DUBAI // Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa's Mahbooba will line up in the Dubai Sheema Classic on World Cup night after claiming the featured Balanchine fillies and mares race at Meydan Racecourse last night.
With the jockey Christophe Soumillon up, Mahbooba relished the extra 200 metres of the Balanchine and swept through from a wide position, gradually reeling in the lead pack to finish two-and-a-half lengths ahead of the Ali Rashid al Raihe-trained First City.
After recording his fifth victory in the Group 2 1,800m outing, trainer Mike de Kock said Mahbooba would now contest Super Saturday's Dubai City of Gold, as well as the US$5 million (Dh18.3m) Sheema Classic on March 31.
"It was the trip that beat her last time," De Kock said, referring to the defeat to First City in the Cape Verdi last month.
"She kept three wide all the way round, which probably worked in her favour.
"She found a flat spot going into the home straight, or not even a flat spot, it's just that she wants further. She doesn't sprint and that's what beat her last time," he said.
Sheikh Mohammed, who also owns the third-placed Reem, bred Mahbooba at his Australian yard.
Following a tried and tested script, he sent her to South Africa where De Kock and his wife, Diane, took charge of her conditioning. After winning a South African Group 1 race, Mahbooba was transferred to Dubai.
"After I bred her I sent her to South Africa," Sheikh Mohammed said. "We always held her in high regard and when she won a Group 1 we knew that she was good enough to come to Dubai."
Mahbooba, whose name means "My Love" in Arabic, proved more than up to the Dubai challenge, claiming the 2011 UAE 1,000 Guineas.
She started this season with a win in the 1,800m Al Rashidiya Trial before finding the trip a little on the sharp side when losing the Cape Verdi to First City.
"She's a mile-and-a-half filly," said De Kock, citing a distance of about 2,400m. "That's her best trip."
Diane de Kock said Mahbooba had shown plenty of early promise as a youngster.
"I get the horses racetrack ready in South Africa" she said. "It's great to see her mature into the filly she is today.
"She always had a nice action and showed a lot of talent. It makes me feel proud to see the horses grow into winners."
Earlier in the evening, Kandar Du Falgas, Doug Watson's stalwart Purebred Arabian, claimed the Group 2 Bani Yas over 1,400m at the ripe old age of 10.
The Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid-owned runner recorded his fifth UAE win under the jockey Richard Hills. And proving that he can still better rivals half his age, he also set a course record of one minute, 33.68 seconds.
"He's been a real star for our stable," said Watson, confirming that Kandar Du Falgas would now step up to the to the 2,000m $250,000 Dubai Kahayla Classic.