Dubai Golden Shaheen contender Matera Sky (left) Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/ Gulf News
Race 6
Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored By Gulf News (Group 1)
14 runners

Dubai: Japan has dominated the headlines going into this year’s renewal of the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News with four of 13 entrants in the race, led by Akira Murayama’s favourite Copano Kicking.

The six-year-old Spring At Last gelding will be looking to make the most from his desert swing after winning the Riyadh Dirt Sprint with a late burst under William Buick. Justin, Red Le Zele and Matera Sky trained by Yoshito Yahagi, Takayuki Yasuda and Hideyuki Mori respectively also represent Japan. And that is quite a quartet.

Buick delivered a textbook ride aboard Copano Kicking in Riyadh kicking out of traffic and pushing clear with a late burst to deny Matera Sky in the final strides. Murayama’s ward enters the race as red hot to build on his Riyadh success and win a first top level success for a yard for whom he has already delivered three Group Three wins in Japan.

Mori’s Matera Sky is a legend among journeymen and was fifth and later second on the two occasions he’s been part of a race that conceptually equals a 100m final at the Olympic Games. In Riyadh, Matera Sky was edged just before multiple Group 3 winner Copano Kicking who will be looking for his biggest career success Saturday.

The UAE is well represented with four trainers saddling five horses. Of the quintet, Satish Seemar’s Switzerland, fourth in Riyadh and winner of this year’s Group 3 Dubawi Stakes, and Doug Watson’s Group 2 Mahab Al Shimaal winner Canvassed stand out. Watson also saddles Premier Star and Al Tariq, who followed up on his victory in the gruelling Jebel Ali Sprint, a Listed affair over 1,000m at the hill, by winning the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint.

Watson said: “He has earned his place in this company and has been in great form all year. Given a good draw we would hope he goes there with a genuine chance.

“Canvassed gave a great performance on Super Saturday when he had a terrible draw. He worked very well on Sunday. Premier Star is a lovely new horse and pleased us on Super Saturday. He arrived with good form in the book and we were keen to let him take his chance in this as he is a horse we like.”

Ismail Mohammed’s Good Effort, who has had narrow misses behind Switzerland and Canvassed in said affairs, is also part of the line up and will be ridden by Frankie Dettori.

A six-year-old Shamardal entire, Good Effort arrived for the Dubai World Cup Carnival on a five win run, which was nipped by Switzerland. But he improved to just be headed on the line thereafter by Canvassed on Super Saturday and if that improvement has continued, he should not have come forward for his next assignment.

That leaves the four pronged American contingent to talk about. It comprises Doug O’Neil’s Wildman Jack, who won last year’s Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint and arrives in Dubai on the back of a commanding four and a quarter length success in the Grade 3 Palos Verdes Stakes at Santa Anita.

Steve Asmussen sends out a pair with Grade 2 Amsterdam and Grade 3 Chick Lang Stakes winner Yaupon preferred to Jalen Journey, Carlos David’s Zenden completes the field.

GN Selections

1. Matera Sky
2. Copano Kicking
3. Canvassed