Saturday, 31 March 2012

Dubai Sheema Classic

It's my turn for this one, too good a race not to be covered!

Songcraft - The least-exposed of these with only five starts under his belt, two low-grade wins in France, followed by two wins in Meydan and then close up behind Mikhail Glinka and Cavalryman in a Group II this month, after being held up down the straight. Still improving but surely a little out of his depth at this stage of his career. Could be an ideal Melbourne Cup horse later this year.

Bold Silvano - too bad to be true here last start, I doubt De Kock would be backing him up if anything was seriously wrong on the day. Won the G1 Durban July in 2010, and then a G3 on Tapeta here last year. Couple of real stars in this, racing for place money at best.

Beaten Up - won all three starts in Britain last season, going from a lowly Ripon maiden to the GIII St Simon Stakes at Newbury by four-and-a-half lengths. Rapid improver but taking on some real class here. His first real test and being a gelding, this is as big as his career can go.

Mahbooba - another Mike de Kock runner and has a sensational record here - three wins, three seconds and a third from seven starts, almost entirely in fillies and mares events. The only time she has competed against the boys was the third, in the UAE derby at this meeting last year. Not quite up to these.

Cavalryman - came home late to run third behind Mikhail Glinka three weeks ago, his best run since running third in the Arc behind Sea The Stars back in 2009. Hasn't won for 2.5 years and can't see him breaking that drought here, even with Dettori aboard.

Treasure Beach - first run on Tapeta which will suit his on-pace style. With Spencer aboard he can control the race, maybe too well for the likes of his stablemate if he gets an easy run in front. Irish Derby and Secretariat Stakes winner last season, definite chance.

Jakkalberry - star in Italy but that form doesn't measure up at the elite level. Outsider of the field for a reason.

Cirrus des Aigles - possibly the best gelding in the world so this is big race of the year. Victory would more than double his prizemoney, not bad considering he's already won 13 races. Returns to his favoured turf surface (just one win from eight on AW), will be primed for this.

St Nicholas Abbey - Breeders Cup Turf winner on the tight Churchill Downs grass track, and fifth in the Arc de Triomphe last year. Won three around this distance in 2011, biggest concern for me is how warm the stable is at this time of year. Just one win from 18 turf runners this week and traditionally they aim for the big races further into the season. Could be the exception but wouldn't be backing him too short on that.

Shimraan - beaten a fair way behind Mikhail Glinka last time, looks out of his depth, however, did finish barely a length behind Cirrus des Aigles in the Prix Dollar last October (CdA's excuse for being beaten by Byword was track too firm). Has Barzalona on board, can't rule him out.

VERDICT

Huge fan of Cirrus des Aigles, it's a tragedy he can't run in races like the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe just because he's had the snip. Songcraft and Shimraan could throw some value into exotics if the pools are decent.

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