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Mishriff in top form with Eclipse target

Mishriff remains on target for the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown in July after connections opted not to enter the brilliant four-year-old at Royal Ascot.

He has yet to win at the top level on home soil, having been unsuccessful on his only attempt to date in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot in October.

Mishriff’s three Group One victories have all come abroad – in the French Derby, the Saudi Cup and the Dubai Sheema Classic.

The son of Make Believe, trained by John and Thady Gosden, was last seen winning the latter contest at Meydan in March.

However, connections are pleased with Mishriff and the plan is for him to reappear in the mile-and-a-quarter showpiece at the Esher venue.

“He’s ticking along and John is happy with him. He’s quite a fresh horse,” said Ted Voute, racing manager to owner Prince Faisal.

“He didn’t enter him at Royal Ascot. He wants to go straight to the Eclipse and see how he gets on there.

“Mishriff is in the Arc as well, with all the other artillery from the big stables.

“We’re very happy with him and the Eclipse is the aim as it is now.

“He was a bit lighter in Dubai than he was in Saudi Arabia, but obviously he performed well there.

“He’s so adaptable. He can come from behind or run up with the pace, he can go on heavy ground and over different distances. Let’s hope it continues.”

Mishriff part of strong Eclipse team for Gosden

Globe-trotting superstar Mishriff is one of 45 initial entries for the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.

John and Thady Gosden’s four-year-old has won both the Saudi Cup – the world’s richest race – and the Sheema Classic at the Dubai World Cup meeting already this year.

Mishriff, unraced since the second of those two hugely lucrative back-to-back triumphs in late March, is joined among the contenders for the 10-furlong Group One on July 3 by stablemates Lord North, winner of the Dubai Turf when last seen, and Europe’s top miler Palace Pier.

Dual Classic winner Love is part of the entries for the Eclipse
Dual Classic winner Love is part of the entries for the Eclipse (David Davies/PA)

Aidan O’Brien is very well-represented with 16 of the entries, published on Wednesday – and his dual Classic-winning filly Love and Armory, victorious in last week’s Huxley Stakes at Chester, are both prominent in the sponsors’ betting behind favourite Mishriff.

O’Brien, a five-time winner of the Eclipse but seeking his first success since 2011, may also run current Derby favourite Bolshoi Ballet and 1000 Guineas winner Mother Earth – two of the 28 three-year-olds initially in contention.

The Gosdens also have two three-year-old possibles, in Megallan and the unbeaten Mostahdaf.

Among other eyecatchers are William Haggas’ much-travelled multiple Group One winner Addeybb, O’Brien’s Japan – third to Ghaiyyath and Enable last year – and James Fanshawe’s  Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf heroine Audarya.

Magical Mishriff digs deep in Sheema Classic

Mishriff delivered another brilliant performance to win the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan.

John Gosden’s colt, already a winner of the world’s richest race in the Saudi Cup at Riyadh last month, displayed versatility as well as the highest class by switching back to turf here and winning on his first attempt at a mile and a half.

Mishriff had to do it the hard way too, challenging down the outside after being last of the nine-strong field exiting the back straight, and then proving his stamina as well as his acceleration to hold off two Japanese challengers Chrono Genesis and Loves Only You in a driving finish.

For Gosden, and son Thady who now shares their British trainer’s licence, it was a second big win in under an hour on the Dubai World Cup card – following Lord North’s success in the Turf.

Mishriff, who won at 4-1, had a neck to spare from Chrono Genesis at the line, with Loves Only You and Oisin Murphy another neck back in third.

Gosden junior was quick to pay tribute to winning rider David Egan.

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He said: “They were two absolutely flawless rides (here and Saudi) from David – brilliant.

“It sounds sycophantic when you’re sitting next to him. But he obviously made a decision, when he didn’t break as well from that draw, to drop him in. You have to have a pretty cool head to be able to do that in that race.

“Over a mile and a half for the first time, if you try to send him to the lead to get him up there, there’s a pretty significant risk you’re going to end up setting him alight – and the race would be over before it really started.

“So David obviously made the correct decision to drop him in and switch him off and strike when he did.

“He’s a very versatile horse, and a brilliant and tough horse as well – and he definitely wasn’t for beating today.

“We’ll take him home and see how he is, and he’ll tell us what he’d like to do in the very near future.”

Put to him that the yard is in great form since the training link with this father was made official, Gosden smiled: “It’s a wonderful start.

“I think I’ll probably have to retire now!”

Egan is enjoying every moment with the Prince Faisal-owned Mishriff.

He said: “I was able to get a pitch at the back of the pack. I didn’t bounce him out of the gates, like I did in Saudi. I did more of the complete opposite – I was very relaxed going out.

“He jumped slowly, which was ideal, and I was able to slot across and have someone on my inside and get a smooth run up the middle of the track.

“He showed a good turn of foot to cruise up there from that position. I thought he was really tough in the last 100 yards – another horse could have easily thrown in the towel. He showed a lot of grit and just about got the mile and a half.”

He added: “I’m just thankful to everyone around me for putting me in the position to be able to ride such a champion in Mishriff.

