Dubai: Exciting Royal Ascot scorer Blue Point spearheads a typically strong Godolphin raiding party for this week’s seventh Dubai World Cup Carnival meeting, sponsored by Meydan Pillar Partner, Gulf News.

After an impressive victory of the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, the Charlie Appleby-trained Blue Point takes his first step towards his principal Dubai target, the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night, March 30.

We wanted to give Silent Attack a chance on dirt and a mile is a nice distance for him.

- Saeed Bin Surour | Godolphin trainer

Arguably one of the best sprinters in Europe, the five-year-old son of Shamardal is known to perform well, having finished only a head second behind the top sprinter Ertijaal in the Meydan Sprint sponsored by Gulf News 12 months ago.

Appleby, who has his string in fine order and has recorded 10 wins at the carnival this far, said: “Blue Point is coming back from a bit of a lay-off, having not run since August, but I have been pleased with his preparation. He has done well from four to five and looks the finished article now. Our main aim has always been the Al Quoz Sprint and therefore there should be some marked improvement on whatever he does this week.

$1.1m

the total prize money on offer today

“He is not coming up against a horse of the calibre of Ertijaal this time and should still be the one to beat.”

Thursday’s card also features two other significant group races, including the Group 2 Balanchine Sponsored By gulfnews.com, a fillies and mares contest named after Godolphin’s first Classic winner. Balanchine made history when she won the Irish Derby (Group 1) and Epsom Oaks (Group 1) in 1994.

This year’s renewal of the nine-furlong contest features the first two horses home in the mile Group 2 Cape Verdi on January 17 — Appleby’s Poetic Charm (William Buick) and Asoof (Christophe Soumillon), trained by long-serving Godolphin handler Saeed Bin Surour.

He has done well from four to five and looks the finished article now.

- Charlie Appleby | commenting on sprint star Blue Point

Appleby told the Godolphin website: “We were delighted with Poetic Charm’s victory in the Cape Verdi. “The step-up to nine furlongs is a slight question mark, but we were very pleased with the way she galloped out last time and she is coming up against the same group of fillies. If she stays the trip, she should take all the beating again.”

Bin Suroor, who has won two of the last three runnings of the race, said, “Asoof ran well to finish second last time. This is another tough race, but this trip should suit her and she has been going well at home.”

The small but quality field also includes the Turkish raider Peri Luna and multiple Group 1 winner Furia Cruzada from Frenchman Erwan Charpy’s Nad Al Sheba-based Blue Stables.

15

wins for Godolphin at this year’s Carnival

Peri Luna’s regular rider Esmail Koyuncu believes that the step up in trip should aid the filly who has posted Group 1 victories in her native Turkey.

“Peri Lina is very good. She’s reached a good point at Meydan,” he said. “The [Cape Verdi] was a very tough race for her. She has started to become fresh and is much better now.”

“This time I feel she can do much better. She likes longer distance, that was a mile and it was her first time out.”

The third Group contest is the Firebreak Stakes Sponsored By Reach By Gulf News, where the Fazza Stables-owned Heavy Metal looks the one to beat. Albeit, he could only finish behind the imposing North America in Round One of the Al Maktoum Challenge.

On that occasion the evergreen nine-year-old was not able to get to his favoured front running rail where he won this contest in emphatic fashion 12 months ago.

His main rival looks to be the Doug Watson-trained Kimbear, a dual winner at Meydan.

The handler said: “We had wanted to run him in the [1900m] Maktoum Challenge, but this is the next logical spot, since he’s run so well at 1600m in Round 1 and was second in the Godolphin Mile last year

“The good thing is he’s in a good form. He’s come back and worked really well. We might try him in the [Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 on March 9], but what we will most likely do is enter him in both races if he gets to Super Saturday [along with the Group 3 Burj Nahaar over 1600m].

“I think he can stay the trip. Some say he didn’t stay in England, but he ran some huge races against some very good horses there.”

Thursday card also features some interesting handicaps.