Friday, 19 February, 2021
$US 2,500,000 The Red Sea Turf Handicap
Call The Wind (GB) - Freddy Head was very pleased watching Call The Wind canter in front of the grandstand on Friday morning. He was the first horse to arrive on the dirt track at 7am and after a warm-up jog, he did a slow canter down the straight.
"Look, he’s got his ears pricked," Head said. "He is very calm this morning, very relaxed. He was not always like that. As a three-year-old he was untrainable, so I had to geld him. Now, he is a different horse. He is intelligent."
Mildenberger (GB) - Mark Johnston was on hand to see his ultra-consistent six-year-old have a final leg stretch on the dirt.
"He had a temperature when he arrived, which was a bit of a concern and he was unable to do any ridden work for the first few days but he’s apparently been well throughout that time, eating well and bright and so on, the temperature has come back down to normal," Johnston said. "He was back out to exercise, everything seems fine.
"It’s a very competitive race but I think he’s as good a chance as anybody, he comes here off a win so I’m very hopeful."
Prince Of Arran (GB) - the highly experienced international traveller did some light exercise on Friday.
"Prince Of Arran had a little canter this morning; just a normal exercise," said trainer Charlie Fellowes from Newmarket. “Aled (Beech, who is looking after the horse) is very happy with him; he seems to be in good form and has taken his piece of work on Wednesday well.
"Now it’s all systems go for the big race tomorrow. He’ll probably have a little trot tomorrow morning, just to get him out and get him moving, and that should put him absolutely spot-on for the race.
"We’re delighted with the draw; I think if you’d given me free choice before the race of where I’d want to come out of, stall four would probably have been my first pick, so I couldn’t be happier with that.
"We’ve got Frankie Dettori, the best jockey in the world at the moment, on board, and we’re really looking forward to seeing him run. Fingers crossed that the next 24 hours go smoothly - we’re really looking forward to the big race."
Spanish Mission (USA) - Andrew Balding, who has been monitoring preparations from home, said: "I think he’s fairly weighted and he ought to be competitive. I’d have loved to have got a prep race into him but there wasn’t really a suitable one. He’s done as much as he can at home, anyway."
$US 2,000,000 The Obaiya Arabian Classic
Hajres (TUN) and Jarif (FR) - The Elisabeth Bernard trained duo came onto the dirt track on Friday morning where they cantered slowly for one lap and she said: "The went cool this morning. One day when I was in Dubai, I talked to Alain de Royer Dupre, a trainer I respect very much and who has been all around the world.
"And he said to me that when you travel your horses, I have a rule to always do less than what I would do at home in Chantilly, because I consider the travel, the stress, the tiredness, the plane. So I do the same. And here today, both of the horses are just perfect. They are totally different, have different characters, but I like both of them."
Salam Al Khalediah (FR) - The Polish challenger had a quiet morning, with trainer Maciej Kacprzyk seeming quietly confident of a decent showing.
"He did his last gallop on Thursday, two days before the race," he said. "Normally he would have been based in Poland but it’s very cold now and the weather was awful so he went to Chantilly three and a half weeks ago and that was better so he could train normally. I’m hoping he’s going to run well."
Kacprzyk, who trains 40 horses, a mixture of thoroughbreds and Purebred Arabians, at the Słuzewiec racecourse in Warsaw and is getting used to international campaigning.
"It’s like a dream come true," he said. "I’ve been training only five years, everything is moving really fast. Since start of my career I got the opportunity to train Al Khalediah horses, some of the best in the world.
"Salam came to me aged five, not even broken, so his career started late. Step by step he’s come through, he won a Group 3 in Italy last year in a good field, so that season I believed he can compete at the highest level."
$US 1,500,000 The Al Rajhi Bank Saudi Derby
Cowan (USA) - The 3-year-old Steve Asmussen trainee kept his final preparations to the quarantine area of Friday morning.
Meshakel (IRE) - Salem bin Ghadayer’s Meshakel cantered an easy 1200m on Friday morning. The UAE 2000 Guineas runner-up will be ridden by Mickael Barzalona on Saturday, but was piloted by Antonio Fresu on Friday morning for his easy jaunt.
"He felt good," Fresu said. "He was very fresh, but he is a 3-year-old and likes to run. He feels ready to run."
New Treasure (IRE) - The New Approach gelding is making his first start in the colours of Prince Faisal bin Khaled.
The owner’s racing manager Ted Voute said: "New Treasure is an interesting horse. We bought him at a horses-in-training sale from Jim Bolger. He was a rig when we bought him, with one testicle quite high which we felt was probably hurting him a little, so we gelded him and obviously hope that’s made a bit of difference.
"He’s quite a keen horse and his work on the track has been good so far. I’m hoping that being out of a Congaree mare he will like the dirt, and hope that the race will be run with a bit of speed, which might suit him."
Pink Kamehameha (JPN) - The Hideyuki Mori-trained Pink Kamehameha stayed back in the quarantine area. The 3-year-old colt by Leontes started his racing career in a maiden over 1800m on turf last July and will be competing on a dirt surface for the first time in his career.
Rebel Romance (IRE) cantered a lap of the dirt track between his stable-mates Secret Advisor and Space Blues.
Trainer Charlie Appleby said: "He had an easy canter, just a stride quicker this morning. Rebel’s Romance is a big, scopey horse and has quite a frame to fill but he’s obviously shown some talent which is nice to see, so let’s see how far we can get with him.
"This is a big step forward for him tomorrow - Saeed’s filly (Soft Whisper) was very impressive in the UAE Guineas and will get the fillies’ allowance."
