Mishriff team set out Saudi Cup target

Mishriff is set to defend his Saudi Cup title after connections ruled out a Breeders’ Cup challenge.

The four-year-old had been under consideration for the Turf at Del Mar on November 6 after a fine campaign that saw him win in Riyadh in February, before adding further Group One glory in the Dubai Sheema Classic and the Juddmonte International at York.

Mishriff also placed in the Eclipse and King George for trainers John and Thady Gosden, but could finish only fourth when favourite for the Champion Stakes at Ascot last week.

The Prince Faisal-owned colt is now set to stay in training in 2022, with a Riyadh return uppermost in connections’ minds.

The owner’s racing manager Ted Voute said: “The Prince has said that unless a huge offer comes in for him to go to stud – and I think the likelihood of that is pretty slim at this stage of the year with all the marketing that’s required – then he will be back next year.

“In fairness to John, up until he won the Juddmonte, he was always of the opinion that Del Mar might be a bit sharp for a big horse like him.

“He thinks we should follow the same route as last year by freshening him up after the Champion before heading back to the Saudi Cup – that’s the target.

“Although he’s had a bit of time between his races this season, he has been on the go since February.

“John said we’ll aim for the same races in Europe again, although whether he ends up in the Champion Stakes or the Arc, we’ll have to see.”

Mishriff set to miss Breeders’ Cup

Mishriff looks set to sidestep a trip to the Breeders’ Cup in California next month after trainer John Gosden said his stable star was in need of “a little bit of a rest”.

Last season’s French Derby winner has enjoyed a memorable campaign in 2021, which began with a huge international double as he won the Saudi Cup on dirt and the Dubai Sheema Classic on turf.

Having secured his first Group One on British soil in the Juddmonte International in August, the four-year-old was a hot favourite for last weekend’s Champion Stakes at Ascot.

But Mishriff could only finish fourth on Champions Day – and while both the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Breeders’ Cup Turf were raised as options earlier this week, he is set for a well-earned break.

“You need to be 100 percent happy that you’re doing the right thing,” Gosden told Daily Racing Form.

“He’s been a pretty busy boy.”

Mishriff still in the mix for Breeders’ Cup

A trip to the Breeders’ Cup remains on the table for Mishriff despite his defeat in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.

John and Thady Gosden’s charge has enjoyed a memorable campaign, winning the Saudi Cup on dirt and the Sheema Classic on turf before securing his first Group One in Britain in the Juddmonte International.

He was a hot favourite to bag another major prize on Champions Day – but while he managed to finish in front of his King George conqueror Adayar on Saturday, he could manage only fourth behind French raider Sealiway.

Ted Voute, racing manager for Mishriff’s owner Prince Faisal, said: “It was slightly disappointing. We beat the Derby winner, but we got swallowed up by horses who enjoyed the going a bit better than us.

“They had a bit of rain in the morning – and with both John and the jockey (David Egan), the first thing out of their mouths was that he wasn’t going on the ground. You have to bow to their experience.”

Mishriff appears most likely to run on the grass in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar next month, although Voute suggests a return to the dirt for the Breeders’ Cup Classic could also be worth considering.

Connections of Mishriff at York
Connections of Mishriff at York (Nigel French/PA)

He added: “John wants everything to be right for us to go, but that (Breeders’ Cup) is his next target.

“It was spoken about on Sunday, and the early indications were that he came out of the race okay. At the moment we’ve all been told to act as if we’re going, and the horse will let us know whether he’s ready.

“John and the Prince will decide where to go. I suspect they’ll go to the Turf – although just glancing through the Classic, I’d be happy to consider that race as well.

“It’s up the Prince and John really – and it’s down to Mishriff and his wellbeing.

“All the boxes have got to be ticked, and I’m sure John and the Prince will make the right decision.”

Mishriff poised for eagerly-awaited rematch with Adayar

Mishriff bids to crown an already memorable campaign with victory in what promises to be a thrilling renewal of the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.

Last year’s French Derby winner has taken his game to another level this season, which began with a lucrative international double as he landed the Saudi Cup in Riyadh and the Sheema Classic in Dubai.

Following a well-earned break, the John and Thady Gosden-trained colt returned with a third-placed finish in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown in early July before finding Derby hero Adayar too strong in the King George at Ascot, giving away 11lb over a mile and a half.

