The $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) has attracted the smallest field on Dubai World Cup night, but its 10 entrants include some big names from three continents.
Dubai Sheema Classic – Race 8 (12:10 p.m.) ET
Mishriff, who just won the war of attrition over Charlatan in the Feb. 20 Saudi Cup, reverts to turf. But aside from the question of whether he could regress from that hard race, the John Gosden trainee is posing himself a new one – namely, is this about 1 1/2-mile trip in his compass? Mishriff’s marquee turf form is all in the vicinity of 1 1/4 miles or so, especially his victories in last summer’s French Derby (G1) and Prix Guillaume d’Ornano (G2), and his pedigree doesn’t offer robust assurance. Connections are telegraphing that this is something of a reconnaissance mission that can inform his upcoming European season.
No such doubts surround his principal rivals, including Japanese turf star Chrono Genesis. For turning the prestigious Takarazuka Kinen (G1)/Arima Kinen (G1) double over males last year, she was honored with a “Special Award” from the JRA. Ordinarily that accomplishment would have clinched at least Japanese champion older female honors. In 2020, however, she was up against the scintillating Almond Eye, who beat her into third in the Nov. 1 Tenno Sho Autumn (G1) two back.
Like half-sister Normcore, Chrono Genesis has improved with maturity. She was only third to Loves Only You in the 2019 Japanese Oaks (G1), but the two have gone in different directions. Loves Only You went winless until the Feb. 14 Kyoto Kinen (G2), interestingly at the same about 1 3/8-mile trip as her thirds in the past two editions of the Queen Elizabeth 2 Cup (G1). Loves Only You is a full sister to Real Steel, the 2016 Dubai Turf (G1) winner, so this distance might be a stretch for her now. She was 10th in the about 1 9/16-mile Arima Kinen to Chrono Genesis, who is entitled to pick up right where she left off.
So is Aidan O’Brien’s Mogul, last seen defeating his elders handily in the Hong Kong Vase (G1). One quibble regarding the son of Galileo (and full brother to Japan) is that he’s tended to need activity to bring him to full fitness. Mogul was kept busy all summer until his convincing score in the Grand Prix de Paris (G1), but didn’t race for almost two months before the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Keeneland where he checked in fifth.
The lack of pace didn’t help Mogul either, for U.S. turf champion Channel Maker did his level best to steal that Breeders’ Cup Turf. The Bill Mott veteran ultimately settled for third, outkicked by top distaffers Tarnawa and Magical. Channel Maker had a similar experience in his 2021 kickoff in the Neom Turf Cup on Saudi Cup Day, as Irish mare True Self ran him down. That’s the concern around Meydan as well, in addition to the 0-for-18 record for U.S. shippers in this race.
Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby is 2-for-2 in the Sheema, and jockey William Buick is 4-for-4, and they team up with Walton Street. Better than ever at the age of seven, the Cape Cross gelding has won both starts this Carnival in course-record time. Walton Street wired the Dubai Racing Club Classic and lowered his own mark in the City of Gold (G2) on Super Saturday. Saeed bin Suroor’s Dubai Future played second fiddle both times, with a score in between in the about 1 3/4-mile Meydan Cup. Appleby also has Star Safari, winner of two straight including a course-and-distance handicap and the Dubai Millennium (G3). The latter is staged at about 1 1/4 miles, the same distance as his course record from 2020.
Berkshire Rocco’s best form is over further, as the runner-up in last year’s St Leger (G1) and Queen’s Vase (G2) at Royal Ascot. But the Andrew Balding pupil returned with another useful second in the lucrative H. H. The Amir Trophy at this trip in Qatar.
Simsir, who shaped with promise last Carnival when trained by Michael Halford for the Aga Khan, is now with Bahraini connections. Victorious first up for Fawzi Nass in the rich Bahrain International Trophy, toppling a fine field, Simsir was a prepping fourth in the Crown Prince’s Cup. That was supposed to set him up for the Saudi Cup, but he failed to handle the dirt and trailed home last. Turf is the right call, although the distance is a question mark.