Dubai Sheema Classic preview: Jack Hobbs out to deny Postponed a shot at history
Postponed will face stiff competition from Godolphin’s Jack Hobbs on Saturday as he attempts to become the first horse to successfully retain the Group 1 US$6 million (Dh22m) Dubai Sheema Classic.
The winner from 12 months ago heads into the race with the benefit of a run when he went down narrowly to another Godolphin runner, Prize Money, over Saturday’s 2,410-metre trip on the turf on Super Saturday earlier in March.
Postponed’s trainer Roger Varian has insisted his horse is a “different animal” to one that got beat three weeks ago.
“I am very happy with him and he just did an easy lap and a half,” said Varian after watching the six-year-old son of Dubawi complete his final piece of work with his usual work horse.
“He breezed yesterday to finish his preparation so just had a leg stretch this morning and he is doing really well.
“He is a different animal to the one we had in front of us three weeks ago. He looks the part and has cantered around there in a good place. We will find out on Saturday if he is as good as last year.”
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Jack Hobbs’ campaign was interrupted by injury but he showed he had lost nothing when running a credible third behind Almanzor and Found in the Champions Stakes in his first start in more than five months.
The Godolphin runner too had a light canter on Friday at Meydan’s grass track and his trainer John Gosden was “happy” with both his travel and how he has adapted to the new surroundings in Dubai.
“This is his game; he won an Irish Derby on a galloping track over 2,400m. He likes a bit of cut, too, but the rain goes through this track fast as it is sand based,” Gosden said.
“He needs to improve — it is a small, but elite field. I hope he can improve. He got injured in his first race last May and never got back until the Champion Stakes, but ran a blinder to run third to the best three-year-old in Europe in Almanzor, and the Arc winner Found.
“This is his trip. He seems in good order right now but we are perfectly aware we are third or fourth favourite. He is well and is in good form.”
Jack Hobbs was runner-up in the 2015 Epsom Derby before claiming the Irish equivalent. He has never been out of the top three in nine starts, barring the injury when he was pulled up in the Jockey Club Stakes.
Prize Money is also among the seven runners. The Saeed bin Suroor-trained runner has had three local starts, finishing behind Gold Trail in the first before winning the next two.
Aidan O’Brian is double handed with Highland Reel and Seventh Heaven while Sounds Of Earth carries Japan’s hopes.
Ryan Moore rides the globe-trotting Highland Reel, fourth in the race 12 months ago. He won the Breeders’ Cup Turf before beaten by Japanese runner Santono Crown in the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase in December.
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Updated: March 24, 2017 04:00 AM