Postponed: landed the Sheema Classic 12 months agoPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Postponed has improved since defeat, says Varian
Preview: Meydan, Saturday
Longines Dubai SHeema Classic (Group 1) 1m4f, 3yo+, ATR/RUK
WILL the gamble pay off for Postponed? After a stellar five-year-old season in Europe following last year's stunning victory in this race, the percentage call might have been to plan for a lucrative career at stud, but owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid is nothing if not decisive and has stuck to his guns to ensure the highest-rated horse in Britain is back for the Sheema Classic aged six.
Although favourite to retain his crown, he perhaps does not bring the same air of invincibility to this year's race compared with 12 months ago, having been beaten on his last two starts.
The 2015 King George winner had won his prep race in the Dubai City Of Gold last year but was beaten in the same race this time around, albeit suffering more traffic problems than the Sheikh Zayed Road at home time on a Friday.
That was, however, his first race since he was the beaten favourite in the Arc in October and trainer Roger Varian has been delighted with Postponed since arriving in Dubai midweek.
"I'd say it's a considerable improvement to the horse I bought out here for Super Saturday," said Varian. "With him being a six-year-old, he just took longer to get ready for Super Saturday. I knew he was rusty but what was encouraging was that with a clear run he still would have won.
"Looking at him in the last 48 hours, I could not be more pleased with him. The owner needs to be commended for racing him at six and the intention after Saturday is for a European campaign."
Conditions look perfect for Jack Hobbs
Things have not gone according to plan for Jack Hobbs since a fruitful three-year-old campaign that saw him finish runner-up in the Derby at Epsom and a clear-cut winner of the Irish equivalent.
Having appeared to be a major candidate for the top mile and a half races in Europe last year, he sustained a stress fracture to his pelvis back in May that blew his season to smithereens. He did, however, put in a fine performance when third on his comeback in the Champion Stakes and with so few miles on the clock, may still have more to offer.
"He's in good form and it's great to be here," said trainer John Gosden, who will put blinkers on Jack Hobbs for the first time. "I think it's a small but fabulous field. He's rated 120, yet is the fourth-highest rated in the field. But this is his game; he won an Irish Derby on a galloping track over 1m4f.
"He needs to improve but I hope he can. He ran a blinder to run third to the best three-year-old in Europe in Almanzor, and the Arc winner Found in the Champion Stakes and he seems in good order right now."