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Sheema Classic: Wide open turf contest
by Handicappers ( / Globeform (
Last update: 2008-03-27 08:00:32 (First published: 2008-03-13 08:03:36 )

Nad Al Sheba: The 12-furlong Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) is always a top class race and the 2008 renewal will is hardly going to disappoint.

It is hard to predict the betting favourite in this event. It may be ‘King George’ and ‘Arc’ runner-up Youmzain, who was third in this event twelve months ago, or it could be the Hong Kong star Viva Pataca. Germany’s rising Quijano also holds strong claims, as does the flashy mare Sun Classique, who represents South Africa.



Nad Al Sheba 29 March 2008 – 2400 m. Turf

Horses presented with sires best Globeform
ratings achieved, and riders / (1 length = 1,5lbs)

122 – YOUMZAIN (Sinndar) / R Hughes
121 – VIVA PATACA (Marju) / D Beadman
121 – QUIJANO (Acatenango) A Starke
117 – WEST WIND (Machiavellian) + filly / K McEvoy
120 – DOCTOR DINO (Muhtathir) / O Peslier
119 – LATENCY (Slew Gin Fizz) / J Mendez
114 – SUN CLASSIQUE (Fuji Kiseki) + mare / K Shea
118 – BETTER TALK NOW (Talking Man) / R Dominguez
117 – ORACLE WEST (Western Winter) J Murtagh
110 – GOWER SONG (Singspiel) + mare / T Durcan
114 – SPRING HOUSE (Chester House) + / G Gomez
112 – MOURILYAN (Desert Prince) + / M Kinane
114 – DANSANT (Dansili) + / J Spencer
115 – YELLOWSTONE (Rock Of Gibraltar) / J Egan
113 – SUSHISAN (Fuji Kiseki) / R Moore
111 – GRAVITAS (Mark Of Esteem) + / L Dettori

A “+” after name of horse indicates improvement expected.

Mares receive a 4.4lb sex allowance.
For direct comparison with males add 4.4 pounds to ratings.

Youmzain was third in this event twelve months ago, when he finished best of all after a moderate pace scenario – which handed the race on a plate to the front-running Hong Kong champion Vengeance Of Rain. Youmzain was unlucky. Let’s hope he gets a strong pace to close into this time. If he does, he will not be easy to beat. As we saw in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) last year, Youmzain belongs with the very best over this distance. He pressed Dylan Thomas all out in Paris, where he lost by just a nose – and he had also been second to the same rival in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) at Ascot in the summer. Youmzain is tough, game and honest, and he deserves a high profile win, no doubt about that. Reports from his work at home in England have been positive. There are no official workouts recorded there but Youmzain has been ‘busy’ and he looks very fit. We know he likes the course, and we know he will like the ground. At around 5-1, he is an interesting bet.

Viva Pataca is the favourite with most bookmakers, probably much based on the fact that he has been out – and won – already this year. The ex-English runner (who used to be Comic Strip) has strong form and he won easily at Sha Tin last time out but it is somewhat difficult to imagine Viva Pataca getting within a head of Dylan Thomas, as Youmzain did in the Arc. He had to settle for second when he clashed with Ramonti in the Hong Kong Cup (G1) last December and he was an odds-on shot when beating Floral Pegasus by 2 ¾ lengths in the Hong Kong Gold Cup (G1) last month. That said, Viva Pataca is as genuine as racehorses come, he stays 12 furlongs, and he looked as good as ever at Sha Tin. But should he be a 2-1 favourite in a heat like this? No he should not.

Quijano at 10-1 looks too big, and he is a sensible each-way bet. Quijano went really well over this course and distance at the Carnival last year and, though he was well beaten in the Sheema then, he is a leading contender this time around. Quijano is a late developing German horse, he improved steadily in 2007 and won a Group One at home. His seasonal debut in Dubai was very encouraging, as he was running well until ‘blowing up’ inside the final furlong. As he was carrying a Group One penalty, the performance came back strong on figures. He is probably improving still and he has a sound chance.

West Wind is a relatively lightly raced 4-year-old filly who joined Godolphin after a good campaign in Sheikh Mohammed’s silks in France last year, when she gained classic success by landing the Prix de Diane (G1) at Chantilly in June, beating Mrs Lindsay (subsequent winner of two G1 races). Originally pencilled in for the Duty Free, West Wind was rerouted to the Sheema when Literato made the opposite switch. With her fillies’ allowance, she comes in her with a shot – though one gets the feeling that this is just a starting point to the new season for her, not a race she has been primed for. If she is in top form, or even improved, she is a danger to all.

Doctor Dino proved himself at the top level last season, when he also showed incredible durability and versatility. He ran third to Jambalaya in the Arlington Million (G1) in Chicago, then won the Man o’War Stakes (G1) in New York, before taking third behind Literato in the Champion Stakes (G1) in England, and finally winning the Hong Kong Vase (G1) at Sha Tin. He beat Quijano by 1 ½ lengths in Hong Kong and there is little between these two horses. Quijano has a run under his belt and is therefore preferred this time.

Latency, who is a whopping 40-1 with some future books in England, is a horse one simply cannot resist backing here. Take him each-way (place & show) and you have an 8-1 bet about him finishing in the top three. True, he was badly beaten here in the Maktoum Challenge on dirt, but he was poorly ridden that day (too far back off a slow pace) and his best form in South America came over this distance on turf. See more about this contender in his horse bio.


The pace scenario
looks dangerous here. There is not much early speed in the mix, hardly any in fact, and a slowly run race will not suit a horse like Youmzain, who would be our selection if we had a guaranteed honest pace, nor the Godolphin filly West Wind, who is the most likely improver in the field. As she is a G1 winner over 10.5 furlongs, perhaps she is one of those who would be least compromised by a lack of pace though. Viva Pataca should also be relatively happy if they go steady early on. He has high class form over 10 furlongs.

One horse that seems quite interesting, under these circumstances, is the German challenger Quijano. He is quite versatile, and he has shown good form when ridden close to the pace and when held up. He raced prominently throughout when beating Oracle West over this course and distance last year, and again when he won the Grosser Preis von Baden (G1) in Germany (where he took the lead 300 metres out). Andreas Starke is probably happy with his low draw, as it gives him the opportunity of taking up a position just behind the early leaders and save ground. Quijano gets the nod in this office, in what is a wide, wide open race.




EACH-WAY: 2 Quijano (14-1 Bluesquare)


A: 2 with 5, 12 / 5, 12 with 2 (4)
B: 2 with 1, 3, 4, 10, 13, 15 (6)
C: 1, 3, 4, 10, 13, 15 with 2 (6)


A: 2, 5, 12 boxed / combined (6)

B: 2 with 5, 12 with 1, 3, 4, 10, 13, 15 (12)
C: 2 with 1, 3, 4, 10, 13, 15 with 5,12 (12)
D: 5, 12 with 2 with 1, 3, 4, 10, 13, 15 (12)
E: 5, 12 with 1, 3, 4, 10, 13, 15 with 2 (12)


A: 2 with 5, 12 with 5, 12 with 1, 3, 4, 10, 13, 15 (12)
B: 2 with 5, 12 with 1, 3, 4, 10, 13, 15 with 5, 12 (12)
C: 2 with 1, 3, 4, 10, 13, 15 with 5, 12 with 5, 12 (12)

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