The four-year-old got back on the winning trail when securing his first top-level prize on home soil in the Juddmonte International at York in August – and connections are hoping the decision to keep their powder dry for the Champion Stakes, rather than contesting the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe a fortnight ago, will be vindicated on Saturday.

Ted Voute, racing manager for Mishriff’s owner Prince Faisal, said: “It’s obviously a very good race, but he’s still favourite and we’re very much looking forward to it.

“We’ve got ground that is better than it was for the Arc, which is good. It looks like there’s very little rain forecast, so I think the going will be to his liking.

“I talked to John on Tuesday after Mishriff had done his final pipe-opener and he said it was very pleasing, so fingers crossed.”

Voute is under no illusions about the task facing Mishriff, with the son of Make Believe not only renewing rivalry with Arc fourth Adayar, but taking on last year’s Champion Stakes winner Addeybb, as well as the latter’s two stablemates Dubai Honour and Al Aasy.

“The Prince has always been happy to take on other good horses as that’s part of the game – to try to be the best. We’re excited,” Voute added.

Adayar was too strong over a mile and a half for Mishriff in the King George
Adayar was too strong over a mile and a half for Mishriff in the King George (Nigel French/PA)

Mishriff’s weight concession to Adayar is now just 4lb – and over 10 furlongs, a trip at which Adayar is unproven.

But Charlie Appleby is happy with his Epsom hero, reporting he came out of his Paris exertions in good shape, despite the very testing ground – convincing connections to take their chance.

The Frankel colt went through his paces on Wednesday, and was given the green light afterwards.

Appleby told the Godolphin website: “All the signs after the Arc were positive. They went steady for the first half of the race, which is why William (Buick) allowed him to take it up. They really only raced for the last mile. He has been beaten just under four lengths after kicking for home at the top of the straight.

“We have run all the usual veterinary checks on him this week, and he’s in great shape. I’m very happy with him going into Saturday,” he added.

Tom Marquand celebrates after winning last year's Champion Stakes on Addeybb
Tom Marquand celebrates after winning last year’s Champion Stakes on Addeybb (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

William Haggas acknowledges conditions might not be quite as testing as Addeybb would like ahead of the defence of his crown.

He said: “He needs it the softer the better. His ideal is passing an inspection on the morning of the race! He sloshes through that and he’s very effective in soft ground, or heavy ground.

“This is going to be soft, (but) I’m not sure it’s going to be soft enough for him, especially drying, gluey ground, but he stays well and his record right-handed is fantastic.

“He’s been a fantastic horse for us and I won’t have a bad word said about him.”

Dubai Honour, so impressive when winning the Prix Dollar in Paris two weeks ago, was supplemented at a cost of £75,000 on Monday.

Haggas is looking forward to testing his powers at the highest level, saying: “He only won a handicap at the July meeting (at Newmarket) and then went for the Guillaume d’Ornano, which is a four hundred grand Group Two. They went really hard, he came from the back and won easily.

“In the Dollar they went really slow and he was in the back of the field. James (Doyle) said that he showed a very, very smart turn of foot and he was well on top at the finish.

“Now there’s nothing really for him here, there’s a race in Bahrain for a half a million pounds and there’s obviously the race in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Cup – which is very valuable.

“That’s not until December, the horse seems really well so I put the suggestion to the owner that we might supplement him and he nearly bit my hand off and said ‘if you would like to do that we’d be delighted’, so here we are.”

Al Aasy looked destined for the big time after winning successive Group Threes at Newbury in the spring, but narrow defeats on his next two starts in the Coronation Cup and the Princess of Wales’s Stakes led to him being gelded.

The son of Sea The Stars could finish only fourth on his first appearance since at Newbury last month, but Haggas feels it would be dangerous to leave him out of calculations.

He added: “We all know that he doesn’t find as much under pressure as he looks like he might, (but) I would hope that his jockey will wait a bit. He’ll travel strongly and we’ll see what he has to offer.

“He may not be good enough, but he’s a talented horse and he’s no mug in a race of this quality.

“He’s been rubbished by everyone, so I’d love to see him run a good race.”

