(Channel Maker will race in $1 million Neom Turf Cup / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)
From the Saudi Cup Media Team:
$US 2,500,000 The Red Sea Turf Handicap
Barbados (IRE) – The well-bred 5-year-old did some gentle exercise on the training track.
“Barbados has travelled very well,” trainer Jessica Harrington said from Ireland. “He settled into the quarantine stables well and has been eating up. He seems to have found a lovely place to roll! Shane (Foley, jockey) was out on the training track this morning with him and he seems to be enjoying himself. I’m very happy with the horse and am hoping he will run a big race on Saturday.”
Call The Wind (GB) – Call The Wind came onto the dirt track for the first time this year on Wednesday morning.
Sebastien Lagrange, who travelled with Call The Wind from France, watched him stretch his legs and said: “He trotted over 1600 metres to warm up and then he cantered once round and went a little faster to finish. We want to keep him fresh.
Gifts Of Gold (IRE) – The Saeed bin Suroor-trained Gifts of Gold was scheduled to arrive from Dubai with the rest of the Godolphin contingent on Wednesday.
Mekong (GB) – The Jamie Osborne trained Mekong cantered this morning on the training track and Jimmy McCarthy, assistant trainer to Jamie Osborne, said: “He is going to continue his prep for the race on the training track. He did all his work at home and will only go to the track on the day of the race.”
Mirinaque (ARG) – The Argentine-bred son of Hurricane Cat cantered “an easy couple of laps” on the dirt track on Wednesday morning and “looked good” according to his trainer Maria Munoz.
The 5-year-old grey will go back to the turf on Thursday morning where he is expected to “go a little faster” as his preparations continue for Saturday’s race over the marathon distance of 3000m.
When asked how her charge was doing, she said: “10 out of 10.”
New Show (IRE) – New Show, a late addition to the field, saw the dirt track for the first time on Wednesday morning. Trained by Fawzi Nass, the 6-year-old gelded son of New Approach is owned by Bahrain-based Victorious and exits a big victory back home.
“I always thought he would stay further than a mile and a half, which is the maximum he’s been in Bahrain,” Nass said. “He’s always looked like a horse who would stay and is in very good form right now.
“He won the Crown Prince Cup in Bahrain three weeks ago, so we’re happy with where he is and think he can compete. We’re obviously very happy he was able to get into the race.”
Prince Of Arran (GB) – The exceptionally well-travelled 8-year-old worked over 1200m.
“He did a good piece of work over six furlongs (1200m) this morning,” said trainer Charlie Fellowes from Newmarket.
“He started at the finishing line, cantered away for two furlongs and then picked it up for the final six. Aled Beech, who is in Saudi Arabia with the horse and who went to Australia with him, just let him roll home the last two furlongs, just a nice stretch to get a blow into him, and he was very happy with him.
“Aled said Prince Of Arran had a nice blow walking home but cleared pretty quickly, which has really put him about spot-on now for his race on Saturday. He’s taken the trip well, as you’d expect from a horse with as much travelling experience as he’s got. He’s been eating and drinking well and moving good, and his temperature has been pretty much spot-on since he landed. So it looks like everything so far has gone smoothly, which is great.
“We are really looking forward to the race, which was a fantastic event last year. I was incredibly impressed with what the authorities put on, and am very sad not to be there myself this year. We are delighted to be part of such a fantastic event and are really looking forward to watching Prince Of Arran on Saturday.”
Red Verdon (USA) – Completed a routine canter on the dirt track with rider Burns Hutchison and will be ridden by jockey Hollie Doyle on the turf on Thursday morning.
Trainer Ed Dunlop said via telephone from Newmarket: “He had a little break and then came back with a prep run at Lingfield (on 6 February). He hasn’t been away properly since Australia, when he was sadly unable to run in the Melbourne Cup, but he loves going abroad and won a Group 2 in France last year.
“I’m expecting him to come on from his Lingfield run but I’m under no illusions, this is a very strong, competitive race.”
Spanish Mission (USA) – Had a gentle move around the dirt track and there is optimism around the Andrew Balding camp.
“He might go for a spin on the grass on Thursday,” said Andrew Balding’s wife and assistant trainer Anna Lisa. “We’re really excited to be here with him, he’s in good form and should run really well.”