“He’s so versatile – he can run over any trip on any surface. Any trip for Mishriff, he’s taken it all in his stride. So we’ll take on any trip, and any horse.

“Coming off the Saudi Cup win, maybe some would say the pressure was more immense (for me) – because he had more of a chance and he’s stepping up against top-class horses here.

“But I felt pretty cool – which I probably needed to be, to get him to relax and switch off in the first half of the race.”

Mishriff mission to give Thady Gosden dream start

As dream starts to a new career go, winning the Dubai Sheema Classic with Mishriff would be hard to beat for Thady Gosden.

A regular presence on racecourses in recent years representing his father John, he now shares the British licence at Clarehaven Stables in Newmarket.

The team enjoyed a first winner on a joint ticket at Lingfield on Friday -and while Mishriff runs solely in Gosden senior’s name in Dubai, it is the younger man who has been overseeing preparations at Meydan.

“He takes everything in his stride,” he said, of Mishriff.

“He travelled very well to Saudi and enjoyed the training out there, and it’s been the same here.

“I think he likes the routine of coming out on to the track, doing a lap and going back in. It’s nothing too stressful at all.

“He’s still holding his condition well from all the travelling. Obviously its a pretty long way there and back, and then a month later come back out here, but he’s taken it all very well so far – we’ll find out on Saturday.”

As well as winning connections a fortune, Mishriff proved his versatility in the Saudi Cup on dirt but now steps up in trip and goes back on the turf.

Thady Gosden speaks to the press in Dubai
Thady Gosden speaks to the press in Dubai (Dubai Racing Club/Marthea Kelley)

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“He broke well, and David (Egan) gave him a brilliant ride (in Saudi),” said Gosden.

“Obviously the American horses, including Charlatan, had a lot of early speed so he knew he had to be up there with them and if he got away in the straight, he might be tough to catch. David rode him perfectly, and the horse showed a lot of class.

“He has plenty of size and scope about him as well and he’s really matured well into a four-year-old – he’s definitely gone the right way from three.

“The thought process was that we’ll always be running on turf back in the UK – it’s a mile-and-a-half race, and depending on how he runs that will decide his road map for the rest of the year and which races to target.”

David Egan handled the pressure well in the Saudi Cup
David Egan handled the pressure well in the Saudi Cup (Bill Selwyn/PA)

Of Egan, who missed a couple of big-race rides on Mishriff last year through suspension and Covid protocols, Gosden said: “He’s very cool, calm and collected all the time.

“He thinks everything through thoroughly – he’s a brilliant jockey.”

While predicting not much will change at Clarehaven, the 25-year-old does admit to a sense of anticipation.

“Its very exciting,” he said.

“We’re lucky at home – we have a wonderful team there, who work incredibly hard, so hopefully things will go in the right direction, but we’ll find out! Things obviously won’t change very much.”

Chief opponent to Mishriff, according to the betting at least, is Aidan O’Brien’s Mogul, another to have won a big international race – in Hong Kong.

O’Brien has never made any secret of the regard in which he holds Mogul, and this could be the year he really delivers.

“Obviously this will be his first run of the season, but he ran in the middle of December in Hong Kong – he came out of that race very well and he seems to be in good form,” said O’Brien.

“He is a horse that likes nice ground, and a flat track seems to suit him. The ground is always beautiful in Meydan, and it’s a great track.

“We think Mogul is ready to start for the season. He is a very solid horse who has a lot of experience of travelling – and he seems to thrive from that really.

“But we are never under any illusions that it is always very competitive racing out there and there are very highly-rated horses competing in these races.”

Mogul takes in his surroundings at Meydan
Mogul takes in his surroundings at Meydan (Erika Ramussen/Dubai Racing Club)

Charlie Appleby runs two in Walton Street and Star Safari, and it is the former who carries his main hopes.

Appleby told www.godolphin.com: “Walton Street goes into this on the back of a very good trial in the Dubai City Of Gold, when he repeated his track record time.

“He has to improve again to be competitive at this level, but ticks a lot of boxes in terms of home advantage.”

Saeed bin Suroor runs Dubai Future, the mount of Frankie Dettori – and while he has been consistent this season, he has three lengths to find with Walton Street.

“He’s a tough horse, always tries his best and he’s in good form, always runs well in Dubai,” said Bin Suroor.

“The trip will suit him, Frankie Dettori will ride. It won’t be an easy race, but we’re looking for a good run from him.”

Andrew Balding runs St Leger runner-up Berkshire Rocco, while Oisin Murphy rides the Japanese filly Loves Only You. Arima Kinen winner Chrono Genesis is another leading hope.

Egan counting down the hours to Mishriff in Sheema Classic

David Egan has hailed Mishriff’s versatility as the four-year-old prepares to tackle 12 furlongs for the first time in Saturday’s Longines Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan.

The four-year-old has made his second trip to the Middle East in just over a month for the Group One feature, having landed just short of £7.3million when winning the Saudi Cup – the world’s most valuable race – in Riyadh last month.

That was his second visit to Riyadh, having finished second in the Saudi Derby last February, while he achieved Group One gold in the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly in the summer before adding a Deauville Group Two to his haul.