Addeybb heads 14 contenders for Champion Stakes glory

Last year’s winner Addeybb, Derby and King George hero Adayar and the brilliant Mishriff are among 14 confirmations for the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

The William Haggas-trained Addeybb bagged his first Group One victory on home soil in the Champions Day feature 12 months ago, but has made just three appearances since.

The seven-year-old returned to Australia to defend both the Ranvet Stakes at Rosehill and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Randwick, having to make do with the runner-up spot in the former event but successfully defending his QEII crown.

Addeybb made a promising return from a break when splitting St Mark’s Basilica and Mishriff in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown in early July, but has missed multiple engagements since due to unsuitable ground conditions.

Tom Marquand will be on board and told Sky Sports Racing: “Whether the ground will be quite in his favour – I can’t see how it will dry out too much at this time of year as the dew in the morning keeps the moisture in.

“I was informed the other day he galloped very well, but I don’t get near him too often at home as he’s not usually the best work horse and William likes me to keep my confidence in him by riding him in races instead!

“It sounds like he’s in great form and everyone is happy. There are no chinks in his armour, he’s danced every dance and been to the other side of the world a couple of times and proved himself here in the Champion last year.”

Haggas, who will be praying for as much as rain as possible ahead of his bid for back-to-back Champion Stakes triumphs this weekend, reports Addeybb to be in “as good a shape as we could possibly have him.”

He said: “We are very pleased with Addeybb’s condition. We’d like rain for him, and the more the better, but it doesn’t look as if we are going to get it. I’d be surprised if it was quick ground though, as it was so wet there at the last meeting, and he’ll run.

“I’d have loved him to have had a run, as it’s a top, top race, but he goes well fresh and he can win off a lay-off. His last two weeks have been really good.”

The Somerville Lodge handler looks set to launch a three-pronged assault, with Al Aasy and the supplemented Dubai Honour also in the mix.

Connections of Dubai Honour have stumped up the required £75,000 to add him to the field off the back of his impressive display in the Prix Dollar at ParisLongchamp on Arc weekend.

Dubai Honour after winning the Prix Dollar
Dubai Honour after winning the Prix Dollar (PA)

“Dubai Honour is a nice young horse who has won two Group Twos. He’s doing very well physically and he’s a pretty useful horse,” Haggas added.

“This will be a big rise in class for him, but we’ve got nothing to lose. I’m running Al Aasy too, and he’s not without hope, dropping back in trip. Everyone questions him bar me, but he’s a very, very talented horse.”

Charlie Appleby confirmed over the weekend that Adayar would be left in the Champion Stakes at the confirmation stage, with a final decision on his participation to be made later in the week.

If the three-year-old does take his chance, he will be turning out just 13 days after finishing fourth in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Adayar remains in contention for the Champion Stakes
Adayar remains in contention for the Champion Stakes (Nigel French/PA)

The marginal favourite with most bookmakers is John and Thady Gosden’s Mishriff, who has been saved for this race since his dominant display in the Juddmonte International at York in August.

The Saudi Cup and Dubai Sheema Classic winner had previously finished third in the Eclipse and runner-up to Adayar in the King George.

Gosden said: “We’ve been happy with Mishriff since York and we are looking forward to running him again.

“It’s always one race at a time, but we wanted to space his races in case we go on to run later in the year, possibly at the Breeders’ Cup.

“It looks like being a good race and we should get better ground than last year, when he really didn’t like it. He can handle soft, but last year it became specialists’ ground. Full marks to all of the winners that day, but it’s hard to quicken on that stuff.”

Snowfall winning the Yorkshire Oaks
Snowfall winning the Yorkshire Oaks (Nigel French/PA)

Aidan O’Brien has left in Love, Bolshoi Ballet and Snowfall, with Jim Bolger’s Mac Swiney and the Noel Meade-trained Helvic Dream the other Irish contenders.

Cedric Rossi’s Arc fifth Sealiway could represent France.

Euchen Glen (Jim Goldie), Lady Bowthorpe (William Jarvis) and Foxes Tales (Andrew Balding) are the other hopefuls.

‘All options open still’ for mighty Mishriff

Mishriff remains on course for a tantalising top-level schedule on three different continents for the remainder of this year.

