Sterling City won the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored by Gulf News (UAE-I) in just his third start of 2014 on March 29 at Meydan, powering home in late stretch to claim the 1,200 meter (about six-furlong) event for Hong Kong (VIDEO).
The 6-year-old son of Australian stallion Nadeem is trained by Hong Kong-based conditioner James Moore for owners Ling Chiu Shing and Gary Ling Kay Wai, who employed the services of jockey Joao Moreira. The Brazilian reinsman came directly off a victory in the Al Quoz Sprint (gr. IT) aboard another Hong Kong raider, Amber Sky.
"I thought my horse, at the corner, really wasn't going to be a factor," Moore told HRTV. "But the magician on board worked wonders. We're lucky to have him riding in Hong Kong."
Sterling City was rated off the pace set by U.S. hope Zee Bros, who went straight to the front and held the advantage heading for home. Another Hong Kong invader, Mahab Al Shimaal (UAE-III) winner Rich Tapestry, loomed up to assume control mid-stretch as Zee Bros yielded, but Moreira had swung the 5-2 favorite out for his run. He had plenty of horse with which to wear down his rival inside the final furlong.
"What a lovely horse," Moreira said. "He ran to his best...once I got him in the clear without the kickback in his face, he finished very strong."
Sterling City spurted ahead with 50 meters left to run and cleared Rich Tapestry by a quarter length in a final time of 1:10.88. United Color finished third, with 2013 Golden Shaheen winner Reynaldothewizard checking in fourth. Completing the order of finish in the field of 13 were Nawwaar, Zee Bros, Russian Soul, Balmont Mast, Complicate, 2012 Golden Shaheen winner Krypton Factor, Jamesie, My Catch, and Bello.
In his two previous starts of the season, Sterling City won the Jan. 1 Chinese Club Challenge Cup (HK-III), a 1,400-meter handicap at Sha Tin, and was a close third behind multiple group I winner Lucky Nine in the Feb. 16 Chairman's Sprint Prize (HK-I) at the Golden Shaheen distance last time out. Bred in Australia by D P R Esplin, out of the Brief Truce dam So Gorgeous, he now has an 8-6-3 record from 20 starts for earnings close to $2 million.
"Royal Ascot could be a possibility for this horse and we'll think about the KrisFlyer International Sprint in Singapore before that," continued Moore. "But this is fantastic—earlier in his career we didn't really know that he had this ability, and we've brought him right through the grades to win this group I in Dubai."