IN 2012, Sunday Racing’s Gentildonna flashed through a brilliant 3yo campaign, dismantling her female foes in the Triple Tiara, Fillies’ Triple Crown of Japan and then finishing off her season with a scintillating performance in the Japan Cup, defeating the awesome Orfevre. She carried that momentum into the following season and looked the one to beat at Meydan in the Dubai Sheema Classic. In 2018, Almond Eye steamrollered over her generational foes of the same sex and then laughed at her elders in equally, perhaps even more so, impressive fashion. She has now been pointed to the same Dubai World Cup night fixture, where she will try to go one better than her predecessor.
While Gentildonna did return to impressively win the 2014 Dubai Sheema Classic, she was unsuccessful in 2013 at age four when she ran into a world superstar, St Nicholas Abbey, over whom she was a slight favourite. Almond Eye, owned by Silk Racing, has targeted the 2400m affair and appears ripe to make history, already being established as an overwhelming early favourite. Last out, in her Japan Cup, she smashed the 2400m course record. “I was a little worried with such a fast pace, but it was an amazing performance” said Silk Racing Club president Masashi Yonemoto through an official translation. “After talking with Mr Kunieda, the trainer, from here we take her abroad which will be our first time going abroad like this, but it has been a dream to have a horse like this.
She won her first race here at Tokyo a year ago and now, to have come this far, is unbelievable. “As she went along, it became clear what the future could hold and if she won the Japan Cup, we would decide to take her abroad,” Yonemoto continued. “There are so many strong fillies in the world right now. Spring will likely be Dubai as the main target. “After that, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Then there are so many other races we want to consider for her as we go along.” Yonemoto also did not rule out the possibility of running in the 1800m Dubai Turf in lieu of the Dubai Sheema Classic, but appears to be leaning toward the latter. A possible prep for her could come in the 2000m Group 2 Kyoto Kinen in the middle of February.