x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Royston Ffrench hopes First City can build on win over Mahbooba at Dubai Carnival

First City will have to give 3lb to her major rival in Balanchine Stakes at Meydan Racecourse today, which jockey admits will make life difficult.

First City and Mahbooba lock horns for the second time at this year's Dubai Carnival in the Balanchine Stakes at Meydan on Friday.

Mahbooba was sent off the long odds-on favourite for the Cape Verdi following a brilliant return to Dubai in early January, but she was beaten a nose by former David Simcock inmate First City, making her debut for Ali Rashid Al Raihe.

First City will this time have to give 3lb to her major rival, which jockey Royston Ffrench admits, will make life difficult.

Ffrench said: "The extra 200m [furlong] should not be a problem as she has been placed over 1800m [nine furlongs] in England.

"We thought she would run well last time but also expected her to improve from the run so hopefully she can build on that win, but she has to give weight away this time which makes the task harder obviously."

Mahbooba's trainer Mike de Kock believes the step up in distance will help his charge.

The South African handler also saddles Reem, second in this race 12 months ago.

The trainer said: "We were delighted with Mahbooba's first run back when she won impressively, but the Cape Verdi really did not go her way with no pace and she had to try to make the running.

"The extra 200m in the Balanchine will definitely suit her and she should go very close, although First City is a good filly.

"Reem seems better on turf these days and hopefully she will run a big race as well."

Godolphin rely on local debutante Dysphonia, trained by Saeed bin Suroor.

He said: "She is a mare we like and has been working very well. Whatever she achieves on Friday, there should be more to come as she will certainly improve for the run."

Mick Channon saddles Fanditha in the Group Two contest, while Tom Dascombe is represented by Rhythm Of Light.

Jim Bolger's Hurricane Havoc and the Ken Condon-trained Marvada run for Ireland.