/ Racing

Gentildonna bidding to go one better in Sheema Classic at Meydan

Updated: Friday, 28 Mar 2014 16:50 | Comments

Gentildonna found only the ill-fated St Nicholas Abbey too good in last season's Sheema Classic
Gentildonna found only the ill-fated St Nicholas Abbey too good in last season's Sheema Classic

Trainer Sei Ishizaka is forecasting an improved Gentildonna as the Japanese mare bids to wrestle Saturday's Dubai Sheema Classic from Ballydoyle.

Second to St Nicholas Abbey 12 months ago, she now takes on Aidan O'Brien's Magician in the mile-and-a-half turf affair and again has the assistance of Ryan Moore, who helped her claim November's Japan Cup.

Gentildonna was sixth in her comeback start at Kyoto last month and Ishizaka said: "She is in a very good mood and I can say her condition is better than last year.

"She is a type of mare whose condition is progressed in the second race up, so having a prep race coming into the this year was obviously good for her. At the moment, winning the Dubai Sheema Classic is her biggest target.

"This is her second time staying here, so she looked more relaxed and settled. From the experience of last year, we could prepare for everything including the travel issues from Japan.

"Of course she ran second in last year's race, but I think she is in better form and will show better performance."

Surprise Japan Cup runner-up Denim And Ruby is a good second-string for the country but in Magician, Gentildonna faces not only the winner of an Irish 2,000 Guineas, but the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Joseph O'Brien is on Magician but still rates stablemate Festive Cheer.

"A mile and a half is as far as he's gone and as far as he wants to go," said the jockey.

"His dam was a sprinter but this horse is quite uncomplicated.

"I don't think people should underestimate Festive Cheer. He was third in an Irish Derby and, for me, has a massive each-way chance."

Cirrus Des Aigles beat St Nicholas Abbey in the 2012 renewal and the popular French veteran is back for a second bite.

Trainer Corine Barande-Barbe said: "It's encouraging that he appears to have the same enthusiasm and ability as before.

"Christophe Soumillon (jockey) thought he ran better in his trial at Chantilly than he did in the same races two years ago."

Trainer Roger Varian said: "She looks in good shape. She's got to step up a few pounds on what she has done so far, but she may well still be on the upgrade."

Mount Athos, twice a Melbourne Cup runner for Luca Cumani, finished a close third on Super Saturday for new trainer Marco Botti, who said: "Hopefully he won't be too far away. As long as there is some early pace, he should get into a good position.

"The faster they go, the better it will be for him."

Mars, a classy performer for O'Brien, has not pulled up trees in two starts for Mike De Kock.

The South African handler said: "He has come on a lot from his latest run when the blinkers perhaps did no suit. We thought he ran well though and, hopefully, he will at least be competitive."

Frankie Dettori's Qatar-trained ride Dubday looks outclassed and Harry Herbert, representing owner Al Shaqab Racing, said: "He's a lovely horse and he is improving rapidly but he will have to.

"This looks as competitive a race as there is all night."

Former Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden is also in the field.

Trainer Mikel Delzangles said: "He is eight now. He continues to be in good form, at least in the morning he gives us the impression that he is still as good as ever.

"Now we will see what he will do in the race, which is very competitive."

User contributions and/or comments do not, unless specifically stated, represent the views of RTÉ.ie or RTÉ.
Click here for Terms of use
Powered by NewsWhip