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Egan believes Mishriff’s ability to travel is testament to the strong constitution of John Gosden’s charge.

He said on Tuesday: “It’s fantastic to be connected with such a versatile, top-class horse. I saw him out on the track today, he looks well and hopefully he can do the business on Saturday.

“Mr Gosden (said) ever since he’s been back to Newmarket, he’s been full of beans and raring to go again, so they decided to make the trip back out to Meydan and I get to sit on him tomorrow, so I can kind of gauge where he’s at in comparison to Riyadh, but everything’s looking good so far.

“It’s not easy (to travel). He did all his intense training in the snow in Newmarket and it’s not easy to do, to be able to acclimatise him so quickly and turn him around to win the richest race in the world. It’s a hard thing to do and it just shows you what a versatile horse he is.

“Every time he’s run, he’s travelled. I know he went to Ascot and Newmarket (last year), but he went to France twice, to Riyadh twice and now on to Meydan, so it’s a credit to the horse and Mr Gosden’s team.”

Mishriff’s thrilling Saudi Cup win from American ace Charlatan came over nine furlongs on dirt in Riyadh, but he faces a totally different test at Meydan, running over a mile and a half on turf.

While the Prince Faisal-owned Make Believe colt is obviously no stranger to turf, he has yet to run over further than an extended 10 furlongs – but Egan thinks victory this weekend could open more avenues, including a possible crack at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in the autumn.

He said: “It’s a lot of money (on Saturday) but it’s not the be-all and end-all. It’s going to be a long season for Mishriff now. I’m sure going for the Sheema Classic rather than the Dubai World Cup was something Prince Faisal and Mr Gosden thought a lot about before deciding which race to go for.

“Obviously they have in the back of their minds how he’s going to be campaigned for this season, whether he sticks to a mile and a quarter or even drops back in trip or steps up to the mile and a half.

“If things all go well on Saturday, there’s a lot of options – maybe even the Arc at the end of the year could be the main target, but we’ll get Saturday out of the way first.”

Mishriff is the highlight of five rides for Egan at Meydan, with the jockey having picked up a fine spare aboard Joseph O’Brien’s Prix de la Foret third Speak In Colours in the Al Quoz Sprint.

Egan added: “I’m a lucky lad, I’ve got some good rides and hopefully they can all run a good race.”

Mishriff to step up for Sheema Classic challenge

Mishriff is to move up to a mile and a half for the first time in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan this month.

Winner of the world’s most valuable race, the Saudi Cup, on dirt last month, Mishriff will be reverting back to turf for the $6million prize.

It had been thought if Mishriff did return to the Middle East it would be for the Dubai World Cup on the same card, but connections have opted for the longer race rather than sticking to a mile and a quarter.

The John Gosden-trained colt is reported to have taken his trip to Saudi Arabia very well, and it is all systems go for the Sheema Classic on March 27.

“John always had in the back of his mind trying him over a mile and a half at the end of this year,” said owner Prince Faisal’s racing manager Ted Voute.

“I think the opportunity presented itself. He asked the Prince to consider running him, and the Prince basically left it up to John.

“It’s exciting and something to look forward at the end of the month.

“John has won that race a couple of times, and he’s obviously pretty good at getting a horse ready for it.”

What happens there could influence Mishriff’s plans for the rest of the year.

“He hasn’t got many races to go for before Royal Ascot. John thought he can have quite a big breather after this race,” Voute added.

“We might change some of the races we go for, depending on the outcome of Dubai.”

Mishriff camp eye Juddmonte International as long-term target

The Juddmonte International at York in August is likely to be a prime target for Mishriff following his exciting victory in the Saudi Cup.

Owner Prince Faisal has personal reasons to target the Group One over an extended 10 furlongs on the Knavesmire with the John Gosden-trained colt.

There is a family connection because he was related to the founder of Juddmonte Farms, Khalid Abdullah, who died last month – and of course the race has a tremendous worldwide reputation.

“I think the Prince, for many reasons, has his eye on the Juddmonte,” said the owner’s racing manager Ted Voute.

“With winning the Juddmonte, you tend to be the highest-rated horse in the world – or thereabouts.

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“I think he is keen to prove he is as good a horse as there is – and he was related to Prince Khalid.

“He’s got no interest in selling him at the moment. He wants to enjoy the racing. Ultimately he’ll go to stud.

“John Gosden and the Prince will talk about plans.”

The top races over a mile and a quarter and maybe a mile and a half will come under discussion after Mishriff showed his versatility on Saturday by beating two of the best American dirt horses in Charlatan and Knicks Go to claim the world’s richest race.

The Dubai World Cup, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the Breeders’ Cup Classic are also certain to come into the conversation between trainer and the owner-breeder.

“At this stage, I don’t think he’ll race until Royal Ascot if he goes there,” added Voute.

“The Dubai World Cup is only a few weeks away. He’s in it, he’ll be invited – and we’ve got to have that discussion.

