While the Dubai World Cup looks like a match between the world’s two highest rated horses of 2006, Invasor and Discreet Cat, in all probability, the most competitive race will turn out to be the $5 million Sheema Classic.
The field is punctuated by any number of dollar millionaires, while Group One winners are two a penny, and they represent most corners of the civilized world. South Africa is represented by runners from the De Kock, Brown and Ferraris stables, but of particular interest to Summerhill is the presence of English Derby (Gr 1) hero Sir Percy, who in the year before his great Classic triumph was Europe’s highest rated two year old colt. Sir Percy’s dam, Percy’s Lass, comes from one of the very best White Lodge Stud families, that of English Derby winner Teenoso, Irish Oaks winner Give Thanks and Italian Derby winner, Old Country. The Summerhill connection comes through one of the farm’s foundation mares Little Ditton, a sister to Percy’s Lass, these days in the form of several scions on the farm including the dam of the highly regarded sophomore, Catmandu, who was a close up third two starts back behind last season’s Champion Two Year Old, Kildonan, in the Graham Becks Stakes (Gr3). If the wheels come off for the South Africans, be sure our money will be with Sir Percy.
We’ll be getting our first sighting of Mullins Bay this afternoon. He came through his last work well on Tuesday, and trainer Mike de Kock says “if he hadn’t had an interrupted preparation, he’d tell us to simply wait in the No. One box!” Now that’s an indication of how highly Mullins Bay is regarded, though he still has an awesomely wide 14 draw to contend with as well. There’s a lot of talk out here about the Irish runner Vortex, and we’re told to respect the American. It’s difficult in this day and Bush age. More on Mullins later.