Oxted must defy wide draw in Riyadh Sprint

Oxted has to overcome a wide draw as well handling a different surface in the Saudi Arabian Airlines Riyadh Dirt Sprint.

Trainer Roger Teal has been pleased the way his July Cup winner has worked on the dirt track in Riyadh, but admits a lower draw would have been preferable this weekend.

“He’s been happy on the dirt, and obviously we’ll find out more on Saturday,” said the Lambourn trainer.

“He’s training well on it, so we’re good to go, but he’s not got the best draw in the world.

“He’s been drawn 11. It will be a bit tougher out there, but we can’t do anything about it. We’ve just got to get on with it. Everything else is good.”

Hollie Doyle admits her mount Brad The Brief has something to find on form, but she expects Tom Dascombe’s four-year-old to put up a decent show.

“He won in France last time. He’s got a bit of improvement to be up to this, but I think he should run well,” she said.

Tilsit takes a shot at a mile and a quarter for the first time in the Neom Turf Cup, where he would be a poignant winner in the colours of the late Khalid Abdullah.

Tilsit steps up in trip for the Neom Turf Cup
Tilsit steps up in trip for the Neom Turf Cup (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Having had just the four starts over a mile, Charlie Hills’ four-year-old is unexposed.

“Not many horses can say they’ve won by 19 lengths, even over jumps!” said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owners Juddmonte Farms.

“Obviously that Newcastle performance was striking, albeit in a weak race, but he followed that up by winning at Goodwood in a Group Three.

“He probably needed the race a little at Newmarket, but he still ran well in the Joel Stakes and wasn’t beaten very far. This race has always been in the back of our minds.

“It’s a little further than a mile, so that’s a little unknown, but the Prince’s family were keen for him to take a shot as he likes fast ground.

“He’s drawn on the outside, but over 10 furlongs I like to think that shouldn’t make too much difference.”

True Self is one of Hollie Doyle's rides in Riyadh
True Self is one of Hollie Doyle’s rides in Riyadh (Mike Egerton/PA)
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The Willie Mullins-trained True Self drops down in trip, but Doyle feels that could suit.

“She’s dropping down in trip, a bit of a globetrotter, but she ran well over further here last year – and I think the step down in trip will be a positive,” she said.

Soft Whisper takes on the colts in the Al Rahji Bank Saudi Derby, having romped to victory in the UAE 1000 Guineas.

Trainer Saeed bin Suroor reports the filly to be in tremendous shape.

“She won the trial and the Guineas 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,” he said.

Saeed bin Suroor reports Soft Whisper to be in fine form ahead of the Saudi Derby
Saeed bin Suroor reports Soft Whisper to be in fine form for the Saudi Derby (Mike Egerton/PA)

“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.”

Godolphin have a second string to their bow in Rebel’s Romance, winner of the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial.

His trainer Charlie Appleby said: “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 – Saeed’s filly was very impressive in the UAE Guineas and will get the fillies’ allowance.”

Trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam takes a punt with Albadri following his victory at Southwell.

Doyle was in the plate that day and continues the association.

“He won at Southwell, and I think he’s taken to the dirt really well – which is a good sign,” she said.

“Whether he’s good enough I’m not sure, but I’m sure he’ll run well.”

Charlie Fellowes reports the globetrotting Prince Of Arran to be on song for the Red Sea Turf Handicap.

Prince Of Arran's trainer Charlie Fellowes
Prince Of Arran’s trainer Charlie Fellowes (Simon Cooper/PA)

The Newmarket trainer said: “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.”

Red Verdon is another who enjoys travel and he has had the benefit of a pipe-opener two weeks ago. However, his trainer Ed Dunlop accepts this is a tough ask.

“He had a little break and then came back with a prep run at Lingfield,” he said.

“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 Two in France last year.

Red Verdon represents Ed Dunlop in the Red Sea Turf Handicap
Red Verdon represents Ed Dunlop in the Red Sea Turf Handicap (Steve Davies/PA)

“I’m expecting him to come on from his Lingfield run, but I’m under no illusions – this is a very strong, competitive race.”

Andrew Balding was unable to get a prep race into Spanish Mission, but believes his runner has a lot going for him.

“He’s reasonably well-treated on the best of his form. Ideally we could have done with a prep race, but there was nothing suitable for him,” said Balding.

“He’s a talented stayer, and conditions should suit him.”

Mark Johnston is happy with Mildenberger following a brief scare on arrival.

The Middleham trainer said: “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, (and) the temperature has come back down to normal.

“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.”

Appleby is double-handed with Space Blues and Glorious Journey in the STC 1351 Turf Sprint.

Trainer Charlie Appleby
Trainer Charlie Appleby (Simon Cooper/PA)

He said: “Space Blues went to Meydan last week for a racecourse gallop and has come forward for that gallop, which should hopefully put him 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 One last year, and he was pretty faultless really.

“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.”

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