“The Prince is keen to add a domestic Group One. He won in France (Prix du Jockey Club) – and if we are going to make him attractive as a stallion you need to add a domestic Group One to the CV. I would suggest the Juddmonte would be it.

“He is building a very interesting CV. There aren’t many horses who can win a French Derby and then a race on dirt over a furlong shorter.

“He did not go for the Arc last year, because the Prince wanted to see the horse run on his home turf as he hadn’t seen him for a year, and that has come out very successfully.

“What could be up for discussion is the Arc if the horse is sound and well. You could consider the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“The Prince raced the sire (Make Believe), and Mishriff is the fourth generation, so it meant a lot to him.”

Monday Musings: Saudi Success for Mishriff

In the latter half of last week’s missive I took you back to June 1989, writes Tony Stafford. Today I’m going another year, all but two days, and the eve of day one of Royal Ascot. The feature and only Group 1 event of the day, and in those days carrying more than double the prizemoney of the Group 2 Queen Anne and Prince of Wales’s Stakes on that afternoon, was the St James’s Palace Stakes.

I’d gone on the Monday evening down to Holland Park Road in leafy West London with trainer Geoff Huffer and I remember there was much discussion about whether Persian Heights, whom Geoff trained for Prince Yazid Saud (son of King Saud, the Ruler of Saudi Arabia in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s) should take his place in the field.

Until checking back I’d forgotten the reason for what was in effect a summit meeting as it entailed something of a gamble. Persian Heights had made his seasonal reappearance as recently as the previous Wednesday at Newbury, when he won a conditions race by an easy four lengths.

Obviously it was going to be a risk and I’m not quite sure why I was there, but there I was. Also in the house that evening was Tony Nerses, nowadays the brains behind Kuwaiti Imad Al Sagar’s bloodstock interests, but in those days the secretary for Prince Yazid.

Mr Sagar, with his then partner Saleh Al Homaizi, also a Kuwaiti, won the 2007 Derby with Authorized, trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam; and that victory has provided Tony with a great advertising vehicle. Whenever his boss has a non-home-bred winner, it’s always accompanied with “purchase Authorized by Tony Nerses”.

At some time later that evening, mid-discussion, Geoff and I crossed the road to another of the grand houses in that select enclave – God knows what they would be worth now!  I did look, you wouldn’t want to know!

There we met one of Prince Yazid’s fellow Saudi Arabian Royal family members, Prince Abdul Rahman Abdullah Faisal, and blow me down when on Saturday night his horse Mishriff, trained by John Gosden and ridden by 21-year-old David Egan, exceeded all previous expectations by winning the world’s most valuable race, the Saudi Cup, from the American-trained second favourite Charlatan, in turn ridden by one of the world’s most celebrated and successful jockeys, Mike Smith.

I’m delighted for the Prince who goes sometimes as Prince A A Faisal but more often as plain – well not so plain, just look at the Garrards of London-made all-gold trophy that’s almost as tall as its recipient – Prince Faisal. At home he needs the initials, there’s a bit of competition for that first name among the family.

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They were all friends and indeed relatives with the late Prince Ahmed bin Salman (late son of the present King Salman) of Thoroughbred Corporation fame. He won the 1999 Derby with Oath, four Triple Crown races in two successive years without managing to get all three together as well as umpteen other major races around the world.

Even before 1988, when they were very young men, Yazid and Ahmed were partners together in several good horses, often high-class sprinters trained by Bill O’Gorman running precisely in those two first names.

Well to cut a circuitous route slightly shorter, the decision was made. Persian Heights ran and won comfortably and, while never really graduating any further in his own career, he did leave an indelible mark on the thoroughbred breeding world by being the sire of the great stayer Persian Punch.

Winner of 20 of his 63 career starts for trainer David Elsworth and owner Jeff Smith, only four times did he step below stakes class and he won on all those four occasions. Sixteen stakes wins is right up there and I know from experience that Mr Elsworth never likes to worry about winning a small race when a tilt at a much bigger target is in his sights.

I bought Prince Yazid a few horses after my own first trip to Saudi Arabia in the late 1990’s to race in France where he was based at that time and I later lost touch. I know on returning home, he was in charge of arrangements for the Hajj where Muslim  pilgrims travel to the Holy City of Mecca, a journey they are required to make at least once in their lives.

Prince Faisal meanwhile was breeding some top-class horses to run in his purple, grey epaulettes colours from his prolific broodmare Rafha, winner of the 1990 Prix de Diane for Henry Cecil. The best was easily Invincible Spirit, a sprint-bred son of Green Desert who won seven of 17 starts for John Dunlop but turned into a phenomenal stallion for the Irish National Stud.

Initially standing at a cost of €10k, as his accomplishments increased so did his fee and, at its height from 2016-9, he commanded an investment of €120,000. Down to €100k last year it has taken another little trim to €80k, but his shareholders who took the initial risk won’t be complaining. After all that’s not bad for a 24-year-old!

Kodiac, his half-brother by top Classic sire Danehill, didn’t measure up as a racehorse. I met the Prince at Newmarket on a July Saturday in 2003 and we had a cup of tea together before his colt’s juvenile debut. He was optimistic before the race and was happy afterwards about his third place finish.

