Harp Star Looks to Play Classic Tune in Sheema

Harp Star faces a small but select field of rivals in the Dubai Sheema Classic
Photo: Dubai Racing Club // Neville Hopwood

The $6million Dubai Sheema Classic, presented by Longines, may only have attracted nine runners but still looks wide open with a case to be made for each of the nine.

Run over 2410m on the turf, the relatively small field may render the draw less vital so the Japanese connections of Harp Star (JPN), drawn widest of all, should not be too disheartened.

A dual Classic winner in her homeland last year, she will be best remembered by Europeans for her sixth in the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe when she was finishing rapidly having been set an impossible task.

She has the assistance of Ryan Moore on Saturday, the jockey having landed this race last year for Japan on Gentildonna and the Japanese are actually seeking a fourth win in this contest.

Moore partnered her in her work on Thursday morning and pleased trainer Hiroyoshi Matsuda.

“She has been going nicely all week and we are very happy with her and to secure the services of Ryan Moore.”

She faces a stellar field though which includes Hong Kong superstar, Designs On Rome (IRE), trained by John Moore and the mount of Joao Moreira.

The Hong Kong Derby and Hong Kong Cup were among his big race wins last year and he has won both his starts so far this season.

“The horse just seems to love it here,” said Moore. “Joao Moreira worked him on Thursday and was very pleased.”

France are launching a two pronged attack on the race with Dolniya (FR) and Flintshire (GB) who clashed in a 1900m Polytrack conditions race earlier this month.

The Alain de Royer-Dupre-trained Dolyniya just came out on top on that occasion.

“She is lovely filly who has strengthened up over the winter,” said her trainer. “All has gone to plan thus far.”

Andre Fabre trains Flintshire for Prince Khaled Abdullah, the combination who won the 2004 Sheema Classic with Polish Summer.

Runner-up in the 2012 Epsom Derby when trained in England by David Lanagan, Main Sequence (USA) has been transformed since switching to America in the care of Graham Motion.

Winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf, he has yet to taste defeat in five outings for his new trainer, four at the highest level. He also scored in his sole start this year in his pipe opener for Saturday’s test.

Just The Judge (IRE) was victorious in the 2013 Irish 1000 Guineas for Charlie Hills and won a Grade One in Canada last year. “She travelled over well and did not lose much weight,” said Hills.

“It is great she stays in training this year and we hope this new trip will really suit her.”