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Time analysis and the Dubai Sheema Classic preview

It's been a while since sectional analyst Steve Lines contributed on the blog, so not only do we have a preview of one of the features from Dubai World Cup night, but also an editorial on recent developments in the racing industry. You can follow Steve on Twitter via @sjlone1.


I missed the Brocklesby – what price did Rory Jiwani quote the winner for the 2015 Triumph? I didn’t see the reams of advertising highlighting so-and-so tipping multiple winners so I presume Cheltenham was a tough gig for those who get paid whether their selections win or lose. Forget getting your kids into law, medicine or computer programming; racing journalism is the job. Nepotism with an ability to continually comment about the cold weather seems the best way to secure a position – and don’t get me started on The Morning Line! Just who in hell is the new format aimed at? I shamefully admit I tuned in for a second time with a ‘car crash' fascination but I felt acutely embarrassed for Timeform Jim so switched to the lesser of two evils - Man v Food.

As a follower of race times I was interested in the use of Cheltenham sectionals but without James Willoughby not much of use was gleaned; although without a database of past times comparison is difficult. Comparing the times against my database shows Our Conor is a very smart animal – shhhhh I don’t think anybody else noticed…..Initially the time seemed slow but when adjusted for the going – he’s the real deal, although he still has to overcome 5 year olds poor showing in the Champion hurdle. There are two less obvious revelations from the sectionals. Simonsig did remarkably well to win (and must have had a tough race) after pulling so hard against fast early fractions; overall he was still slightly slower than Sprinter Sacre. I see the strategy to keep them apart is already being implemented with SS being entered in the 2 ½ miler at Aintree. Most would have expected Simonsig to stretch out but NJH may have a problem getting him to settle – run them more often I hear you shout. That aint going to happen while kudos is more important than prizemoney! Incidentally this is now the close season for owners and trainers to complain about prizemoney as they shirk good money and easy pickings for a jolly at Aintree, Punchestown et al. The open season begins after Whitbread day….alright Betfred day if you must.

The ‘sexy’ horse going into the Festival is now the forgotten horse. I think My Tent Or Yours originally snuck under Mr Henderson’s radar. Rushed to get a handicap mark to compete in the Schweppes…alright Tote Gold Trophy if you must; this is not the preparation to win a novice race at Cheltenham. Don’t believe me? Find a wet afternoon and check the record of last time out handicap winners in novice events at the annual tweed ’n’cords fest. Trained for the race and coming off a fast pace set by Overturn, yes Overturn, 10/1 seems a good price for the 2014 Champion. The only F in the O (fly in the ointment) (Luck & Willoughby 2012); the RUK preferred colloquialism to Paul Morrison’s N in the W, is that he’ll be 7 next year - ideal Arkle age. No problem, somebody will be NRNB shortly…..


The Dubai World Cup meeting can be tough punting with Group 1 animals shipping in to mix it with lesser but acclimatized, race fit rivals. The Dubai Sheema Classic is no different with Group 1 winners Shareta, St Nicholas Abbey, Gentildonna, Girolamo and Dunaden all making their seasonal debut.

I like Dunaden. Since 2010 in races over 12f in fields of 12 or less he has the form figures 5,6,2,3,3,2. Compare that with larger fields figures of 5,1,1,1,1,1,2,3,2; as a Melbourne Cup winner stamina is his strong point and although Royal Diamond and Await The Dawn should ensure a good pace - I’m out.

Former maiden hurdler Royal Diamond’s wins have all come over 14f. Next.

The other pace in the race is Await The Dawn. Originally with A P O’Brien he has so far come up short in Group 1 company; although Mike De Kock regularly improves his new inmates, and he is playing in his own backyard, it’s difficult to believe something won’t pick him off.

Prince Bishop’s last win came as 11/8 favourite in a handicap, the only time he’s managed a win before July! Jockey Mickael Barzalona’s halo has slipped; it’s been rumoured Godolphin share the same recruitment agency as Chelsea….

The other Godolphin runner Sharestan steps up in trip but has shown nothing to suggest a Group 1 is imminent.

Good luck with Trailblazer’s Japanese form! Closely matched with St Nicholas Abbey and Shareta on Breeders Cup Turf running if the cards drop correctly he could well fall in but at 0-7 in Group 1 company – each way appeals.

The other Japanese entrant, and likely favourite, is Gentildonna. Priced up on her win over Arc second Orfevre in the Japan Cup she had been previously beating up the same horses. Although Orfevre is an extremely talented animal he is slightly scatty so the form may flatter. As a filly on the back of 125 day layoff on her first race outside Japan should she be 6/4? I think not.

Very Nice Name has appealing form figures and has won a ‘Local Group 1’ in Qatar – whether that increases his local stud fee I’m not sure but the price of 100/1 shows his chance!

Girolamo looked unsuited by Goodwood’s undulations in the Gordon stakes but then went on to win a Group 1 in his native Germany. A short-round action it is no surprise to see he has yet to encounter the fast conditions he will meet here.

Over 12f, good or faster going on a left-handed track ST NICHOLAS ABBEY has form figures 3,1,2,1,1 with his defeats coming in this race last year behind Cirrus Des Aigles and in the Breeders Cup Turf behind Little Mike. He is a bit soft in the fact he needs everything to be in his favour and prefers a strong pace but he has a good turn of foot under these conditions, I would have him a 5/2 shot rather than 7/2.

Shareta has yet to win on her seasonal debuts. Add this to the fact she has yet to win in 5 attempts outside her own sex group then 6/1 looks decidedly skinny.

No doubt St Nicholas Abbey will find some way to get beaten but at 7/2 he has to be in the portfolio. Trailblazer makes most appeal as an each way saver.


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