Four wins came from his 24 career starts, none in stakes, but Tony O’Callaghan, the shrewd boss of Tally Ho Stud, bought him and quickly turned him into the world’s most consistent and prolific sire of two-year-olds. His fee, originally €5,000, has been at a high of €65,000 for the last three breeding seasons and the now 20-year-old shows no sign of slowing down as neither does Tony.

It was remarkable that the Prince was so astute to secure the services of the then 20-year-old David Egan as early as he did in his career. Egan travelled to Riyadh for the meeting last year when Mishriff, on his three-year-old debut, finished second in the inaugural Saudi Derby.

Mishriff then returned to Europe and won a Listed race at Newmarket under Egan, but wins in the French Derby and a Group 2 at Deauville were unavailable to the jockey with the Covid travel ban in place. Ioritz Mendizabal and then Frankie Dettori were the happy recipients of Egan’s misfortune. He ran his only disappointing race, again with Dettori in the saddle, when unplaced behind Addeybb at the Champions meeting at Ascot in October on what Gosden has described as the worst ground at any UK meeting he can recall.

Saturday’s victory, on his first run since – this time Dettori was on an unplaced stable-companion – carried the astronomic winner’s prize of £7.29 million, so a nice windfall in percentage terms for Mr Gosden – whose handling of this home-bred colt has been masterful – and Egan. His opportunistic and unflustered riding has to be taken in the context of the opposition and importance of the day. How proud his father John, in the crowd and still a potent jockey in his 50’s, must have been.

Mr Sagar was in Riyadh for the weekend as was Hollie Doyle principally to ride his gelding Extra Elusive – who seemed not to enjoy the dirt surface – in the big race. To show in just how high regard she is held, she got the ride on the Willie Mullins-trained eight-year-old mare True Self in a ten and a half furlong turf race and they won comfortably. Hollie’s share of the £439k first prize will keep partner Tom Marquand happy down in Sydney while he waits out his quarantine.

While the top two were from the upper end of racing’s hierarchy – the runner-up was a $700,000 dollar buy and ran for Bob Baffert - the third horse home has a much more proletarian heritage.

The five-year-old Great Scot was originally prepared for sale by Rachael and Richard Kempster of Kinsale Farm near Oswestry, Shropshire, and was led out unsold as a yearling for 2,500gns at the mixed Ascot sale. The Kempsters also got a less than brilliant result at the same venue when offering some disappointing Raymond Tooth horses also raised on their farm.

Unlike them Great Scot went on to race for a syndicate of owners – the Empire States Partnership and was originally trained by Tom Dascombe. Seeing the names involved at the time of that yearling sale, I suspect some footballers possibly associated with Michael Owen, who owns Dascombe’s stables, might have been involved.

He won four of 11 races, getting up to a rating of 111, so I expect they got a nice windfall when passing him on. Next time he appeared it was in last year’s Saudi Cup where he finished only 12th of 14 at 100/1 running off the boat as it were.

The latter part of last year was much more fruitful  with wins by 12 lengths and then three lengths before a four-length success in a £78k Listed race last month.

Intriguingly – I hinted there was a Prince Faisal or two – Great Scot is owned by Prince Faisal Bin Khalid (so son of a previous King) and trained by Abdullah Mushrif. Confused? You will be. When the Empire State Partnership people realise that yesterday’s run, still at 66-1 despite the three spectacular wins, earned this Prince £1,459,000 they will no doubt take a moment from watching the football on telly. As for the Kempsters, who run a very nice efficient farm where Punjabi has spent his retirement, they can congratulate themselves for their part in the story.

On the domestic front, Saturday also featured the reincarnation of Goshen, incidentally a son of Authorized, in Wincanton’s Kingwell Hurdle. Beaten three times since his last-flight fall in the 2020 Triumph Hurdle and in those defeats, showing little sign that he was still a smart performer, he slaughtered his field by 22 lengths, surely ending Song For Someone’s Champion Hurdle hopes.

More interestingly, as the ground dries out will the connections of Honeysuckle, so impressive last weekend at Leopardstown, start to think that maybe the mares’ race over an extra half mile will provide less of a gamble. Faster ground and two miles suits Goshen and almost certainly Epatante. Decisions, decisions!

Mishriff upsets Charlatan to land Saudi Cup glory for Gosden and Egan

Mishriff powered home to wear down American ace Charlatan and land the world’s most valuable race, the $20million Saudi Cup in Riyadh.

The John Gosden-trained colt, owned by Prince Faisal, made his stamina tell over the nine furlongs after the two US heavyweights, Charlatan and Knicks Go, had gone head to head in the early stages.

David Egan was able to stay on their heels as the star pair turned for home.

Knicks Go dropped away, leaving Mishriff to gradually reduce Charlatan’s lead and get up in the closing stages. Great Scot finished third.

Gosden said from his Newmarket base: “It was a wonderful performance. He showed a lot of grit and courage, and he was able to go the pace of the American horses. It was great.”

Now proven on dirt as well as turf, having won the French Derby last year, Mishriff would appear to have all the world’s biggest races open to him.

