over 1m 4f on turf in England and then started her 2012 campaign in the best possible way here over 1m 1f. She still shows plenty of speed so one mile should be ok," he said.
"Reem has come on from her run last week, she has some good turf form in Dubai and we're hoping she can reproduce her 2011 Carnival run to River Jetez."
First City, who was previously trained in England and was a noteworthy third in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket last July, will have her first start in the UAE for Champion Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe.
Stable jockey Royston Ffrench commented on the six-year-old's chances: "She seems to have settled in well and is working nicely. Her best form in England would give her a big chance but Mahbooba looks the one we all have to beat; that was a very impressive performance on the first night." Doug Watson, who opened his Carnival account last week with Barbecue Eddie, saddles ex-Godolphin and John Hammond filly Al Sharood, the winner of a Conditions event on the Tapeta at Meydan in December.
Watson is looking forward to today's race and said: "This was always her first main target and we were delighted with her debut win. She shows so much speed that the 1400m on that occasion looked the ideal race for her first start but she has good turf form at 1600m so the trip should be fine.
"She has a bit to find on ratings but is in great form and we should find out a lot about her."
British trainer Tom Dascombe saddles former Royal Ascot winner Rhythm Of Light who was second in Turkey on her most recent start in September,
The trainer said: "She seems in great form but we will only find out if that is the case when she runs so this is the ideal place to start. It looks a good race and Mahbooba was impressive two weeks ago and will be hard to beat."
Godolphin trainer Saeed Bin Surour, who won the Cape Verdi 12 months ago with Aspect Of Love, but is without a representative this year, appears to have leading chances in four of the meet's five other races with Club Oceanic, Emerald Commander, Prince Bishop and Start Right.