John and Thady Gosden’s brilliant, globetrotting star was last seen enhancing his Group One tally with an impressive six-length victory in York’s Juddmonte International.

Connections have spent much of the three weeks since that outstanding performance in discussion about the four-year-old’s next target – with a move back up to 12 furlongs for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the Qipco Champion Stakes over 10 both still in the conversation.

They have yet to come to a conclusion. But Ted Voute, racing manager for owner Prince Faisal, has confirmed next month’s two Group Ones remain on Mishriff’s agenda – as do two November showpieces, the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar and the Japan Cup.

“We haven’t (made any definite decisions),” said Voute.

“The horse is well, and John has the four races for the rest of the year to focus on – the Arc, the Champion (Stakes), the Breeders’ Cup Turf and Japan Cup.”

Voute confirmed it appears feasible to run in three of the four races.

He added: “I think they’re all on the agenda, and the ground will tell us which way we go.

“We probably could only do three of them, timing-wise. But there’s no clear (decision yet) – they are all options still.”

Mishriff embellishes glittering CV with emphatic York display

John Gosden hailed Mishriff’s versatility as the four-year-old provided him with a second Juddmonte International in four years on the Knavesmire.

In arguably the premier 10-furlong contest in Europe, Gosden’s Roaring Lion announced himself as the pre-eminent colt around at York when following up his 2018 Eclipse win, before cementing his status in the Irish Champion and then successfully reverting to a mile in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Ascot’s British Champions Day.

Mishriff did not have as much to prove. But there was one glaring omission on his CV – and that was a Group One on home soil.

Having won the French Derby last year, he had a Classic in the bag – and he then beat the best America had to offer in the Saudi Cup on dirt in February, adding to his overseas record by winning the Sheema Classic in Dubai.

The one box he had left to tick was a showpiece race in England, and defeats in the Eclipse and King George had the naysayers wagging fingers.

While ante-post favourite St Mark’s Basilica was missing, Aidan O’Brien could still field Love; there was Andrew Balding’s multiple Group One winner Alcohol Free stepping up in trip, and William Haggas had two live players in Mohaafeth and Alenquer – but none had an answer to the six-length winner.

“I’m delighted. It’s strange that because of lockdown last year he had this truncated season,” said joint trainer Gosden.

“He won at Newmarket in June, won the French Derby, won at Deauville and then got stuck in a bog at Ascot.

Mishriff and David Egan were impressive winners of the Juddmonte International Stakes at York
Mishriff and David Egan were impressive winners of the Juddmonte International Stakes at York (Nigel French/PA)

“So then we had a holiday and went back to a winter campaign, which was absolutely brilliant – winning in Saudi, where he beat the American dirt horses, and then the Sheema Classic, beating the Japanese mares in Dubai.

“He then had another break before we went for the Eclipse – and while he wasn’t short of work, he was just a bit fresh and heavy, which meant he blew up with a furlong to go, having cruised into contention.

“He ran a blinder last time in the King George. But the mile and a half of Ascot was too great a demand on his stamina up that hill – and it was a very good race. The Derby winner was getting 11lb.

“But he’s come here today, over a mile and a quarter on good ground – that’s his game. He’s versatile, but this is probably his best distance – and arguably perfect ground on the Knavesmire is right up his street.”

All the top races over 10 furlongs and a mile and a half worldwide are in the mix for Mishriff – but not the Irish Champion Stakes, which Gosden feels would hamper his preparation for autumn targets.

“I want to give him another break now, because there are races deep into the autumn if he’s in good order – namely the Arc or the Champion Stakes – ground dependent as I wouldn’t run him if it was deep,” said Gosden.

“Then you have Del Mar (Breeders’ Cup) over a mile and a half (Turf) and then there’s the Japan Cup – so we’ll be looking in those directions. I don’t want to just keep going; I want to freshen him up.

“The problem with the (Breeders’ Cup) Classic this year at Del Mar is the short straight. I know Del Mar well – it’s virtually the shortest straight in America for a Grade One track.

“If you notice with his racing style he kills them in a long straight – it was the stretch that won it for him in Saudi. He’d like a Belmont stretch, not a Del Mar stretch!”

