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Golden Shaheen: Highly competitive sprint!
by Handicappers (handicappers@globeform.com) / Globeform (http://www.globeform.com)
Last update: 2007-03-28 06:35:28 (First published: 2007-03-16 14:37:15 )


Nad Al Sheba 31 Mar: Thor’s Echo, bought from North America after winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) and DeFrancis Memorial Dash (G1) last year, was a big dissapointment on his seasonal debut.

As a result, not many have been scared off by his presence in the Goden Shaheen (G1), a race US trainers have done so well in over the years. He is not the only contender with stars and stripes in his formbook. Taking up the challenge are three he beat the Breeders’ Cup; his runner-up Friendly Island, as well as the third placed Nightmare Affair and the Churchill Downs 6-furlong record holder Kelly’s Landing - who will be ridden by Frankie Dettori on Saturday.

Harvard Avenue and Bishop Court Hill are also having a crack at the valuable sprint down the straightway in Dubai. Add in South Africa’s fast mare National Colour, who fits in well after an impressive win here in February, and this looks highly competitive!

As a result, not many have been scared off by his presence in the Goden Shaheen (G1), a race US trainers have done so well in over the years. He is not the only contender with stars and stripes in his formbook. Taking up the challenge are three he beat the Breeders’ Cup; his runner-up Friendly Island, as well as the third placed Nightmare Affair and the Churchill Downs 6-furlong record holder Kelly’s Landing - who will be ridden by Frankie Dettori on Saturday.
Harvard Avenue and Bishop Court Hill are also having a crack at the valuable sprint down the straightway in Dubai. Add in South Africa’s fast mare National Colour, who fits in well after an impressive win here in February, and this looks highly competitive!

GLOBEFORM RATINGS
DUBAI GOLDEN SHAHEEN (G1)

Nad Al Sheba 31 March 2007 – 1200 metres / 6 furlongs dirt (straight)

Horses presented with best Globeform, sires, riders.
A ”+” after horse indicates improvement expected.

122 – THOR’S ECHO (Swiss Yodeler) / T Durcan
115 – NATIONAL COLOUR (National Assembly) + m / W Marwing (4.4lbs sex all.)
117 – NIGHTMARE AFFAIR (Out of Place) / E Castro
117 – MARCHAND D’OR (Marchand de Sable) / D Bonilla
116 – FRIENDLY ISLAND (Crafty Friend) / G Gomez
116 – KELLY’S LANDING (Patton) / L Dettori
116 – HARVARD AVENUE (You and I) / C Nakatani
114 – BISHOP COURT HILL (Holy Bull) / J Velazquez
113 – TERRIFIC CHALLENGE (Royal Academy) + / R Mullen
113 – AREYOUTALKINGTOME (Singspiel) / E Ahern
113 – TIZA (Goldkeeper) K Shea
109 – SEEKING THE BEST (Seeking the Gold) / Y Fukunaga
109 – THAJJA (Daylami) / R Hills
108 – SALAAM DUBAI (Secret Savings) / J Murtagh
108 – BOUNTY QUEST (Fasliyev) / Martin Dwyer
105 – AGNES JEDI (Agnes World) / Y Take


Thor’s Echo won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Churchill Downs and the DeFrancis Memorial Dash (G1) at Laurel on his last two starts in 2006, before being sold out of Doug O’Neill’s US barn. He was second in the Golden Shaheen last year, and he is probably the one they all have to beat this time – despite running below form on his first start of the year. Thor’s Echo normally needs a run after a layoff, and that may have been the main reason also when he managed only sixth behind Terrific Challenge in the Al Shimaal Stakes (G3) over this course and distance four weeks ago. He is lengths better than that run and, in fact, he does not need to be at his very best to win on Saturday.

DOWNLOAD THOR’S ECHO and other horse presentations from the GLOBEFORM ANNUAL now (in pdf-format) by clicking Globeform Annual Sample 1

Terrific Challenge improved and produced a lifetime best performance in the Al Shimaal, beating Bounty Quest by 1 ¼ lengths. These are nice sprinters but not top class – and the North Americans should prove too good for them.

One runner outside ”Team USA” to note though, is Mike de Kock’s mare National Colour. She was quite impressive as she beat Bounty Quest readily by 1 ¾ lengths over 5 furlongs here at Nad Al Sheba in February. She possesses excellent speed and has the class to beat most of these rivals. Her sex allowance gives her a good chance at weights / ratings. She beat Tiza in great style when winning the Mercury Sprint (G1) over 6 furlongs at Clairwood last summer but the latter has not been up to such form lately.

Now, on to the bunch on North Americans. They have sent better horses than these; Caller One for instance, was a much better sprinter than Nightmare Affair, Friendly Island, Kelly’s Landing, Harvard Avenue and Bishop Court Hill. These US sprinters – all but Harvard Avenue – have one big advantage though; their speed from the gate is superior to the locally trained runners.

Harvard Avenue’s presence here is a bit puzzling. He is a high class horse over 7 furlongs, but he is a slow starter, and we were expecting to see him in the Godolphin Mile. He is one of our favourite horses, and we have made money from this horse when he has been in the ’right spots’ – but he is one we take a chance at tossing out here. He will be finishing well but probably come from too far back to win.

