Meydan Race Preview - 2019 Sheema Classic

The Racing and Sports Priceline looks at the Sheema Classic from the Meydan.


Old Persian leads the local defence in the Sheema Classic
Old Persian leads the local defence in the Sheema Classic Picture: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)


A farcical tempo did Rey De Oro (among others) no favours in last year’s Sheema Classic but he returns with a terrific chance this year according to the Racing and Sports Priceline.

Hawkbill won the Sheema Classic last year after getting an easy time in front and it will again be Charlie Appleby and William Buick that, via Old Persian, puts up the biggest hurdle in front of a typically strong Japanese challenge.

Racing and Sports Assessed Prices: Rey De Oro $3.2; Old Persian $4.00; Suave Richard $5.00; Magic Wand $13.00

Rey De Oro has run just three times since last year’s Sheema, winning twice and coming up just shy in the Arima Kinen last time out. 

The pick of his performances was a very fast performance in the Tenno Sho which rates highly and shows Rey De Oro to be the pick of the horses on exposed talent in this year’s Sheema field.

Old Persian has a strong time performance of his own to fall back on – his win over Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter at York last year was high class against the clock and makes him a worthy foe for the 2017 Japanese Derby winner.

The 2017 Japan Cup went the way of Cheval Grand. He has been unable to win since, but his 2018 campaign showed that he has lost none of his spark and he was hot on the heels of Rey De Oro last time.

His form also ties right in with Suave Richard who must have a good chance – for all that he sits below Rey De Oro in the Far Eastern pecking order.

Magic Wand leads a two-pronged attack for Aidan O’Brien but she looks very well found in the early betting given it will take a career best to live with either Rey De Oro or Old Persian should they run to their respective peaks on Saturday. She could certainly find one of them off their game, but it’s fairly likely that at least one of them will perform up to or close to expectations in the Sheema. 

The Japanese look even better equipped in the Dubai Turf with their superstar filly Almond Eye easing back to 1800m for her first run in 2019.


Almond Eye is a star turn at the Meydan
Almond Eye is a star turn at the Meydan Picture: Dubai Racing Club


She produced several world class performances in 2018 – none better than her Japan Cup win where the overall time was outstanding.

If she turns up anywhere near that level then the rest are playing for places, but it can’t be a foregone conclusion back at 1800m, overseas, and off a break. 

There are queries, but odds against still looks fair game, given the local defence looks a peg or two back from last year when Benbatl won the race for the home team.

Dream Castle plays the role of Benbatl this year. His C.V is every bit as impressive – perhaps more so given that he didn’t stumble in the Jebel Hatta like Benbatl had – but his peaks haven’t quite reached the heights of Benbatl’s.

Wootton is a good horse that can improve again from behind Dream Castle last time, and Without Parole is an interesting runner from the UK with a competitive array of ratings, but the most interesting betting value in the race centres around last year’s placegetters Vivlos and Deirdre.

Vivlos is a proven traveller and did more than enough behind Beauty Generation in Hong Kong last time, but Deirdre impressed winning twice on the back of last year’s Dubai placing and she’s had a prep race to ready her for this Meydan assignment. Prices around 16/1 look worth taking.

Racing and Sports