Space Blues proves out of this world

Space Blues made a winning return to action after a six-month break with a narrow victory in the stc Turf Sprint in Riyadh.

Winner of all four of his four starts in the summer, culminating in a first Group One success in the Prix Maurice de Gheest, the Charlie Appleby-trained five-year-old looks set for another lucrative campaign.

Krispen made the early running and was pressed by the former Richard Hannon-trained Urban Icon, who set sail for home in the straight.

Space Blues shrugged off his stablemate Glorious Journey, but had to knuckle down for William Buick to catch Urban Icon and last year’s winner, Dark Power.

He managed it in the shadow of the post to score a shade cosily in the end from Dark Power, ridden by Frankie Dettori, with Urban Icon just behind in third.

Appleby said: “Absolutely delighted with that. We knew he was a class horse coming into the race and he had a lovely draw. I could see (the ground) was a bit loose for him and our concern was that he might just spin a bit on it, but he’s come back on the bridle turning in like a class horse and put the race to bed at the right time.

“He travels for fun, watching the race there. I’ll be interested to see what William has to say because obviously Dubai World Cup night (Al Quoz Sprint) has to be taken into consideration.”

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Buick said: “We had a great run through. He broke well and I didn’t want to be too close to the pace. The pace was perfect. It wasn’t too hot or too slow. I followed Frankie before the split in the straight. It was how I hoped the race would pan out. He was the best horse and I didn’t want to go for any heroics.

“You’d imagine this would set him for the Al Quoz.”

Gifts Of Gold sprang a 33-1 surprise when taking the spoils in the Red Sea Turf Handicap.

The lesser fancied of two Godolphin runners, Saeed bin Suroor’s six-year-old came with a surging run to assert a furlong and put the race to bed in the hands of Pat Cosgrave.

Gifts Of Gold had been well-beaten over mile at Meydan last month on his first run since since September, but bounced back from that over this one mile and seven furlongs.

Last year’s winner Call The Wind and Mildenberger set the early pace, until the complexion of the race changed at the top of the straight when plenty of horses were in contention.

Gifts Of Gold’s move proved decisive and the outsider took a handy advantage. Andrew Balding’s Spanish Mission looked dangerous, but had to settle for second place.

Godolphin’s first string, the Appleby-trained Secret Advisor, stayed on for third place.

Pink Kamehameha struck a blow for Japan when landing the Al Rajhi Bank Saudi Derby.

The three-year-old colt, trained by Hideyuki Mori and ridden by Keita Tosaki, proved too strong for opposition from Europe, America and the Middle East.

Soft Whisper, Godolphin’s UAE 1000 Guineas winner, was up with the pace from the start but had nothing left in the final furlong as Pink Kamehameha shot clear.

Steve Asmussen’s American raider Cowan finished strongly to take second place, just ahead of Dettori on the John Gosden-trained New Treasure.

Mori and Tosaki went agonisingly close to a double, only for Buick to deliver fellow Japanese raider Copano Kicking with precision and collar Matera Sky on the line in the Saudi Arabian Airlines Riyadh Dirt Sprint.

It was a repeat of 12 months ago for Matera Sky, when he was agonisingly beaten by New York Central after holding a clear lead.

Buick said: “It’s a big win. It’s the first time I’ve won on a Japanese horse outside of Japan.

“I’ve been to Japan many times and I’ve ridden a lot of winners there, but I never won one on elsewhere. I’m very grateful to the trainer and owner for giving me the ride on this horse.”

British challengers Oxted and Brad The Brief were unable to get in a real blow.

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