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by Geir Stabell / Globeform
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Mental looks the one to beat in this year's Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1), a race his owners Godolphin have yet to win, believe it or not. Judged on his seasonal debut run here at Meydan in February, Mental has the class to become the first 'all blue' winner of the $2 million dollar sprint.

He was a steadily improving sprinter in Australia last year, when trained by Peter Snowden, and it did not come as a suprise to see him win the Al Shindagha Sprint (G3) over the Golden Shaheen course and distance in February. Mental had finished on a high in Australia last year, when landing the valuable Patinack Farm Classic (G1) at Flemington carrying Sheikh Mohammed's famous maroon and white silks. He gained revenge on Sea Siren that day, reversing the placings from their meeting in the Manikato Stakes (G1) at Moonee Valley just over two weeks earlier. Defeating Sea Siren, who had three previous Group One wins on his CV in 2012, was an excellent feat by Mental. He came from just off the pace to put pressure on the favourite 200 metres from the winning post, and edged away to beat him by three parts of a length. Hallowell Belle, previously winner of the Gilhai Stakes (G2) and fourth in the Manikato, came home in third, ahead of Concorde Stakes (G2) winner Tiger Tees.

Three months later, Mental made a perfect start to his UAE career when beating 13 rivals in great style in the Al Shindagha Sprint. He was having his first taste of racing on a Tapeta track, while at the same time tackling the same distance at the Golden Shaheen, undoubtedly the race that had brought him from Australia to Dubai.

His first run at Meydan suggests that there is more to come. Mental was an impressive off-the-pace winner, as he made recovering from a slow start look so easy and beat Kavanagh comfortably by a length. Last year's Golden Shaheen winner Krypton Factor ran on from the pack to finish third. The most impressive aspect to this performance was the fact that Mental was giving weight to his rivals and proved so far superior. How can any of them hope to beat him at level weights on the last Saturday in March? Kavanagh gave Mental's form a nice boost by winning next time out, taking a strong handicap under a tough weight, and all these formlines point to one conclusion; Mental must be one of the favourites for the Golden Shaheen.

Mental's sire, Lonhro, was a top class performer from 1400 to 2000 metres who also owned enough speed to win a Group 3 over 1200 metres. Lonhro was successful in several Group One events, including prestigious races like the Yalumba Stakes, Mackinnon Stakes and Orr Stakes. He was also third in a Cox Plate (G1). His record as a stallion has not been disappointing. Besided Mental, he has also sired Group One stars Pierro, Denman (AUS) and Benfica. Mental's dam, the winning Night Shift daughter Intrigues, has also produced the winner Finagle, who is a son of Lonhro's Group One winning brother Niello. Mental's second dam is the famous Australian champion Shaybisc, and this is a family that has thrown up many smart performers.

Unfortunately, Mental is a gelding, so will never be able to make his contribution to the family tree.

Last update: 2013-03-23 06:52:59 (First published: 2013-03-07 12:11:17 )

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