Dubai: A field of nine will make up one of the most select Dubai Sheema Classic fields ever put together on Saturday.
There are many ways this one could go, starting with the Breeders’ Cup winner Main Sequence. He has always had ability and, when trained by David Lanigan, he was placed in the Derby. His UK form tailed off after that high and he was eventually sent across the pond to be trained by Dubai World Cup winner Graham Motion.
Since the change of scenery and being able to run on diuretic drug Lasix, Main Sequence has been a revelation and he has really started to show his best form. He would be a certainty if able to race on Lasix, but even without he still has very strong claims.
Designs On Rome is probably going to be the most popular selection, having recently won the Hong Kong Gold Cup and Hong Kong Cup. Ridden by the magicman Jaoao Moreira and trained by the master John Moore, he really looks the part. He is a really smart top horse and will certainly finish in the mix.
“The horse just seems to love it here. Joao Moreira worked him on Thursday and was very pleased,” said Moore.
Flintshire is another top performer and certainly one to consider. He represents one of the greatest trainers in Andre Fabre and, with the help of Maxime Guyon, he is one to be feared.
He won the Hong Kong Vase and, in a recent prep race, was surprisingly beaten, but he needed the run and will strip fitter here.
Dolniya beat Flintshire in that trial and, on the back of that performance, has been given another crack here. If the Alain de Royer Dupre filly manages to keep up that sort of form, then she really will be a danger.
“She is a lovely filly who has strengthened up over the winter,” said her trainer. “All has gone to plan thus far.”
Sheikhzayedroad, winner of the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf, is a much underestimated horse who is a great advert for trainer David Simcock. Jockey Martin Lane gets on with him well too.
Just The Judge is another one who is a great ambassador for her trainer and Charlie Hills looks destined for the top. She won an Irish Guineas to give Hills a first classic a couple of seasons ago and she regained her form last season and looks back to her best.
“She travelled over well and did not lose much weight,” said Hills. “It is great she stays in training this year and we hope this new trip will really suit her.”
Godolphin have entered their former Derby favourite True Story. He started the Carnival well with a classy victory, but as he has gone up the Grades he has found it harder — although you should never write off a horse trained by the most successful trainer in this race, Saeed Bin Surour, as he bids for his sixth victory.
James Doyle has started his new job working for the team in great style and will hope this one can continue his run.
This race is sure to be a cracker.
— The writer is a freelance journalist and horse racing expert