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Last Updated: 29/03/13 1:51pm
St Nicholas Abbey: Set for Sheema run
Japanese sensation Gentildonna looks like being one of the hottest favourites on Saturday's World Cup night at Meydan as she tackles her first international competition in the Dubai Sheema Classic.
The champion three-year-old filly of her homeland managed an unprecedented feat for a horse in her category by landing the Japan Cup last November when she narrowly beat Orfevre, for many the de facto winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Gentildonna has impressed gallops watchers this week and trainer Sei Ishizaka said: "She did her final serious piece of work at home before getting on the plane and she worked very well.
"She has settled in nicely, seems in good form and should run a big race. It would be great to win for Japan."
The major obstacle in Gentildonna's path looks to be the Aidan O'Brien-trained St Nicholas Abbey.
A notable and close second to Cirrus Des Aigles a year ago, the one-time Derby hope remains in rude health at the age of six and despite being no match for Frankel at York, stayed on from a poor position to take third in the Breeders' Cup Turf.
O'Brien said: "He ran very well when second in the same race last year and seems in good form. We're happy with him and hoping for another good run from him."
Alain de Royer-Dupre, who saddles four horses across the evening including Giofra in the Duty Free, seems very sweet on the prospects of Shareta.
Winner of the Yorkshire Oaks and Prix Vermeille, the mare was not too far behind St Nicholas Abbey in Santa Anita.
"We had a plan for six or seven weeks before the race to go more and more (on the gallops) and for me, she looks very well," said the Frenchman.
"I think she's my best chance of my runners."
Godolphin are doubly represented with Silvestre De Sousa aboard Sharestan, a lightly-raced recruit from John Oxx who was performed reasonably at the Carnival.
Prince Bishop (Mickael Barzalona) was seventh in last year's World Cup and recently returned from a long absence.
Trainer Saeed Bin Suroor said: "Sharestan won well first time and was a bit unlucky on his second run. He is trying this trip for the first time but I think he will stay and hope he runs a good race.
"Prince Bishop disappointed in last year's Dubai World Cup but has run well on turf in the past and I think a mile and a half is the best trip for him.
"He is doing well and we are happy with him, though he might prefer a bit of cut in the ground."
Await The Dawn, who used to be trained by O'Brien, is now handled by Dubai specialist, the South African Mike De Kock.
He won one of his three starts at Meydan, in a handicap, and was second in the Dubai City Of Gold on Super Saturday.
"He is a horse who has pleased us pretty much all along as he has overcome his earlier problems and has been in good shape," the trainer said.
"He needed his first run badly and showed a great turn of foot to win his second outing before being undone by the total lack of pace on Super Saturday.
"He is a smart horse and, with a bit of pace in the race and some luck, he should be a player."
Former Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden represents Mikael Delzangles while Irish Leger star Royal Diamond is the mount of Johnny Murtagh for owner Andrew Tinkler.