And Now For The Arc!

A great night for Japan

Shahryar provided Japan with a remarkable fifth winner on the night at Meydan in the $6 million Gr1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic, showing plenty of heart to hold off the British challenge of Yibir, who took second, and eventual fourth-placed Pyledriver in the closing stages.

It was a race which changed complexion around the bend for home, with the front-running Japanese challenger and third-place finisher Authority slowly finding himself joined by several closers.

One of those was compatriot Shahryar, who himself was prominent but boxed on at the far rail to repel the challenges of Pyledriver and the fast closing Yibir – who closed all the way to the line down the stand-side rail.

There were several hard luck stories, including Hukum, who was short of room at a key stage, but there was no denying Shahryar.

He will now be aimed at this year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe after providing Japan with a fourth victory in this race and the first since the Sei Ishizaka-trained and Ryan Moore-ridden Gentildonna  in 2014.

Winning trainer Hideaki Fujiwara, who had just been edged out in the Dubai Turf with third-placed Vin De Garde, said: “This horse was a winner of the Tokyo Yushun, the Japanese Derby, and that is as good a race as we have in Japan. I was confident that he wasn’t going to lose.

“It’s very normal for him to get on his toes before he races so I wasn’t too concerned and I had full faith in Cristian to handle the horse and take care of him during the race.”

He added: “It would be a dream for me to take this horse to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. It is the race we want to win and it would mean so much to be able to take him there. That is our ambition and our aim.

“It has been a great night for Japan and a great night for our stable with a first and a third. I am so proud of our horses.”

Jockey Cristian Demuro said of his winning mount: “Before the race I knew I wanted to be behind Authority as I knew he would lead. We were able to get a nice position just behind him on the rail and when I pulled my horse out in the straight I knew he was going to win.

“For a moment he was a little lost in front, but we felt Yibir coming and I always believed we were going to get there.

“It is amazing to win a race like this. Amazing also to win on a Japanese horse. They are showing they are the best in the world.”

William Muir, trainer of the fourth-placed Pyledriver, said: “He’s run a great race, travelled powerfully but probably didn’t get all the luck in running, but I can’t complain. I’m delighted for the horse and the owners and I’m looking forward to the season ahead back home.”

Pyledriver’s rider Frankie Dettori added: “It was a super run and he didn’t get the splits at the crucial moments, but I’m very happy with him.”

What the rest said:

6th – Alenquer, jockey Tom Marquand said: “He travelled around great and had every chance at the top of the straight, but he didn’t quite hit the line as I thought he would.”

8th – Glory Vase, jockey Christophe Soumillon said: “The pace was too slow for him.”

10th – Dubai Honour, jockey James Doyle said: “It was a slow pace and on sort of drying ground all evening. I rode him conservatively but it didn’t work.”

11th – Dubai Future, jockey Pat Cosgrave said: “He ran a nice race and it was always going to be tough for him to win jumping from gate 14. He ran a nice race but was just not good enough.”

12th – Without A Fight, jockey Andrea Atzeni said: “He ran okay. He was a bit sluggish early on, I wanted to get a better position but he didn’t have the pace.”

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