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St Nicholas Abbey strikes gold in Dubai

30 Mar 2013

St Nicholas Abbey, dual winner of the Investec Coronation Cup who will make history if he can win it three times in a row at Epsom in June, took the Dubai Sheema Classic in fine style on Dubai World Cup Night this evening.

St Nicholas Abbey is far too good for Gentildonna in the Dubai Sheema Classic. Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.

There was no Cirrus des Aigles to deny St Nicholas Abbey in the Dubai Sheema Classic this year with Aidan O’Brien, who had earlier won the UAE Derby with Lines Of Battle, saddling the six-year-old to win his biggest prize to date.

With Aidan’s son, Joseph, riding the perfect race, settling St Nicholas Abbey in second place behind the pace-setting Shareta and setting sail for home as they turned into the straight, there was never an anxious moment.

Japan Cup winner, Gentildonna, did her best to challenge the winner in the straight, but she never looked like getting past and at the line St Nicholas Abbey was the comfortable two-and-a-quarter length winner with Qatari challenger, Very Nice Name, in third.

It was St Nicholas Abbey’s fifith Group 1 victory and brought his connections a haul of over £1.8m pounds in Dubai’s richest turf race.

Very likely to be on St Nicholas Abbey’s radar now will be a third consecutive Investec Coronation Cup victory, the first race in the QIPCO British Champions Series Middle Distance category, a feat never achieved before.

Shareta, winner of the Darley Yorshire Oaks last year, faded out of it, but Dunaden, running over a trip short of his best and at the rear of the field at the halfway stage, ran on really well to finish fourth and promises to be a force to be reckoned with over a more demanding track.

The winning jockey said: "I felt I was a little bit unlucky last year and just got going a bit late, I was doing all my best work coming to the line.

"There didn’t seem much pace on paper and Mr (Derrick) Smith in particular just said that after last year to ride him a bit more forward and see what happens.

"I knew my lad is tough and he tries hard.

"He is very special, he gives his best every day and is a great ride. He relaxes and he quickens, he tries hard and you can’t ask for more."

Aidan O’Brien said: "Everyone works so hard at home and obviously Joseph is a big help so it is brilliant.

"I always felt this horse wanted to be ridden back a little bit, but Joseph and Derrick were always very much of the other mind, so obviously they got their way today and what they said was right.

"He’s more mature now and he proved today you can ride him any way you want.

"The lads have worked him out now better than I have. There’s not many miles on the clock so he’s hopefully going to be a very exciting horse."

In the preceding race, Godolphin’s Sajjhaa won the Dubai Duty Free in the hands of Silverstre De Sousa, from Mike De Kock’s South African challenger, The Apache, with last year’s Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes winner, Giofra, finishing strongly in third.  

Last year’s QIPCO 2000 Guineas runner-up, French Fifteen, was a disappointing ninth in that contest.