where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2022-03-24 14:30:28  
International stars square off in quality Longines Sheema Classic

The Group 1 Longines Sheema Classic is often billed as one of the best races in the world and the 2022 edition is no exception. Won in 2021 by Saudi Cup hero Mishriff, the 2410-metre contest has attracted seven Group or Grade 1 winners this time around.

Japan went close in this race last year with second and third home, subsequent Group 1 winners Chrono Genesis and Loves Only You, and this time they have a third of the field with five of the 15 runners.

Chief among them is G1 Japanese Derby winner Shahryar, who was last seen finishing third in the Japan Cup in Toyko in November. The land of the rising sun also pitches in Authority, winner of the G3 Neom Turf Cup in Saudi Arabia last time out in which he conquered the re-opposing Kaspar and Pyledriver.

Authority (pictured) is trained by Tetsuya Kimura, who is hopeful of another good result, saying: “In Riyadh, the horse took control at the beginning and it was a great ride by Christophe (Lemaire).

“This is tough compared to Saudi Arabia but I am honoured to compete against so many trainers that I admire.”

Dual Hong Kong Vase winner Glory Vase thrives on international travel and represents a first Dubai runner for trainer Tomohito Ozeki, while the Japanese challenge is completed by Group 2 winner Stella Veloce, trained by Naosuke Sugai, and top-flight victor Uberleben, who will mark a maiden runner in Dubai for trainer Takahisa Tezuka.

The biggest opposition to the Japanese is likely to come from the Charlie Appleby-trained Yibir, a dominant winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf when last seen in November. A quirky son of Dubawi, Appleby admits he is not easy to handle.

“The biggest danger to Yibir is himself,” said the British champion trainer. “He could pull like a train and do everything the wrong away round, or he could do what he did in America, when he pulled but they went a good gallop and he still won. It’s credit to the horse and to William (Buick) that they won the race.”

British trainer William Haggas carries European hopes with his talented pair of Group 2 winners; Alenquer and Dubai Honour.

“It’s a strong race but he’s a nice horse,” the trainer said of Alenquer. “He surprised me in the Classic Trial at Sandown when defeating a very strong field, but he’s gone on to win easily at Royal Ascot and finish second in the International Stakes at York.”

The improving Dubai Honour has a career record of four from 10 and was most recently fourth in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup over 2000 metres at Sha Tin. This will be his first try over a mile and a half, something Haggas feels may suit.

“He’s gone from strength to strength, winning two Group 2 races in France and finishing second in the Champion Stakes,” he said. “It’s his first time over a mile and a half and I’m not sure about the ground for him. He needs cut in the ground, but he did run a very solid race in December at Sha Tin. He was fourth and finished good in a strong race so we’ll see.”

The other British contender in the field is the William Muir-trained Pyledriver, winner of the G1 Coronation Cup at Epsom in 2021, who aims to bounce back from a disappointing run behind Authority in Riyadh last time. 

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