Scintillating Equinox Smashes Sheema Classic Record

Equinox stars at Meydan | Erika Rasmussen


Japan's Horse of the Year Equinox (Jpn) (Kitasan Black {Jpn}) took a huge step towards global recognition with a dominant victory in the G1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic, routing his nine rivals under a motionless Christophe Lemaire.

Despite being eased down towards the line, the Tetsuya Kimura-trained 4-year-old lowered the course record previously held by Mishriff (Ire) (Make Believe {GB}) by exactly a second to stop the clock at 2:26.65.

G1 Irish Derby winner Westover (GB) (Frankel {GB}) gave chase in vain, running home best of the rest to reduce the winning margin to 3 1/2 lengths, with French-trained Zagrey (Fr) (Zarak {Fr}) taking third.

Equinox had the race at his mercy almost from the off, charging to the front from gate six to bowl along with ease. As jockeys on runners in behind started to ask serious questions of their mounts, Lemaire had merely to ease his rein out an inch for the leader to increase his stride–and his lead–with no further effort required from the rider who had partnered another Japanese Horse of the Year, Almond Eye (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}), to victory in the Dubai Turf of 2019.

“I knew he was the best horse and so I was happy to make the pace,” Lemaire said of Equinox. “I'm really happy for all of the connections. It's been a long time since I won the Sheema; the last time was with Heart's Cry, and he passed away two weeks ago. So I am very grateful for this horse; he has allowed me to pay tribute to Heart's Cry.”

He continued, “Race after race, he's going up the rankings of the horses I have ridden. It was a great, great performance against these kind of horses at the top level. I couldn't be happier.”

Tetsuya Kimura had already saddled his stable star to win the G1 Tenno Sho and G1 Arima Kinen in the last six months but even he appeared staggered by Equinox's bloodless victory. He said, “It was a tough field with some very strong horses but he's a champion and he was just the best. He got the job done and made it all look so simple.”

Ryan Moore had already secured two wins on the Dubai World Cup card but he had to settle for second on Juddmonte's Westover. The 4-year-old's trainer Ralph Beckett expressed relief after a testing time in the build-up to Saturday.

“It hasn't been easy this week–he did two laps of the training track on Tuesday when he was only meant to do one,” said Beckett. “Although he's keen you have to leave him alone. He's been beaten by a very good horse, to finish second to him is fantastic. I wouldn't rule out dropping back to 10 furlongs for an Eclipse or a Tatts Gold Cup.”

Long-shot Zagrey, who was runner-up in the G3 Dubai Millennium S. on his last start, has his trainer Yann Barberot dreaming of major targets closer to home after his third-place finish. He said, “It's fantastic. He's a proper Group 1 horse and I'm delighted. He wasn't precocious, as is the case with quite a lot of Zarak's progeny. Then he got injured at three after he was second in the Prix Eugene Adam but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. He loves soft ground so he might be a horse for something like the Champion S. at Ascot. He's been beaten by a phenomenon.”


Pedigree Notes

A son of the young Shadai stallion Kitasan Black, whose sire Black Tide (Jpn) is a full-brother to Deep Impact (Jpn), Equinox is the third foal of his Group 3-winning dam Chateau Blanche (Jpn) (King Halo {Jpn}). His year-older half-brother Weiss Meteor (Jpn) (King Kamehameha {Jpn}) won the G3 Nikkei Sho, and the mare has a 3-year-old colt whose sire Just A Way (Jpn) won the Dubai Turf of 2014. Chateau Blanche's current 2-year-old filly is a daughter of Kizuna (Jpn), and she is due to foal a full-sibling to Equinox this season.


Saturday, Meydan, Dubai
LONGINES DUBAI SHEEMA CLASSIC-G1, $6,000,000, Meydan, 3-25, NH 4yo/up & SH 3yo/up, 2410mT, 2:25.65 (NCR), gd.
1–EQUINOX (JPN), 125, c, 4, by Kitasan Black (Jpn)
                1st Dam: Chateau Blanche (Jpn) (GSW-Jpn,
                                   $1,096,970), by King Halo (Jpn)
                2nd Dam: Blancherie (Jpn), by Tony Bin (Ire)
                3rd Dam: Maison Blanche (Jpn), by Alleged
O-Silk Racing Co Ltd; B-Northern Farm (Jpn); T-Tetsuya
Kimura; J-Christophe-Patrice Lemaire. $3,480,000. Lifetime
Record: Horse of the Year & Ch. 3yo Colt-Jpn, MG1SW-
Jpn, 7-5-2-0, $9,516,220. *Half to Weiss Meteor (Jpn) (King
Kamehameha {Jpn}), GSW-Jpn, $820,531. Werk Nick Rating:
   A+++. *Triple Plus*.  Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross
   pedigree. Click for the free catalogue-style
2–Westover (GB), 125, c, 4, Frankel (GB)–Mirabilis, by Lear Fan.
O-Juddmonte; B-Juddmonte Farms Ltd (GB); T-Ralph Beckett.
3–Zagrey (Fr), 125, c, 4, Zarak (Fr)–Grey Anatomy (GB), by
Slickly (Fr). 1ST GROUP 1 BLACK TYPE. (€32,000 RNA Ylg '20
ARQSEP). O-Ecurie Altima & Gerard Augustin-Normand; B-
Ecurie Euroling (Fr); T-Yann Barberot. $600,000.
Margins: 3HF, 2 1/4, 1 1/4.
Also Ran: Mostahdaf (Ire), Shahryar (Jpn), Win Marilyn (Jpn), Rebel's Romance (Ire), Russian Emperor (Ire), Botanik (Ire), Senor Toba (Aus). VIDEO.


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