Super-filly Gentildonna set to end euro Sheema Classic dominance
The successes of Dar Re Mi, Rewilding and Cirrus Des Aigles in the last three years Sheema Classic mean that European-trained runners have held a monopoly over the 1m4f Group 1 contest since it the World Cup meeting moved from Nad Al Sheba to Meydan and the continent is well represented again this year in the Sheema Classic betting courtesy of Group 1 winning stayers such as St Nicholas Abbey, Shareta, Giroalma and Dunaden. Meanwhile Saeed Bin Suroor’s Prince Bishop beat last year’s winner Cirrus Des Aigles in a Longchamp Group 2 over the Sheema Classic trip back in 2010.
An glittering array of star-stayers they may be, but all are subordinate to Japanese-trained Gentildonna, 6/4 favourite with Coral in the Sheema Classic betting.
Sei Ishizaka’s four-year-old has less race-experience than any runner in the field, but she’s already accrued four wins at Group One Level, collecting the triple crown for females in her native Japan before nailing Orfevre late on add top-table win against the boys to her stellar CV in the Japan Cup.
She showed a relish for the set-to to prevail that day with the front pair battling hammer-and-tongs throughout the last two furlongs but looked nowhere near being outstayed over the 1m4f despite having previously won at 1m. Doubters as to the strength of that race need only look down the field to 11th in that race where Jakkalberry, last seen beating Sheema Classic 12/1 fifth-favourite Await The Dawn over the Sheema course and distance earlier this month, finished nine and a quarter lengths in arrears.
Of her European foes St Nicholas Abbey is closest in the betting and Aidan O’Brien’s globe-trotter set the bar for an ultra-consistent but largely frustrated season at the highest level when finishing second in this race last year, going on to run into the first three in five Group 1 races, yet winning just once.
Given his the relative paucity of recent winning form in the book his 7/2 price may be too skinny for some and the 8/1 available about Dunaden with Coral could rate more attractive to the each way thieves. Whether or not he still has the class to mix it at this level is beyond doubt after Mikel Delzangles’ seven-year-old struck off top weight to win the Group 1 Caulfield Cup handicap on his penultimate start over 1m4f.