William Buick is keen to get his hands on the Bahrain International Trophy for the first time as his mount Nations Pride bids to give Godolphin further success in the $1million contest.
It was Saeed bin Suroor’s Dubai Future who led home a one-two for Sheikh Mohammed’s racing operation 12 months ago and he is joined in the final field by stablemate Real World this time.
However, it is Charlie Appleby’s Nations Pride that sets the standard following big-race victories at Munich and Woodbine this season and Godolphin number one jockey Buick has elected to partner the four-year-old over fellow Moulton Paddocks candidate Highland Avenue.
Buick said: “Nations Pride is a very good horse. He was a classy three-year-old and went into the 2021 Derby as a genuine contender, but on the day he probably didn’t stay.
“But he has always been held in high regard and he has performed really well since.
“When he won the Group One in Germany, he gave me a really good feel. He beat the German Derby winner in good style. Then, last time out in Canada, the soft ground was not to his liking, but he still won.
“He’s a very straightforward horse to ride. I have not had much luck in the race previously but this fella is different, he’s a mile and quarter specialist and I think he is a real good candidate.
“Nations Pride is the best chance I have had in the Bahrain International Trophy but it is a strong line-up, a really competitive field, and on good, fast ground, you are going to need to have the margins in your favour.”
There is further Godolphin representation provided by Andre Fabre’s Birr Castle, while Andreas Schutz’s French 2000 Guineas hero Marhaba Ya Sanafi also represents France in a race that has a truly international feel.
Aidan O’Brien is poised to saddle Point Lonsdale in a contest that this year carries Group Two status for the first time, with Joseph O’Brien’s Above The Curve and Noel Meade’s Layfayette other Irish challengers.
John and Thady Gosden’s Israr, Daniel and Claire Kubler’s Astro King and Richard Fahey’s Spirit Dancer are also set to line up for the fifth running of the contest at the Sakhir Racecourse.