Japan’s Almond Eye Returns To Defend Her Title In Dubai Turf

by | 02.25.2020 | 5:26pm
Almond Eye wins the 2019 Dubai Turf

The astounding talent of six-time Group 1 winner Almond Eye is on its way back to the UAE, as the 5-year-old mare looks to kick off her season with a defense of the Group 1 $6 million Dubai Turf at Meydan Racecourse on March 28. The Silk Racing Co.-owned daughter of Lord Kanaloa has pleased trainer Sakae Kunieda at home as she prepares for the 1800m affair and looks to build upon a 2019 success in which she defeated eight G1 winners, including Vivlos, Deirdre and Lord Glitters.

A winner of the 2018 Japanese Filly Triple Crown and Japan Cup (G1) during the same season, she has shown marked versatility from 1600m to 2400m, but exits the first poor effort of her career when ninth in the 2500m Arima Kinen (G1) on Dec. 22—a contingency race after a training interruption precluded her from the 2000m Hong Kong Cup (G1) two weeks prior.

Kunieda also plans to bring the other major star of his stable, 2019 Japan Cup (G1) runner-up Curren Bouquetd'or, who will contest the Group 1 $6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic—a race many thought Almond Eye may attempt this year, as it would make her the first winner of each of Dubai's top turf races. A daughter of Deep Impact and Chilean champion Solaria, Curren Bouquetd'or has yet to score at the top level, but has three times been a bridesmaid in G1 company, including in the Yushun Himba/Japanese Oaks (G1). She exits a second over soft going in the Kyoto Kinen (G2) on Feb. 16.

“Both fillies are planning on coming,” Kunieda said. “Almond Eye was tired after her Arima run, but she has rebounded well and will be coming back to Miho (Training Centre) this week. We never really thought of the Sheema Classic (with her), as the Turf suits her so well. We will prep her the same as we did last year.

“Curren Bouquetd'or came out of her race last week well,” he continued. “The winner just loved the ground, though our filly can run on any ground. She is best on counter-clockwise courses like Tokyo and Dubai, so I'm not worried about her ability to run well in Dubai. She came out of her race in good order and she will train together with Almond Eye once she gets to the training center.”

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