Sheema Classic: Gentildonna heads strong field
by Geir Stabell (email@example.com) / Globeform (http://www.globeform.com)
Last update: 2013-03-29 06:55:32 (First published: 2013-03-26 04:07:01 )
Meydan: Gentildonna, winner of the Japan Cup and Triple Tiara at home last year, heads an accomplished field for the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) on Saturday.
She is set to meet last year's runner-up, the Irish trained St Nicholas Abbey, as well as Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden, the high class French mare Shareta and Mike de Kock's back-to-form Await The Dawn.
DUBAI SHEEMA CLASSIC (G1)
Meydan 30 March 2013 / 2400 metres Turf
Runners presented with best Globeform rating, trainer, jockey
122 - GENTILDONNA / Sei Ishizaka / Yasunari Iwata
120 - SHARETA / Alain de Royer-Dupre / C-P Lemaire
123 - ST NICHOLAS ABBEY / Aidan O'Brien / Jospeh O'Brien
123 - AWAIT THE DAWN / Mike de Kock / Pat Cosgrave
121 - DUNADEN / Mikael Delzangles / Jamie Spencer
120 - TRAILBLAZER / Yasotoshi Ikee / Yutake Take
115 - GIROLAMO (GER) / Peter Schiergen / Andreasch Starke
115 - SHARESTAN / Saeed bin Suroor / Silvestre de Sousa
113 - PRINCE BISHOP / Saeed bin Suroor / Mickael Barzalona
112 - VERY NICE NAME / Alban de Mieulle / Olivier Peslier
111 - ROYAL DIAMOND / Thomas Carmody / Johnny Murtagh
Gentildonna and Shareta: 2kg (4.4lbs) sex weight allowance.
Add 4.4lbs to their ratings for direct comparison with the males
GENTILDONNA is a filly that will get a lot of attention on World Cup night. Whether she will be the favourite or not, as she goes for the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) over 2400 metres on the turf course, is hard to say – but she will certainly be amongst those strongly fancied to win the $5 event. Two ladies have beaten the boys in the Sheema over the years, Sun Classique for South Africa in 2008 and Dar Re Mi for England two years later. They were both aged five when winning at Meydan, while Gentildonna comes here as a four-year-old.
A four year-old with excellent form in the book and also a four-year-old entitled to improve. It goes without saying that she will be hard to beat. The daughter of Deep Impact was an absolute sensation last year, when she swept the fillies' Triple Crown before taking on both males and older horses with success in the Japan Cup (G1) over 2400 metres at Tokyo racecourse last November. Three-year-old fillies have a poor record in the Japan Cup, making her win over the mighty Orfevre even more meritorious. It was also some result the Shadai racing club Sunday Racing Co. Ltd., owners of both these top class performers. They flashed past the post inseparable to the naked eye, after having come a bit too close for comfort in the closing stages, but there was to be no repeat of the controversial disqualification of Buena Vista when she intimidated Rose Kingdom in Japan's biggest race two years earlier. By the way, those two were also owned by Sunday Racing Co. Talking about 'deja vu'...
The photo finish revealed that Gentildonna had just managed to beat Orferve, she hit the line a nose sooner than he did. It was her sixth race from seven starts, and her fifth on the trot. Orfevre was coming off a good (and unlucky) second to Solemia in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) at Longchamp in Paris and Rulership, who finished third behind Gentildonna in the Japan Cup, had won two Group One events earlier in the season (once even when racing against Orfevre).
Japan's best filly had just taken her game to a new level. Gentildonna, a daughter of the Japanese Triple Crown champion Deep Impact, was voted Horse of The Year 2012 in Japan, and if she runs up to her best at Meydan, well, then her 2013 campaign will be off to an excellent start. She has a high cruising speed and is thus able to find a good position not to far off the early leaders, and she always produces a smart turn of foot at the finish. Gentildonna has won over 1600 metres, but 2400 metres is her ideal distance. That is also the distance of the 'Sheema', a race she has been trained for all winter.
Her sire Deep Impact was a Triple Crown winner and twice Horse of The Year in Japan, and he has been just as successful at stud. So far, he is doing particularly well with his daughters. Besides Gentildonna and also her Japanese Oaks runner-up, Verxina, and the juvenile champion filly Joie de Vivre, Deep Impact has also sired the very smart filly Beauty Parlour, whose win in last year's Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (G1) made him the first Japanese based stallion to sire a classic winner in Europe. Deep Impact the great stallion Sunday Silence's best son on the racecourse and he was also impeccably bred. His dam, the English trained Wind In Her Hair, became a Group One winner by taking the Aral Pokal (G1) in Germany, having previously been second to Godolphin's star filly Balanchine in the Epsom Oaks (G1).
