Saudi Cup contender Mishriff in mighty form

Mishriff’s connections are delighted with last year’s French Derby hero as he goes for glory in the world’s richest race, the Saudi Cup, in Riyadh.

The John Gosden-trained colt takes on two of America’s best dirt horses in the Brad Cox-trained Pegasus World Cup winner Knicks Go and Bob Baffert’s lightly-raced Grade One star Charlatan as well as other classy performers in Saturday’s $20 million showpiece.

One thing Mishriff has in his favour is that he has had experience of Riyadh’s dirt surface, having finished second in the Saudi Derby at this meeting 12 months ago.

Mishriff proved himself to be a leading three-year-old when winning his next three races, including the Prix du Jockey Club before running below par in the Champion Stakes at Ascot on his final start.

The Make Believe colt is reported to be in tip-top shape to start his four-year-old campaign.

“Everything’s good. I saw him this morning. David Egan rode him round the race track with John Gosden’s other horses Global Giant and New Treasure,” said Ted Voute, racing manager to owner Prince Faisal.

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“He stretched his legs, and it went very well.

“Mishriff didn’t do anything strenuous. He changed his legs perfectly going into the turn, which was nice to see.

“He did everything he was asked. He’s bouncing and he looks really well. He looks as well as I’ve seen him.

“He really enjoys it and he’s posing for the cameras. He likes it out here and seems to thrive on travel.

“We’re just looking forward to the big day.”

Andrew Balding saddles Bangkok, who is trying a dirt surface for the first time.

The five-year-old had a confidence-boosting win at Lingfield this month.

“He’s had a relatively busy winter and seems in great form,” said the Kingsclere trainer.

“Obviously it’s a big ask against the best horses around, and it’s his first time on a surface like that, but he’s in great shape.

“He’s a horse we’ve always thought a lot of.”

Extra Elusive is Hollie Doyle's mount in the Saudi Cup
Extra Elusive is Hollie Doyle’s mount in the Saudi Cup (Tim Goode/PA)

Extra Elusive finished two places ahead of Mishriff when sixth in the Champion Stakes on his first try in Group One company.

The Roger Charlton-trained gelding had earned his chance at the top level with a pair of Group Three victories.

Extra Elusive will be ridden by Hollie Doyle in her capacity as retained jockey to owner Imad Alsagar. She is hoping for a good run if he can overcome a wide draw and act on the surface.

“I’ve got drawn 14 – which has its pros and cons,” she said.

“I’m not sure how he’ll handle the dirt and the kickback – but he ran well in the Champion Stakes, so hopefully he can run a nice race.”

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