$US 2,000,000 The Obaiya Arabian Classic
Mashur Al Khalediah (FR) – The 7-year-old cantered and then breezed for a short distance on the dirt track.
Trainer Phil Collington said: “I’m very pleased with him. This morning we went out to the training track and jogged a lap, then cantered a lap just to loosen him up, then walked to the dirt track and started from about the 1600m pole.
“We just cantered down the back and then lifted a little bit into the straight and let him breeze the last 400m, just to open his lungs and let him have a nice blow. He recovered quickly, and he had a nice long walk and a pick of grass. He’s very well.”
Salam Al Khalediah (FR) – The pride of Polish trainer Maciej Kacprzyk is being looked after by Klaudia Szymaniak and Konrad Mazur, but Kacprzyk has been in close touch over the phone.
He said: “The horse arrived two days ago, he was in quarantine and everything is OK, he seems well, and he’s an experienced horse.
“Even such a long trip was not a problem for him. Today he was working the first time under a saddle and we were able to use the main track. He just cantered slowly, we wanted to see how the surface looked.”
$US 1,500,000 The Al Rajhi Bank Saudi Derby
Cowan (USA) – The Steve Asmussen-trained son of Kantharos trained in the quarantine area as the 3-year-old continued his preparations. Cowan last ran on 22 January when he finished second in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park over a two-turn mile distance.
Meshakel (IRE) – Owner/trainer Salem bin Ghadayer’s Meshakel comes into the Saudi Derby off a tough neck loss in the UAE 2000 Guineas but brings proven Group form over the same 1600m he will contest on Saturday.
Quick out of the gate, the son of Shamardal will likely have company up front on Saturday, but that has not knocked Bin Ghadayer’s confidence.
“I know the Japanese will be fast, but he’s very fast too and he’s in great form,” Bin Ghadayer said. “He came back great after the race and is sound. If everything goes well with him, I think he will run very well. It’s a big race – the Saudi Derby – but I believe in my horse’s ability.”
Soft Whisper (IRE) – For many, Godolphin’s Soft Whisper will be the one to beat after smashing her foes last time out in the UAE 1000 Guineas at Meydan over the same 1600m trip. She comes into this two from two on the dirt and appears to be finding her form at the right time for trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
“She won the Guineas and the Trial very easily and this time will face the colts, but she came back great from her race and I think we can get the best result again from her,” Bin Suroor said. “She will have to be handy in the race and I think that will suit her better. The pace will be faster this time and I think it’s an open race with some very good horses in there.”
$US 1,500,000 Saudi Arabian Airlines Riyadh Dirt Sprint
Copano Kicking (USA) – Had an easy exercise at the training track.
“He stayed on the training track to stretch out his legs because he breezed yesterday. He keeps good condition,” trainer Akira Murayama said. “My only concern is to have him relaxed, not overexcited until the big day. An outside draw will be better to watch the other horses and the jockey can handle the way the race is run.”
Justin (JPN) – Breezed for 800m on the dirt track under jockey Ryusei Sakai, who said: “He was a bit keen before he started his work on the track but is getting settled in. Actually he was more edgy at home and I wanted to sharpen him up towards the race, so I drove him a bit strongly towards the end of the gallop.
“As for the surface of the track, my impression is it looks more sandy and lighter than the surface of the track in Japan. I think Justin has no issue and will handle it. I hope to have a luck with the draw as I do not want to be trapped after the start but he will handle any type of race.”
Matera Sky (USA) – Galloped for 1000m on the dirt track under jockey Keita Tosaki, who said: “I rode him yesterday and today, he was very easy to ride. I was informed to drive a bit strongly towards the end of the gallop. I heard he sometimes does not change leads well in the stretch, but he handled it very smoothly today.”
Oxted (GB) – Worked over 1200m on the dirt track ridden by assistant trainer Harry Teal.
“We just let him have a nice stretch forward this morning,” said trainer Roger Teal. “I thought he looked really good and Harry said he felt great on the surface. He came round the bend nicely – we kicked up a gear on the bend and he handled that alright.
