Rain Could Impact Sheema Classic Outcome
Date Posted: 3/26/2009 8:19:05 AM
Last Updated: 3/28/2009 9:57:11 AM

Purple Moon training at Nad al Sheba on March 24
Photo: courtesy of Dubai Racing Club

Edited Dubai Racing Club Report

Jamie Spencer rates his Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) mount Purple Moon as having “a good each-way chance” but stressed that any more rain would dampen his enthusiasm. Dubai was saturated Wednesday (March 25) night and Thursday morning.

Spencer said: “Purple Moon was a bit tubby when he ran in his prep-race here on ‘Super Thursday’, but Luca Cumani tells me that he has since got stuck into him and given him plenty of work, so you can expect to see the slim-line version on Saturday.

“He was beaten little more than two lengths into fourth place on his last start here and it was an encouraging trial, especially as we got caught up in some bunching in the straight, which cost us a place or two.”

However, Spencer confirmed that he “could have done without last night’s storm” as Purple Moon is at his best when the turf course rides fast.

He added: “Hopefully, the ground won’t deteriorate, and, though it is a tough race, he always runs well after a warm-up.
“He was runner-up in the Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) after running at Caulfield 17 days earlier and his Hong Kong Vase second was probably his best ever performance, coming just two weeks after he ran in the Japan Cup.”

But win or lose, Spencer sees Purple Moon as a legitimate contender for the Melbourne Cup at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November.

He said: “The Australian handicapper only put him up one kilo, and the Cup is a race that plays to his strengths. He stays well and they usually go a fast race, so who knows we might be able to go one better this time.”

After drawing the 12 post on Wednesday, J. Paul Reddam’s Red Rocks galloped about a mile through the rain over Nad al Sheba’s dirt track on Thursday morning, continuing to please his connections.

“He is very happy,” said Trish McLaughlin, who has been overseeing Red Rocks prior to trainer Mark Hennig’s arrival in Dubai on Friday. “He’s a cool customer. He’s eating very well and he’s just doing great.”

A veteran campaigner who has raced in six countries, including a previous visit to Dubai when unplaced in the 2007 Dubai Sheema Classic, Red Rocks’ experiences help him to handle travel and different environments with ease. He also is very adjustable in his races, said jockey Javier Castellano, who had no concerns about the 12 post.

“He’s an easy horse to ride,” Castellano said. “He likes to be close to the pace, so I’d want to be three to four lengths off the early lead and then make a late run.”

Ryan Moore was aboard his Dubai Sheema Classic mount Spanish Moon for a pleasing workout on the turf when the morning rain at Nad al Sheba was at its heaviest.

“He’s in good form,” he said afterwards as the sun came out at Thursday morning’s Breakfast with the Stars, “but this is a step up on anything he’s been asked to tackle so far in his career. It’s a tough race with a lot of horses like Doctor Dino and Quijano in it, who have been around for ages, while Purple Moon and King of Rome, who I thought was unlucky in the City of Gold last time will both come on for their runs.”

Trainer Neil Drysdale is delighting in the wet weather that fell Wednesday evening into Thursday morning.

“The more rain, the better,” the trainer of Marsh Side said.

Marsh Side prefers a bit of give in the ground. In fact, Drysdale partly blamed the extra firm turf condition in the San Marcos for Marsh Side’s seventh-place finish at Santa Anita Park on January 19.

Patrick Lawley-Wakelin, the racing manager for Marsh Side’s owner and breeder, Robert S. Evans, said a course with moisture could prove to be beneficial on two counts.

“Our horse will like it, but also some other others won’t care for it,” Lawley-Wakelin said.

Marsh Side cantered on the grass Thursday morning, and Drysdale said his exercise rider, Derek Oldham, rated the course as “good.”

Deem, who won the Cape Verdi on her local/turf debut, takes her chance in the 2400m race and is expected to bounce back to form after a below par run in the Balanchine.

Her trainer, Jerry Barton explains: “The second run came too quick I think and she is far better than that. Hopefully she can run a big race.”
 



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