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Gentildonna Carrying Japan’s Hopes in Dubai Sheema Classic

A small but select field of 11, headed by Japanese star Gentildonna (JPN), is set for the Dubai Sheema Classic on Saturday at Dubai.

Gentildonna (JPN)

Gentildonna (JPN)

Shaping up as the one to beat since becoming the first 3-year-old filly to win the Japan Cup in November, Gentildonna is reported by her trainer, Sei Ishizaka, to be in good shape. “She did her final serious piece of work at home before getting on the plane and she worked very well,” he said. “She has settled in nicely, seems in good form and should run a big race. It would be great to win for Japan.”

Godolphin will be represented with Saeed bin Suroor saddling both Prince Bishop and Sharestan with Silvestre De Sousa aboard the latter suggesting he is their main hope: Bin Suroor said: “Sharestan won well first time and was a bit unlucky on his second run. He is trying this trip for the first time but I think he will stay and hope he runs a good race.”

Of Prince Bishop, he added : “He disappointed in last year’s Dubai World Cup but has run well on turf in the past and I think a mile and a half is the best trip for him. He is doing well and we are happy with him, though he might prefer a bit of cut in the ground.”

The Aidan O’Brien-trained St Nicholas Abbey was second in this race last year and his trainer is hoping to go one better. “He ran very well when second in the same race last year and seems in good form. We’re happy with him and hoping for another good run from from him.”

He will be ridden by the trainer’s son, Joseph.

Former stable companion, Await the Dawn is now with South African Mike De Kock and has won of his three UAE starts this year. He was second in the Dubai City of Gold on Super Saturday, and his trainer is hoping for more early pace in Saturday’s race than there was three weeks ago.

“He is a horse who has pleased us pretty much all along as he has overcome his earlier problems and has been in good shape,” he said. “He needed his first run badly and showed a great turn of foot to win his second outing before being undone by the total lack of pace on Super Saturday. He’s a smart horse, and with a bit of pace in the race and some luck he should be a player.”

Watkins photo