But Gosden was keen not to be drawn on future plans, adding: “One race at a time.”

The champion trainer was also quick to pay tribute to his team behind the horse and his preparation.

He said: “What a brave horse, thank you to Prince Faisal and the whole team. It’s down to them and a brave horse, in what was a truly-run race and certainly he had to have a lot of courage never mind ability.

“His owner-breeder Prince Faisal always wanted to come back for the Saudi Cup (after finishing second in the Saudi Derby last year) and the horse had a perfect year bar getting stuck in a bottomless bog at Ascot (in the Champion Stakes), which was really specialist ground. Otherwise he has a superb record.

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David Egan tries to take in Saudi Cup success
David Egan tries to take in Saudi Cup success (Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Mahmoud Khaled)

“The team here at Clarehaven have done a great job with him – it’s not easy to get a horse ready in the winter, with the snow and the ice.

“Any time you take on Bob Baffert with a horse of that class (Charlatan) you are pleased if you can get there, so full marks to my team.”

Reflecting on the race, Gosden said: “You do need to break well and get a decent position, David rode a positive race and in the end basically outstayed the American horses. It wasn’t a crazy pace, I was impressed the two American jockeys were containing their horses. You have a world-record miler there (Charlatan) and Brad Cox’s horse (Knicks Go) and they kept the rhythm right.

“There are very few horses who can switch surfaces like that, but I’ve always been told by the top American jockeys and Frankie Dettori that this is the best main dirt track in the world. I think that’s very much proven today – that a turf horse can actually switch to it and put in a big performance. This is a superb track.

“I think he will stay (further), in the end he nailed them because he could go the pace and then just see it out to the end – and that’s a hard-run mile and a furlong.

“I’ll see, we’ll all make decisions together as to how he is and what plans, and discuss it all with Prince Faisal. Take it a step at a time. After a flight like that and training in the winter, we’ll how the horse is for the next 10 days, two weeks when we get back before we start making any grand plans.”

Circumstances meant Egan missed out on Mishriff’s last three races last year, including his victory in the French Derby, where Dettori was in the saddle. However, as Prince Faisal’s retained rider he was back in the plate.

Egan, 21, said: “I can’t believe it. He’s an absolute champion. It’s unbelievable.

“It wasn’t meant to be (not being able to ride in French Derby). That’s racing. It was during the coronavirus pandemic as we all are now.

“I’d like to thank Saudi Cup for putting on such a great event in these tough times and making everything as Covid safe as we could be.

“I’m just delighted to get back on board Mishriff and win it for all the team.”

It’s only when you go past the line you realise what a big deal it is

He went on: “Last year he was a horse that jumped slow. He chased down the Japanese horse in the Saudi Derby and finished second. I always thought if he jumped on terms I would have nearly won last year.

“He has matured through the year and Mr Gosden had him primed for today. He’s been training well on the track. He seems to enjoy the track here. He’s very relaxed in the mornings.

“He jumped as well as he’s ever done. I squeezed him along for the first 50 yards and I was surprised how well he was going down the back straight. I was on Mike Smith’s (riding Charlatan) heels.

“The only worrying sign I got was when they started quickening, but once we got into the straight I knew I was going to mow them down. Thankfully the line came in time for us.

“Ever since he was second here last year I’m sure it was on Mr Gosden and Prince Faisal’s mind to come back here. With this race in Prince Faisal’s back garden, it was a no-brainer. He’s taken on some top-class horses from all round the world and he’s proved how good a horse he is and how much he has matured mentally and physically.

“With the amount of prize-money on offer it’s a huge deal, but going into the race I didn’t feel any pressure. It was just like going into any normal race.

“It’s only when you go past the line you realise what a big deal it is.”

Egan dedicated the triumph to his father John, also a jockey, who was on hand to witness the success.

“It’s so special dad being here,” he said.

“If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be the rider or the person I am today. He’s done everything he can to hep me in my career, pushed me and trained me hard and this one’s for him.”

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.”

Gosden seeking high draw for Mishriff’s Saudi Cup challenge

John Gosden is hoping Mishriff will get a wide draw to help his chances in the Saudi Cup in Riyadh next month.

The son of Make Believe took to the dirt surface well when runner-up in the Saudi Derby over a mile last February from stall 12 of 13.

“He worked nicely going into it, but first time on the dirt, you never know. He did have the benefit of a wide draw last year and we were thrilled the way he ran,” said Gosden.

Mishriff, owned and bred by Prince Faisal, built on that run by winning his next three races, including the French Derby when stepped up to a mile and a quarter.

“I think he’s a mile-and-a-quarter horse, very much so,” Gosden told a Saudi Cup press conference.

“He’s got a great stride, great tactical speed and a powerful finish. I think that is his perfect trip. Whether we stretch him out to a mile and a half one day, I don’t know.”

Gosden feels the nine-furlong one-bend showpiece will be run at an American pace, especially with Knicks Go and Charlatan likely to be in the line-up.

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“This race is run on the dirt and at a very different tempo. You need a wide draw,” he said.

