Newmarket, England: The Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) is a very open-looking affair and one crucial question is: will there be an honest pace?
Looking at the field, that does not seem too likely and a slowly-run race is often tricky to predict. It may suit the lone US runner Main Sequence better than most, as he has become used to running in turf races lacking pace in North America.
And he has overcome it many times by producing an explosive turn of foot at the finish. He was winning his fifth race on the bounce when preparing for the Sheema Classic at Gulfstream Park in Florida last month.
Last year, he won prestigious Grade One events at Monmouth Park, Belmont Park, Saratoga and Santa Anita, where he flew past Flintshire to capture the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) by half a length.
Main Sequence might improve again this term, this is his ideal distance, he adapts really well to different courses and he is my narrow selection.
Designs On Rome, who has produced Globeform 123 in Hong Kong, is a big danger though. He stretched out from 2,000 metres to 2,400 metres and would not mind a steady pace over 2,410 metres on Saturday. Dolniya is a filly on the upgrade and she beat Flintshire when both horses reappeared over 1,900 metres at Chantilly in France.
Flintshire was better than her when taking second in last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, however, and he is such a tough and consistent horse — and with plenty of international experience.
After his second to Main Sequence in California, Flintshire took the Hong Kong Vase (G1) over this distance at Sha Tin.
Harp Star is also good enough to win this edition of the Sheema, but her connections will not be happy if the pace is moderate, as she likes to come from the back of the field.
Give her a strong pace to close into and Harp Star may be right there at the finish. Give her a slowly-run event, and she will be compromised.
Just The Judge and Sheikhzayedroad are also G1 winners but must be long shots to win this race.
— The author is the editor of Newmarket-based independent racing and handicapping publication globeform.co.uk