Friendly Island is speedy, as we saw when he ran second to Thor’s Echo in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) last year. He was hardly out of the first four in that contest, racing by the rail, and he ran on well – but was beaten 4 lengths by the winner. He had Nightmare Affair half a length behind him, with Kelly’s Landing well beaten back in tenth. Kelly’s Landing actually holds the track record for 6 furlongs at Churchill Downs, having run the distance in a sharp 1:07.4 when winning the Aristides Handicap (G3) back in June 2005.

Friendly Island, also then ridden by Garrett Gomez, has already won a valable sprint this term. He beat Harvard Avenue in the 6-furlong Palos Verdes Handicap (G2) at Santa Anita in January. Favored by the slow early pace, he quickened away at the top of the lane and won by 2 ½ lengths. Harvard Avenue was closing, but had too much to do, he just got the better of Limited Creole for second. Harvard Avenue needs a better pace than he got that day.

The Todd Pletcher trained Palos Verdes winner may be the best US based hope in this Golden Shaheen. He was second to Thor’s Echo in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) in November. Only four ran in the $150,000 Palos Verdes, and the winning time was 1:08.95 after opening fractions of 22.5 and 45.3.

Bishop Court Hill, also trained by Pletcher, comes here off a game win at Aqueduct, a track he has been so good over. He is a Grade One winner and therefore quite a high profile horse, but Bishop Court Hill is not a top class horse – and it is hard to imagine 6-furlong sprints more dissimilar than Aqueduct and Nad Al Sheba. He had quite a busy, and profitable, season at five. He found form early and late, hitting the headlines when carrying 115lbs to beat Sir Greeley (116lbs) by a neck in the 7/furlong Carter Handicap (G1) last April. Racing over a sloppy track, Bishop Court Hill led from start to finish, and just held a determined challenge by Sir Greeley. The time was more than 3 seconds outside the track record, and the third placed Big Apple Daddy (114lbs) also dragged the form down – as he was just ¾ length behind Sir Greeley. It was not a particularly strong Grade 1.
Bishop Court Hill opened the 2007 season by landing the Paumonok Hcap (for the second time), beating Attila’s Storm by 2 ¼ lengths after enjoying an uncontested lead.

Nightmare Affair makes more appeal. He has run to higher ratings, and he has shown better early speed. He produced GF 117 twice at Calder in Florida last summer; to win the Champali Stakes (by 3 ½ lengths from Universal Form) and the Smile Sprint Handicap (G2) – where he beat the G1 winner Pomeroy readily by 2 lengths. This was the last two of four straight wins, and when Nightmare Affair hits form he normally keeps it for a few runs. He suffered traffic problems at the Breeders’ Cup and never got the chance to show his absolute best. If he had, he probably would have taken second. He has run solid races at Gulfstream Park, Calder, Tampa Bay and Churchill Downs, and coming to a new venue is unlikely to bother him much. He should have a chance of hitting the board.

He was unusually slow from the gates, and soon beaten, when only fifth in the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita in January – another bad start like that, and he will be in trouble here though.

Marchand de ’Or, winner of the 2006 Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1), makes his dirt track debut but, with an all weather track in place at Deauville, this French contender has probably been well prepared. Previously seen at his best over 7 furlongs, Marchand d’Or took the spoils in the 6.5-furlong turf sprint, bursting clear against the rails over a furlong out and coming home 2 lengths clear of Satri, another who had shown form over longer trips previously.

The gelded son of middle distance winner Marchand de Sable had won three of his six previous starts including the 7-furlong Prix de la Porte Maillot (G3) at Longchamp – by 3 lengths from Ridaar - and a Listed race over the same trip. On his second start of the campaign, he had run the subsequent G1-winning miler Stormy River (Duty Free runner) to three parts of a length. Marchand d’Or only ran once after the Maurice de Gheest, in the Prix de la Foret (G1) over 7 furlongs at Longchamp, where he finished seventh to Caradak. The race was run at a crawl early on, he was stopped in his run at a crucial stage, and still finished only a length behind the winner. This grey’s best form to date has been at the unusual trip of 6.5 furlongs but his form does not yet match up to the best of the European five and six furlong sprinters. On turf, he can show speed from the start and race from the front, or settle early on before coming from behind.

Quite where does he fit in here? Hard to say. It is impossible to dismiss him, as he has shown such smart form in France, and breaking between Kelly’s Landing and Thor’s Echo he has been well drawn. An intriguing runner indeed!

PS – Areyoutalkingtome is an English runner, and not the very useful US sprinter with the same name. This contender is coming off good wins on all weather tracks in England, but appears to be taking quite a step up in class here.

GLOBEFORM SELECTIONS

A: 5 THOR’S ECO
B: 8 FRIENDLY ISLAND, 15 NATIONAL COLOUR
C: 3 KELLY’S LANDING, 13 HARVARD AVENUE, 16 NIGHTMARE AFFAIR

RECOMMENDED BETS WILL BE POSTED FRIDAY EVENING










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