“He went six (furlongs) and Harry built it up as he went along. He quickened into the bend and let him freewheel around the turn and then for the last furlong let him have a good stride out. We were very happy with that.”
Roman River (GB) – Has proved a consistent type since his arrival in Bahrain, having been previously trained by trainer Allan Smith’s Newmarket-based son Martin.
“He arrived with the rest of the horses on Tuesday, it’s only a six-hour journey by lorry so not too far,” Smith said. “He just went on the training track with Rayounpour and Dark Power. “We bought Roman River from the breeze-up sales, he’s six now but it seems like he’s only just maturing.”
$US 1,000,000 The Neom Turf Cup
Channel Maker (CAN) – One day after working a lively 600m, the 7-year-old English Channel gelding walked in the quarantine area Wednesday morning according to Neil Poznansky, assistant to trainer Bill Mott.
“He came out (of yesterday’s work) super,” he said. “He will train on the main track tomorrow.”
For The Top (ARG) – Following a poor effort in the Group 2 Singspiel in Dubai, RRR Racing’s Group 1 winner For The Top appears to have bounced back well, according to conditioner Salem bin Ghadayer. He returns for a race in which he was third last year, beaten less than a length.
“I think everything will go well for him,” the trainer said. “He galloped the other day very well and his homework has been very good. He’s much fitter now and I think he will run much better than last time. I have been very happy with how he is at the moment. I think he will run even better than last year.”
Tilsit (USA) – Cantered on the dirt track with Henry Morshead, who said: “It was the first time he had been on the dirt but he moved well. He was having a good look as there were more horses around but I was very happy with him. He might just quicken up a bit tomorrow in the straight on the grass.”
$US 1,000,000 stc 1351 Turf Sprint
Dark Power (IRE) – Allan Smith’s defending champion is settling back into familiar surroundings, having finished third in two reappearance outings in Bahrain.
“There might be a better-class field this year but Frankie Dettori knows him and he’s in good form,” Smith said.”It’s been difficult with the programme, he’s had two races since being off for a few months and he has had to run over 1200m, but he’s getting there.”
Land Of Legends (IRE) – Godolphin’s Saeed bin Suroor-trained Land Of Legends enters as a serious player on the strength of his win in the Al Fahidi Fort at Meydan over 1400m.
Last year, the first and third finishers from the Al Fahidi Fort, Glorious Journey and Mubtasim, returned to finish third and second in the 1351 Turf Sprint. “He showed plenty of speed last time and I think that will suit him with the trip,” Bin Suroor said.
“He needs to jump and be handy in the race. He’s doing well and he’s in great condition. I’m very hopeful. I’d like to be drawn in the middle.”
Space Blues (IRE) and Glorious Journey (GB) – Charlie Appleby’s two runners travelled from Dubai to Riyadh on Wednesday.
He said: “Glorious Journey has had a run at Meydan. He finished third in this race last year from an outside draw and he has been his usual consistent self this campaign. He came out here and put up a sensible performance in the Al Fahidi. He has definitely come on for that run. Hopefully we will have a better draw this year to give James (Doyle) a better chance to get the job done.”
Appleby continued: “Space Blues went to Meydan last week for a racecourse gallop with Secret Advisor and they have both come forward for that gallop, which should hopefully put them spot on for the weekend. He comes into the race on the back of a good European campaign. It was great to see him get his Group 1 last year (the Prix Maurice de Gheest) and he was pretty faultless really.”
$US 500,000 Al Rajhi Bank Saudi International Handicap
Noray (FR) and Federico (GB) – The Spanish runners have won 25 races between them and they had an easy canter on the training track on Wednesday morning.
“They are fit and we are just doing an easy exercise in the next few days,” said trainer Enrique Leon Peñate. “It was a long journey for them and Federico is a little quieter but they both seem to have travelled well. I am happy with them and it is a very proud moment for us to be here.”
Rayounpour (IRE) – Formerly trained in Ireland, the 5-year-old was a winner of a 2400m event in Bahrain. “He’ll probably have a little breeze on Thursday but he’s plenty fit enough,” trainer Allan Smith said.
For more information on The Saudi Cup including Entries, Past Performances and Where to Watch: www.thesaudicup.com.sa