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Australian mare wins Gr1 Dubai Sheema Classic

Australian mare wins Gr1 Dubai Sheema Classic
31 March 2008

 
Australian bred Sun Classique trounced a high class field to land the US$ 5 million Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic at Nad Al Sheba on World Cup night. Trained and ridden by the formidable South African combination of Mike de Kock and Kevin Shea, Sun Classique has posted a hat-trick of stakes wins at the track this season. Her career to date boasts 9 wins, 4 of them Gr 1's, and she looks destined for Royal Ascot 2008. 
 
Sun Classique, a 4 year old chestnut mare by Fuji Kiseki (Jpn) from Elfenjer (AUS) by leading broodmare sire Last Tycoon (IRE), capitalised on a favourable barrier and confident ride, to surge into the lead 400 metres from the line. She comfortably held her 15 rivals at bay, extending in the last 100 metres to race away, with favourite Viva Petaca (GB) the only one to get within 2.75 lengths of her. The winning time of 2 minutes, 27.45 seconds was 5 hundredths of a second outside the track-record.
 
Co-owner and breeder Lionel Cohen of Odessa Stud and Equimark Sales fame in South Africa, held his talented mare in high esteem even before she had ever raced. More recently, he and his partner Warne Rippon resisted the temptation to accept a compelling offer from Australian interests.
 
Understandably, Lionel Cohen having bred the mare, spoke with emotion in the post race interview:
“She's just been special for a long time," said Lionel. "I would like to dedicate it to my family and my late father. She's just awesome. When she hit the front, I thought it would take a very special horse to beat her. She's one of the best fillies on the planet.”
 
Sun Classique is not the first taste of success that Lionel has experienced in the oil rich region of Dubai. In 2004 his mare Crimson Palace (SAF) (Elliodor (FR) x Perfect Guest (SAF)) won at Nad Al Sheba and was subsequently sold to Godolphin.
 
Elfenjer was purchased by Lionel Cohen for a mere $32,500 at the 2003 William Inglis Broodmare sale, carrying Sun Classique in utero. Sun Classique was foaled and raised at Widden Stud until mother and daughter were eventually despatched to Lionel's Odessa Stud at Ceres, in the Western Cape of South Africa. Today she is one of the most valuable mares in the world.

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