The Dubai World Cup Carnival will welcome back Australian runners for the first time since 2019 when sprinter He’s A Balter spearheads a three-strong team for trainer Will Clarken.
A 5-year-old sired by Spirit of Boom, He’s A Balter warmed up for his overseas adventure with a good third in the Listed Christmas Handicap at Morphettville on Saturday. The run thrilled managing owner Anthony Panozzo, who says he is “super excited” about the team’s Dubai plans.
“He’s A Balter will have a short break now, and then head to Dubai on Jan. 19,” said Panozzo, who was previously in Dubai with Illustrious Lad, when he came fifth in the G1 Al-Quoz Sprint in 2018. “There’s a really good programme for him; there’s the Listed Dubai Sprint over 1200 metres on Jan. 27, then that leads up to the Group 2 Blue Point Sprint and then the Group 3 Nad Al-Sheba Turf Sprint in March.”
He’s A Balter has won five races since joining trainer Will Clarken from previous handler Peter Gelagotis and will aim to follow in the hoofprints of fellow Aussie Faatinah, successful in Carnival turf sprints in 2018 and 2019 for trainer David Hayes. Panozzo feels he is the right type of horse to do well at Meydan Racecourse.
“Three starts ago he ran in a Group 2 [Caulfield Sprint] which was a very hot race, with Group 1 sprinters. He finished down the track, in seventh, but there were genuine excuses. He’s been devastating in a couple of his wins at Caulfield, against some really well-fancied Godolphin runners who were seasoned sprinters and hard to get by. That’s what made me think: ‘This guy might be the one we take to Dubai.’”
This will be the first time that Group 1-winning trainer Clarken has brought horses to the Middle East. He has also nominated 7-year-old Darci Brahma gelding Parsifal and Second Slip, a 5-year-old son of Alamosa.
“Will is a young up-and-coming trainer based in Adelaide,” said Panozzo. “He’s built a reputation by getting horses and then turning their form around. He’s got a very good eye and he’s very thorough.”
The Dubai World Cup Carnival, featuring eight weeks of racing and more than $7.5 million in prize money, begins on Jan. 13 and runs until Super Saturday, on March 5. The $30.5 million Dubai World Cup meeting takes place on March 26.