Soft Whisper (IRE) - The team behind Godolphin’s talented UAE 1000 Guineas-winning filly Soft Whisper watched as the daughter of Dubawi cantered a lap of the dirt course, following yard-mate Gifts of Gold, who contests the Red Sea Turf Handicap.
The filly’s form was franked on Thursday evening as a rival she bested by seven lengths in the Guineas, Doug Watson-trained Mnasek, won the UAE Oaks.
"She looks good today," said Ricardo Corona, assistant trainer to Saeed bin Suroor. "It was good to see Doug’s filly (Mnasek) win last night. We are glad to have (jockey) Mike Smith on her (in the race), who is a great dirt rider."
$US 1,500,000 Saudi Arabian Airlines Riyadh Dirt Sprint
Copano Kicking (USA) - The 6-year-old horse did not come onto the track and stayed in the quarantine area.
Justin (JPN)- The Yoshito Yahagi-trained son of the Japanese Triple Crown winner Orfevre had an easy work in the quarantine area.
The 5-year-old debuted on turf in 2018 and won two from eight runs over the surface and has shifted to race on dirt since the autumn of 2019. Showing his consistency over the surface with six wins from 12 runs, Justin duelled out victory in the Grade 3 Capella Stakes at Nakayama last December.
Matera Sky (USA) - A runner-up here last year, Matera Sky had an easy and light canter on the main dirt track. The very international-minded trainer Hideyuki Mori said: “He is a very proven shipper. Obviously he has gained 10kg of weight during the flight from Japan to Saudi Arabia.
"He can take a lead and use his natural speed to the finish. We will not change any tactics and inside draw will be a good advantage for us. He has trained very well since he has arrived. I think his condition is as good as last year’s race here. We will against last year’s winner (New York Central) again, so I expect it is going to be a tough race."
Oxted (GB) had an easy exercise on the dirt track on Friday. His jockey Cieren Fallon Jr arrived in Riyadh on Thursday but Harry Teal rode him on Friday.
Sue Teal, wife of trainer Roger, said: “We’re really pleased with him. He was fantastic this morning. He didn’t do anything much but he just went round and he’s in a happy place. Fingers crossed everything goes to plan tomorrow."
Harry Teal added: "He’s in great form and feels brilliant."
Roman River (GB) - Allan Smith has seen pleasing progress from his horse back home and has asked little of him since his arrival in Saudia Arabia midweek.
"He’s got good form in Bahrain and he’s a good little horse, we’ll just see if he goes on the dirt. He’ll see every bit of the 1200m out. "
Switzerland (USA) - Has impressed Bhupat Seemar, nephew and assistant trainer to Satish Seemar, since the 7-year-old Speightstown horse has been under their care.
Making his first start in 10 months and his first for the Seemars when victorious in the Group 3 Dubawi Stakes at Meydan last month, Bhupat Seemar was thrilled with the result.
"It was his first with us and he’d obviously been with good trainers (Steve Asmussen and Doug Watson) before us," he said. "When he came to us, he didn’t do anything wrong in the mornings and we expected him to run big, but you never know if they’re just a morning glory. Thankfully he wasn’t and took his best to the evening. He’s drawn well (in post five) and we should be able to stalk."
$US 1,000,000 The Neom Turf Cup
Channel Maker (USA) - The US Eclipse Award champion turf horse of 2020 finished his preparations on Friday morning by standing in the gate under Neil Poznansky, assistant trainer to Bill Mott.
"He stood nicely," Poznansky said. "Like (Saudi Cup starter) Tacitus, he’s sharp and race ready."
The 7-year-old gelded son of English Channel will be making his first start of the year in the 2100m race on the turf track. His last start was a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
"Channel Maker’s been working well," Mott said Thursday evening from the United States. "He looks good. We’ve been happy with his progression since the Breeders’ Cup."
True Self (IRE) - Patrick Cleary, who travelled with the Willie Mullins trained True Self to Saudi Arabia, was very happy with the mare when he said: “On Thursday she went onto the Turf and cantered 1200m and just quickened over the last 200m, to give her a little blowout, that’s all.
"On Friday, she stayed on the track by the quarantine barns, where she did a little canter. She is amazing. She travelled over really well. She actually put on weight in travel. She knows her job, she is easy to travel. She drinks, she sleeps, she eats, she is really a lovely mare to travel. She is drawn nine, which is OK. She travels easily, so the draw is not that important. Nothing bothers her."
$US 1,000,000 stc 1351 Turf Sprint
Dark Power (IRE) - The Bahrain raider is the defending champion, having caused something of an upset under Frankie Dettori 12 months ago.
"He’s been in good form," trainer Allan Smith said. "He was a bit rusty on his first run back then it didn’t suit him over the straight 1200m last time, but he’s done noting wrong, he’s on his racing weight of last year. There are one or two better horses probably than last year, it’s a very competitive race, but maybe he’s learned a bit."
The multiple champion trainer of Bahrain was thrilled to strike at the inaugural Saudi Cup. "You like to be there competing on the big day, especially if you’re able to pull it off," he said. "To be honest it didn’t surprise me that much that he won, you’ve got lot of good 1200m horses but I always thought he was better at 1400m, so this probably suits him better."
Glorious Journey (GB) and Space Blues (IRE) - Glorious Journey remained on the training track on Friday and Space Blues cantered a lap of the dirt track behind stable-mates Secret Advisor and Rebel’s Romance.
Trainer Charlie Appleby said: "They had an easy canter round. Glorious Journey once again stayed on the training track. It suits him there. He can get a bid revved on the main track.
"The other three have just gone a stride quicker this morning. They are all relaxed and they have all eaten up. We’re looking forward to tomorrow now."