“If it was a mile and quarter it would suit us a lot better, but it’s very fast. The Americans go hard and it’s not a race with any hiding places.

“He’s had a nice down time building up to this. He’s a genuine horse, he enjoys his training.

“He’s not a horse who requires a massive amount of work, so to that extent he’s the right type to get ready early in the year.”

David Egan is set to be reunited with Mishriff in the Saudi Cup
David Egan is set to be reunited with Mishriff in the Saudi Cup (Joe Giddens/PA)

David Egan, Prince Faisal’s retained jockey, will take the ride, having missed Mishriff’s last three races in 2020.

“He hadn’t have a great run of it, when he wanted to ride he was either suspended or he was stuck with all the quarantining,” said Gosden.

Frankie Dettori rides Global Giant for the Newmarket handler in the Middle Distance Turf Cup.

The combination went down by a neck in the valuable Bahrain International Trophy in November.

“He came back in great order and breezed nicely this (Wednesday) morning,” Gosden went on.

Global Giant and Frankie Dettori team up in the Middle Distance Turf Cup
Global Giant and Frankie Dettori team up in the Middle Distance Turf Cup (Steven Cargill/PA)

“The horse was as frustrated as the jockey and the owner and the trainer, but he got too far back and got there too late. The wire came up a stride and a half too soon, but that’s racing.

“He’s fine, he’s going for the Middle Distance. It will be a tough race. Distance-wise it’s probably the top end of his range.

“He’s got a very good chance and he’s in good form right now.”

Gosden goes for the Saudi Derby this year with New Treasure, a 90,000 guineas purchase at the Sales in November out of Jim Bolger’s stables in Ireland.

The former Jim Bolger-trained New Treasure runs for the John Gosden stable in the Saudi Derby
The former Jim Bolger-trained New Treasure runs for the John Gosden stable in the Saudi Derby (PA)

“He was in the horses-in-training sale and Jim was selling, so you have to have a sense of reality about that. He didn’t go for a great deal of money,” said Gosden.

“The horse came here and the owners wanted to aim him at this race.

“He won a Group Three (Round Tower Stakes) over six furlongs on soft ground. He’s not run over a mile before, but we’re hopeful he’ll get it.

“He’s on a one-way ticket. He races and stays there to race with the local horses.

“He’s very genuine and is a giver. He’s a fun horse to run in the race and it a great way of going down there – a Group Three winner and going for the Saudi Derby.”

Mishriff to take Saudi Cup challenge

Mishriff is being prepared for the $20million Saudi Cup in Riyadh next month.

The four-year-old has previous experience of the dirt course there, having finished second in the Saudi Derby last winter before going on to lift the French Derby at Chantilly in July after winning the Newmarket Stakes.

The John Gosden-trained colt completed a hat-trick in the Prix Guillaume D’Ornano at Deauville in August and was last seen in the Champion Stakes at Ascot on his only subsequent start.

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Ted Voute, racing manager to owner Prince Faisal, said: “John’s preparing him for the race. The Prince and him discussed it in late December and the Prince lives in Riyadh.

“It’s on a dirt track which he handled last year when he came second. We’re going back a furlong, but we hope it won’t inconvenience him.

“It’s something to look forward to. There’s not a lot for him at home until probably June. Last year he went out there and (then) won the French Derby which was the same sort of timing. It gives him a few months off after he comes back.”

Voute confirmed that David Egan will be in the saddle.

“He’s in Bahrain at the moment so he’s nice and close,” he added.

“We’ve contacted him already and he says he’ll be delighted to ride him. He’s retained by us, but for one reason or another he didn’t get back on him last year (after Newmarket).”

More than 100 horses from nine countries and a total of 17 Group One winners have been entered for the Saudi Cup.

Among other British entries are Roger Charlton’s Extra Elusive, Saeed bin Suroor’s Military March, the Charlie Hills-trained Tilsit and William Haggas’ Addeybb, winner of the Champion Stakes.

A particularly strong American challenge on a race won last year by Maximum Security includes the Bob Baffert-trained Charlatan and Kenny McPeek’s Preakness Stakes heroine Swiss Skydiver.

Japan’s recently crowned Dirt Horse of the Year, Chuwa Wizard, could also line up having gained an automatic spot when winning the Champions Cup at Chukyo last month.

Gosden bids fond farewell to magnificent Enable

John Gosden and his staff at Clarehaven waved goodbye to Enable for the final time on Thursday, as the great mare left for her new home at Banstead Manor Stud.

It had already been announced the dual Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner will be covered by Kingman, also owned by Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms operation.

The daughter of Nathaniel was retired last week, with connections resisting the temptation for one last hurrah at Ascot or at the Breeders’ Cup after the brilliant mare was bogged down by heavy ground bidding for a third Arc win.

Enable won the King George at Ascot for the third time in July
Enable won the King George at Ascot for the third time in July (Bill Selwyn/PA)

“Enable goes to the stud today, she’s just had a wind down after the Arc and actually it’s very pleasurable as she’s leaving happy and sound, very full of herself and very contented,” Gosden told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.

