Feature Story



By Sam Turner - 

In what has proved a common theme at this year’s Carnival, trainer Charlie Appleby swept the board at Meydan with a sparkling Group race treble on Friday’s card.

Group 2 victories for English Rose in the Balanchine and Naval Power in the Singspiel Stakes, both presented by Longines and ridden by Mickael Barzalona, preceded a snug Group 3 success for the William Buick-ridden Siskany in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy.

The Godolphin domination was instigated by English Rose who swept past stablemate Sapphire Seas in the straight under a confident Barzalona to claim glory in the Balanchine.

“She (English Rose) was a bit keen on her comeback here, but mentally she has stepped forward a fair bit and Mickael (Barzalona) got her settled well tonight,” said Appleby.

“The filly in second has travelled well into the race but has just got a bit tired and to be fair probably wants to go up in trip.”


Naval Power defied a lengthy absence to hand Appleby and Barzalona a magnificent Group 2 double in the Singspiel Stakes.

Victory for the four-year-old was a triumph for Appleby’s team who nursed the four-year-old back to full fitness, following a frustrating summer where setbacks kept him off the track in the UK.

There was no sign of those niggles here as Barzalona brought the son of Teofilo with a withering run in the straight to sweep past San Donato (Pat Dobbs) and Sean (Adrie de Vries) who were both impeded by the wayward Make Me King, inteference which arguably cost them their chance in the straight.

“It’s always a concern when they’ve been off the track for so long and he kept getting niggling setbacks last summer which meant that we just had to pull stumps and look to a winter campaign,” said Appleby of a horse whose only career defeat came in the 2022 Dewhurst Stakes.

 “He’s a gelding so he ticks all the boxes as a horse that we can put on a plane and campaign internationally.”

Barzalona completed his own sparkling treble when coaxing Al Muzn to the front in the Longines Conquest handicap for trainer Salman Al Sabri who himself was celebrating his first winner of the season.


Not only did Siskany provide Appleby with a Group race clean sweep, but the six-year-old booked his position in the Dubai Gold Cup on World Cup night.

Buick, beaten on a couple of leading chances during the evening, enjoyed some respite from the frustration with victory aboard the winner who quickened nicely in the straight to hit the front, before withstanding the challenge of Sea Stone and Jim Crowley.

“I’m delighted with Siskany and he’s one of those horses you can set your watch by,” said Appleby.

“He’s been and done it round here a number of times now and, as soon as he got the gap he was always going to get the job done.

“He’s booked his ticket for the Gold Cup now and ran a great race in that last year so it’s all systems go for him.”


The imposing Manama Gold extended her unbeaten record to three with a professional performance in the Group 3 UAE Oaks presented by Longines.

Positively ridden by regular pilot Adrie de Vries, the daughter of Star Guitar was swiftly away and, in a change of tactics, cut out all of the running to score by a length-and-a-quarter from Mizzyaan, who the winner had beaten by 13 lengths when they met last month.

Some may have been a little underwhelmed with the victory, but De Vries believes the best is still to come from Fawzi Nass’ trainee.

“I think there’s plenty in the tank, but I also think she will be a better filly next year as she’s growing a lot,” said de Vries.

“I have a lot to do with her in the mornings and she’s a very special filly.

“At the moment she’s probably not at her best as she’s still growing a bit, but she is all class.”


There was a magnificent stretch duel in the Listed Al Bastakiya (Presented by Longines) as Killer Collect and Tadgh O’Shea fought off the persistent challenge of the Mickael Barzalona-ridden Auto Bahn to score narrowly.  

In what proved to be one of the races on the dirt this Carnival, the two rivals fought it out for the length of the straight to the delight of the Meydan racegoers with Killer Collect poking his game head in front at the line for a thrilling neck verdict. 

“I was devasted for this guy (Killer Collect) the last day in the Guineas as he fluffed his lines in the gates and that’s uncharacteristic of him,” said rider Tadgh O’Shea.

“He’d take your eye out walking round the parade ring as he’s a gorgeous horse and, although he would know that he’s had a race there, he has five weeks to freshen up at home and all roads lead to the UAE Derby.”


Track announcer Rishi Persad labelled it the ‘miracle of Meydan’ and few which saw Desert Peace lift the Longines Spirit Flyback handicap could argue.

The seven-year-old, ridden by Jose da Silva, stumbled badly within a few strides of leaving the stalls for the 1600m dirt contest, demanding that Da Silva use all his prowess to keep the partnership intact and defy gravity.

The incident left Desert Peace detached by half a dozen lengths and seemingly with little chance of winning, let alone placing, but in the manner of a number of his Meydan winners this season, Da Silva coaxed his mount into contention in the straight.

His perseverance was rewarded when the son of Curlin collared Al Jaddaf in the dying strides for a highly unlikely neck victory.  

Musabbeh Al Mheiri trainee Topper Bill reversed form with Vespasian to take out the opening 1000m (70-95) handicap in the hands of Qais Al Busaidi and win for the first time since 2021.

Following his first race victory, Omani rider Al Busaidi bookended the card with success to land a double in the closing Longines Spirit Zulu Time handicap aboard Maplewood for handler Osama Refai.