Fabre: Sheema Classic is just perfect for Cloth Of Stars

The splendour of Meydan: horses preparing for morning exercise this week. Photo: Dubai Racing Club/Neville Hopwood

Enable might have dominated the 2017 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly but runner-up Cloth Of Stars made such a great impression that day that he is now expected to emerge a major contender in the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan tomorrow.

French trainer André Fabre has an amazing record in the Arc, which he has won a record seven times, and so no-one was really surprised by the 5-year-old’s convincing performance behind the champion filly - least of all his trainer.

“Already as a 2-year-old he was very good and then he won the Prix Greffuhle [one of France’s most important Derby trials] by several lengths,” said Fabre. “He then ran in the Epsom Derby, but it was the year where we had a virus and so he got exhausted running in that.” 

The Derby might not have come at a good time for the son of Sea The Stars and Strawberry Fledge, but once he got over his virus, he proved unstoppable. As a 4-year-old, he got off to a brilliant start with three consecutive victories - in the G3 Prix Exbury in March, the G2 Prix d’Harcourt in April and culminating with a first G1 success in the Prix Ganay in May. 

A start in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot was then briefly under consideration, but in the end, his trainer, who had always thought of him as an Arc horse, preferred to give him some time off during the summer. And as always, he was proved right.

Cloth Of Stars came back to perform superbly in a race that would be name the Longines World’s Best Horserace of 2017. After leaving  Eclipse winner Ulysses, 2016 Ascot Gold Cup victor Order Of St George and French Derby winner Brametot in his wake, he was immediately pencilled in for a trip to Dubai. 

“The Longines Dubai Sheema Classic has become one of the important races for this type of horse,” Fabre said. “It is a Group 1 and is run over 2400m. It is a good competition and attracts good horses, it is perfect for this horse.”

In preparation for the Sheema Classic, Cloth Of Stars made his seasonal reappearance in the Prix Darshaan, a conditions race, on the Polytrack at Chantilly. He was beaten a length and three-quarters by stable companion Talismanic, who is running in the Dubai World Cup tomorrow. 

“This race at Chantilly is very convenient and for me as a trainer,” said Fabre. “It is easier than giving him a start in Dubai, as they remain under my supervision. On that sort of surface, Talismanic is obviously more speedy. He got the first run, Cloth Of Stars likes to come from behind. They both needed the race.”

Cloth Of Stars is the highest rated horse in tomorrow’s race and more than capable of giving Andre Fabre a second winner in it, 14 years after he scored with Polish Summer

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