Dubai Report: Moon Ballad Brilliant in Return

Moon Ballad's brilliant performance to win Thursday's group III second round of the Maktoum Challenge set Godolphin on course to secure their fourth Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) on March 29. Moon Ballad's success was welcomed by the stable that half an hour earlier saw their hold on the UAE Two Thousand Guineas (UAE-III) loosened when The South African Victory Moon ran down Western Diplomat.

So dominant was Moon Ballad that he immediately leapt to the top of everyone's lists for the $6,000,000 Dubai World Cup, and this despite the likelihood that Sulamani will run in the third round of the Maktoum Challenge on March 8.

Trainer Saeed bin Suroor said Moon Ballad would head straight into the Dubai World Cup with Sulamani to be the stable's representative in the third round before a decision is made whether he runs in the Dubai World Cup or the $2,000,000 Dubai Sheema Classic. Moon Ballad was never in danger of defeat and gave Godolphin their seventh win in the race and their third in the last three years after the successive victories of Bests of the Bests.

The Saudi Arabian Go Underground finished second with Seeking the Prize third however the race was denied some interest with the late scratch of State Shinto.

Victory Moon denied the stable their fourth UAE Two Thousand Guineas with his defeat of Western Diplomat and Bourbonnais, giving South African trainer Mike de Kock his second group success in as many weeks after the victory of Ipi Tombe in last week's Al Fahidi Fort.

De Kock said that Victory Moon would probably chase the Dubai Triple Crown however he hadn't totally ruled out the prospect of taking on older horses in the third round of the Maktoum Challenge, run on the same night as the Al Bastakiya, the second round of the Dubai Triple Crown.

"We will wait and have a look at the conditions of both races but the UAE Derby (UAE-II) is and always has been his main goal," de Kock said.

Godolphin may have been disappointed with their defeat in the Two Thousand Guineas however Al Saqaar gave them hope for major 3-year-old glory when he turned in an impressive performance to win the Maiden. Al Saqaar ran faster time that Victory Moon, and Royal Tryst, later in the evening and gave champion jockey Frankie Dettori his first winner of 2003.