Saturday, 20 February, 2021
Japanese horses claimed a one-two in the US $1.5 million Riyadh Dirt Sprint sponsored by Saudi Arabian Airlines as Copano Kicking (USA) overhauled the luckless Matera Sky (JPN).
Matera Sky had looked the likely winner for much of the way last year before being collared by the home-trained New York Central and was travelling ominously well at the front under Keita Tosaki.
However, Copano Kicking and William Buick, who was towards the rear of the field and still had lengths to find with 200m to go, found the necessary gears late on to deprive the runner-up by a quarter of a length.
The 6-year-old gelding is a multiple Graded winner in Japan and Buick had come in for the ride after he had partnered another winner for owner Sachiaki Kobayashi when on a short-term contract in the country.
Akira Murayama, trainer, Copano Kicking, 1st: "He is a very talented horse but he’s not easy to train, he’s temperamental, very edgy and overexcited and he didn’t do too much work this week before the race.
"I called the owner before the winner’s ceremony, he was very happy, he spoke to William and asked him to ride his horses again in Japan when he comes back. He will go to Dubai, hopefully for the Golden Shaheen. I thought it was going to be a tough race and I’m pleased that we beat last year’s winner."
William Buick, jockey, Copano Kicking: "He was slowly away but I was soon on the tails of the leaders coming into the bend and he picked up really well."
Keita Tosaki, jockey, Matera Sky, 2nd: "I think Matera Sky ran his race. I thought he won and made revenge as last year’s runner up. But he toughed it out."
Wigberto ‘Wiggy’ Ramos, jockey, Faz Zae, 3rd: “I’m very happy. That’s the way he runs. He starts with the horses then he hangs back, then at the 400m he comes again. Today he was closer than before so I gave him a little break at the 600m and then I kicked. It’s been a great meeting for me - I had a winner yesterday and today and I was very happy with this horse."
Rest of jockey quotes:
Mickael Barzalona, Switzerland, 4th: "I had him in a good position. He travelled well. When he came next to (Matera Sky), I thought we would be close. He just got a little bit tired in the end. He ran a good race and the owner should be happy with that. It would’ve been better if we would’ve been third."
Alexis Moreno, Maypole, 5th: "The race was too speedy. I tried to do my best but you know they bring champions over. My horse ran well."
Ryusei Sakai, Justin, 6th: "He missed the break and did not have his run."
Cieren Fallon, Oxted, 7th: "It was obviously an unknown on the dirt. He is by Mayson and has a lovely knee action and he ran well on the soft ground at Ascot so we thought we would give it a go.
"Today he really struggled. He came off the bridle after the first two furlongs, which is very unlike him. He is a horse that travels well, very strong. We came here on the unknown and we chanced it and it didn't pay off. But he will have a great season on the turf back home in England. You never know, the Breeders' Cup on the turf at the end of the year could be on the cards but we are definitely not going to take our chances on the dirt any time soon."
Mohammed Aldaham, Raaed, 8th: "Too fast. Nice horses, all the horses are good. All of them are Group 1 horses."
Hollie Doyle, Brad The Brief, 9th: "He jumped and travelled really well, and I was surprised how much pace he showed. The only problem was he hit a flat spot three out (600m) and got a bit disunited, and once they’ve done that it’s hard to recover on the dirt. But he tried, that’s the main thing."
Gavin Ryan, Harry’s Bar, 10th: "There was quite a lot of kickback. My horse could never get competitive. There was a strong pace and I was never really in the race."
Luis Morales, Raucous, 13th: "At least I broke well. The race was so fast. They can run."