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Dubai Sheema Classic preview

The focus of world racing this weekend will be on Dubai with the rich World Cup meeting at Meydan. Most races will be covered on the blog, and to begin proceedings, it's over to Harriet Fuller, @HattieLFuller, for the USD$5m Dubai Sheema Classic. You can read more of her work on her blog.

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Dubai Sheema Classic

The Sheema Classic may not be the highlight of Saturday’s meeting at Meydan, but it will be a contest full of class. This year we have sadly lost the last hero of this race; St Nicholas Abbey, who lost his battle against colic. However, once again there is a strong line up, including Cirrus Des Aigles. The winner of this race in 2012 may be past his sell by date, but ran a credible third in the Hong Kong Cup in December, and there may well be one last celebration.

A lot of the talk recently has been surrounding the Japanese superstar Gentildonna. In 2012 she won the Japanese Fillies Triple Crown, before becoming the first three-year-old filly to win the Japan Cup. Back in November last year, under Ryan Moore – who takes the ride on her again on Saturday – she became the first horse to win the Japan Cup twice. Moore has talked up her chances before the race, but she will have to overcome a rather undesirable draw in stall 12.

The Japanese will also be represented by Denim And Ruby who was narrowly beaten by Gentildonna in the Japan Cup. Clearly full of potential, the four-year-old filly may just find this race too challenging, and there are others who have more appeal.

Ten of the last twelve winners were among the four top rated horses in the race, this year they include Cirrus Des Aigles, Dominant, Dunaden, Gentildonna, Magician and Twilight Eclipse (There are six because of three joint fourths).

Dominant tends to be a late runner and preferably needs a strong pace, which he may not get here, and Dunaden hasn’t won in eleven races. The case against Twilight Eclipse is that he has never won when in Group 1 Company, and Saturday looks tougher than some of his previous races.

It is Magician who, so to speak, has all the tricks needed to be victorious in the Sheema Classic. As far as trends go in the race, wins at Group 1 level are vital, and Magician has plenty to show for that. A disappointing performance in the St James Palace Stakes, he certainly made amends when winning the Breeders Cup, defeating The Fugue in the process. That is no easy job, and the victory puts him in a very good position for Saturday, and drawn in stall 4, there is every chance he will pull a winning performance out of the hat.

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