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“It’s wonderful to have had all that racing at two, three, four, five and six and retire her sound. Mr (Frankie) Dettori was here, popped the silks on and sat on her, like the old pictures we have in the yard.

“The ones you really love are the ones that try, give everything and want to work with you. She was the most fantastic filly for her sheer appetite and joy for training.

“It’s like working with people, when you have someone with a positive mindset it makes it more pleasurable.”

He went on: “Of course, she had an international following so I will probably sleep a little better now she’s gone as the weight of responsibility will be lessened somewhat.

“In a sense there was a bit of relief when the decision was made to retire her. We all know what happened in France, that’s life, there had been talk of Ascot but looking at the ground I’m glad we ruled that one out.

“The other option was to go to Kentucky, she’s won a Breeders’ Cup but Churchill has a longer stretch than Keeneland which suits her style of running, so while she is in great nick, we decided we’re not going to go any more.”

Palace Pier lost his unbeaten record on Champions Day
Palace Pier lost his unbeaten record on Champions Day (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Gosden endured a rare blank on Qipco Champions Day, which in part he put down to the testing conditions, but four of his beaten stars will be back for more next year.

“Palace Pier pulled a shoe off leaving the stalls and was quite sore, he hasn’t been ridden since. He probably did very well to finish third, but he’ll be all right for next year,” said Gosden.

“Mishriff will come back as well, he found the ground too deep. Lord North will hopefully be back and the great Stradivarius will try to win a fourth Gold Cup.”

Gosden also mooted his possible Breeders’ Cup squad.

He said: “At the moment we’re considering Lord North for the Turf, he hated the ground at Ascot. We have Terebellum, who didn’t run at Ascot thank goodness, she could go for the Filly & Mare and we’re also looking at that for Mehdaayih, who actually ricked her back in the Prince of Wales’s so has only had one run since.”

Egan all set for Mishriff’s Champion Stakes bid

David Egan is looking forward to renewing his partnership with Mishriff in next month’s Qipco Champion Stakes – after missing the colt’s two big wins in France this year.

Egan, 21, had to sit out the French Derby because of travel restrictions brought on by Covid-19, and then picked up an untimely suspension before John Gosden’s colt followed up in the Prix Guillaume D’Ornano at Deauville.

The Champion Stakes is the highlight of what will be the 10th Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot, and Egan is just thrilled to be involved as he seeks a first Group One.

“I’m retained by Prince Faisal (owner), and so I want his horses to do as well as they can, whether I’m the one riding them or not,” he said, reflecting on Mishriff’s French adventures without him.

“I was over the moon watching Mishriff win the French Derby, thinking I’d be able to ride him next time, and then it was just unfortunate I couldn’t get back on him at Deauville. But I’ve had some good days on him, and hopefully there will be many more.”

Mishriff has been one of the emerging stars of this season
Mishriff has been one of the emerging stars of this season (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Egan was the third jockey to ride Mishriff in public, but the first to do so to victory.

He added: “I rode Mishriff for the first time when he won by 10 lengths at Nottingham last year, and then I was on him again when he was a good second in the Saudi Derby – when he made up a lot of ground in the straight after being a bit slow out of the gates.

“When we went to Newmarket in June most people seemed to be expecting his stable-mate Waldkonig to win, but Mishriff showed he was still improving by winning really well.

“He’s gone on improving since, and it’s been great to see. It’s a privilege to ride him.

“He’s so straightforward and he really tries for you. He’s got a very low head carriage and he just eats up the ground. He’s gone on good going, he’s gone on bottomless ground and he’s gone on dirt, so he’s very genuine and versatile.”

Mishriff team looking forward to Ascot date

Mishriff is reported to be in tip-top shape ahead of the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot next month.

Connections decided not to entertain thoughts of supplementing the French Derby hero for the Qatar Pix de l’Arc de Triomphe and stick to a mile and a quarter for the Group One on October 17.

Mishriff has thrived since making a triumphant return to France for the Group Two Prix Guillaume D’Ornano at Deauville and has won all his three starts this term.

“He’s bouncing, he’s going well and he’s waiting for his date at Ascot,” said Ted Voute, racing manager to owner Prince Faisal.

“John (Gosden) and the Prince made a decision and that’s where we’re going. We’ve just got to find out what we’re racing against.

“It will be exciting. It will be nice to compete in another race in England and see what he’s made of.

“At the moment he’s showing a nice turn of foot which they are not always blessed with. Let’s hope he can keep doing that when it’s needed.”

Prince Faisal has a promising two-year-old, by Mishriff’s sire Make Believe, in Third Kingdom, who was third to subsequent Solario Stakes scorer Etonian at Sandown on the latest of his two starts.

The colt could be back action again shortly after missing an intended outing at Chelmsford recently.

“He was down to go to Chelmsford the other day and just had a bit of heat in a joint and they elected not to go,” said Voute.

“It has since been looked at and is nothing serious. He should be out soon.

“The form of that second race of his has come out quite nicely so it was a shame he couldn’t go to Chelmsford as it looked like his for the taking but we’re waiting for John to give him an entry and see how good he is.

“Let’s hope he can win on his third start and we can look forward to a good 2021.”