Gentildonna's dam was also top class; her name was Donna Blini, a daughter of Bertolini who completed the Cherry Hinton (G2) / Cheveley Park Stakes (G1) double at Newmarket as a two-year-old.
SHARETA is another who could strike for the girls in the Sheema. She has been one of the best fillies in Europe the past two years, and 2400 metres is her optimum trip. She first made her presence felt at the top level when second to the German champion Danedream in the 2011 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1). It seemed like unbelievable improvement but Shareta has since showed that it was no coincidence. After a couple of solid runner-up efforts last summer (behind eventual 'Arc' winner Solemia and World Cup contender Meandre), Shareta went on to a lucrative Group One double; she outbattled The Fugue to win the Yorkshire Oaks (G1) in England by a neck, then proved way too good for Pirika in the Prix Vermeille (G1) in Paris. The daughter of Sinndar streaked clear to win by 2 lengths. Back in third was Solemia. She was going to gain revenge when they met in the Arc three weeks later, though Shareta had a valid excuse on the big day. The ground is the key to many racehorses and none more so than Shareta. She cares little for heavy going and that was what she encountered on Arc day. She was never happy and when jockey Lemaire eased her close home she dropped even further back, to finish ninth. Four weeks later Shareta travelled to Santa Anita in California, where she got her preferred ground conditions in the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1). Still, she could managed only fifth, 2 ½ lengths behind Duty Free contender Little Mike. Whether she had lost her form is hard to say. The lack of early pace maye have been just as big a factor. Shareta, who is owned by her breeder HH The Aga Khan and trained Alain de Royer-Dupre, is at her best over courses with long straights, as she is the type who winds her speed up gradually at the finish.
ST NICHOLAS ABBEY, a good runner-up in this event twelve months ago, is also in with a good chance. This Irish trained runner captured the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) in 2011 and last year he was an impressive winner of the Coronation Cup (G1) at Epsom in England (beat Red Cadeaux by 4 ½ lengths), and he was later on third in three G1 events; behind Danedream in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, behind Snow Fairy in the Irish Champion Stakes (G1) at Leopardstown and finally behind Little Mike in the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) at Santa Anita. St Nicholas Abbey finished well here last year, to go down by just a quarter of a length to Cirrus des Aigles, who enjoyed a tactical advantage and got first run on him in the straight. If St Nicholas Abbey runs up to his very best, well then he most certainly will make an impact. Though this year's 'Sheema' is an open affair with several strong candidates.
AWAIT THE DAWN is another well worth considering. He was deeply impressive when carrying top weight to a facile handicap win here two starts back, but badly compromised by a ridiculously slow pace when running second as a heavy favourite in the Dubai City of Gold (G2) on Super Saturday. Await The Dawn was previously trained by Aidan O'Brien in Ireland, and he was brilliant when landing the Hardwicke Stakes (G2) over 1 ½ miles at Rtoyal Ascot in 2011. At that stage there was even talk of him being a contender for the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1). And now he has regaind his form. It may be folly to overlook this contender.
DUNADEN has played no little in a fantastic start to Pearl Bloodstock Ltd's involvement in international racing. Hand picked to go for the Melbourne Cup (G1) in Australia in 2011, he won that race by a nostril over Red Cadeaux, who will be in action in the World Cup. Dunaden may have been as lucky as he was good in 'the race that stops the nation' down under, but 40 days later he won again, and this time most impressively, as he quickened up in great style from off the pace to land the Hong Kong Vase (G1) at Sha Tin. His 2012 season yielded one win from seven runs, and that win came in the Caulfield Cup (G1) in Australia. Prepping for a defense of his Melbourne Cup title, he was once more visually impressive and beat Alcopop by half a length. The latter won the MacKinnon Stakes (G1) on his subsequent start and Dunaden was of course a popular horse amongst the punters on Melbourne Cup day. He started favourite though, for whatever reason, ran way below his true form and finished 14th behind Green Moon. Another trip to Sha Tin followed, where he finished fifth in the Hong Kong Vase (G1), 1 ¼ lengths behind his old rival Red Cadeaux.
A: 8 GENTILDONNA
B: 1 SHARETA
C: 6 ST NICHOLAS ABBEY, 7 TRAILBLAZER, 10 DUNADEN, 11 AWAIT THE DAWN
A: 8 to beat 1
B: 1 to beat 8
C: 8 to beat 6, 7, 10, 11
D: 1 to beat 6, 7, 10, 11
A: 8 with 1 with 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11
B: 8 with 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11 with 1
C: 1 with 8 with 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11
D: 1 with 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11 with 8
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