David Egan gets his hands on the Juddmonte International trophy
David Egan gets his hands on the Juddmonte International trophy (Nigel French/PA)

For David Egan, who briefly lost the ride on Mishriff to Frankie Dettori despite being retained by owner Prince Faisal, this is the highlight of a career admittedly still in its early throes.

“To do what he has done is phenomenal. He’s a horse to be reckoned with now,” said Egan.

“This horse means everything to me. He’s going to make my career, hopefully.

“I’m just so thrilled for the horse to be able to do it on UK soil. He’s proved he can do it elsewhere. Some people had doubts he could do it here. I’ve won the lottery, literally.

“This is my best day at the race track. The money doesn’t matter – it’s all about the horse. Hopefully, there’s more to come.”

Mishriff dazzles with impressive International verdict

Mishriff landed his first domestic Group One triumph with a brilliant performance in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York.

Winner of over £10.5million in prize money, mainly due to his wins in the Saudi Cup and the Dubai Sheema Classic, the John and Thady Gosden-trained four-year-old added another £567,000 to the kitty with a blistering six-length success in the extended 10-furlong showpiece.

Mishriff left the opposition standing in the closing stages under a confident ride by David Egan to execute a long-term plan by connections.

Alenquer was smartly away but Mac Swiney took up the running once the field settled down with Love third and Mishriff just behind.

There was little change in the order until the long straight where Mishriff (9-4 favourite) cruised into contention.

Once let down by Egan, the Prince Faisal-owned colt drew away, scoring impressively from Alenquer. Love was half a length adrift in third.

Mishriff had previously finished third in the Eclipse at Sandown and second in the King George at Ascot, but John Gosden felt the colt had his optimum conditions on the Knavesmire.

Mishriff comes home well clear at York
Mishriff comes home well clear at York (Nigel French/PA)

He said: “His first run back, he’d been freshened since his winter campaign and he was a little full of himself and got tired, blew up if you like, in the last furlong. He ran a great race in the King George, probably stretching his stamina in that race, but it was a lovely race.

“This is his ground, good ground, and I think a mile and a quarter is perfect for him.

“He’s had this strange year where he raced in a truncated season last year, then he raced in the winter and we gave him a holiday, now he’s run in the middle of summer.

“If I’m going to go deep into the autumn, I’ve got to take a pull with him, freshen him again through September, then you could look at either the Arc or the Champion Stakes and then you have races like the Breeders’ Cup and the Japan Cup.

“He’s having to run in sort of segments with holidays in between.”

The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is contested over 12 furlongs, like the King George, but Gosden thinks the ParisLongchamp track presents less of a stamina test.

He said: “It’s an easier mile and a half than Ascot. The stiff uphill from Swinley Bottom caught him out stamina-wise, but I don’t want to see him running in deep, heavy ground.

“I think he’s right up there (with the best I’ve trained). To win over a mile and a furlong on the dirt (in the Saudi Cup) and beat the Americans and then come here and do this, he’s a super horse.

“He won a Sheema Classic against a Japanese champion, he’s phenomenal. He’s versatile, but this is probably his best distance and arguably perfect ground on the Knavesmire, right up his street.”

David Egan with the trophy at York
David Egan with the trophy at York (Nigel French/PA)

Egan said: “I had it in the back of my mind how well he stays a mile and a quarter on a flat track. Getting him in a nice rhythm and relaxed was the key today.

“He did everything perfectly. We were in the exact spot – it couldn’t have gone better. I wasn’t sure how far clear I was at the line. He’s a true champion and he’s only getting better this season.

“I was going so comfortably three out. I had it in my mind I didn’t want to quicken too far out, but he was going so easy he took me to the front.

“To do what he has done is phenomenal. He’s a horse to be reckoned with now.

“This horse means everything to me. He’s going to make my career, hopefully.

“I’m just so thrilled for the horse to be able to do it on UK soil. He’s proved he can do it elsewhere. Some people had doubts he could do it here. I’ve won the lottery, literally.

“This is my best day at the race track. The money doesn’t matter – it’s all about the horse. Hopefully, there’s more to come.”

Alenquer was a distant second
Alenquer was a distant second (Nigel French//PA)

William Haggas was pleased with Alenquer’s effort, but expects his charge to move back up in distance now.

He said: “Alenquer ran a very good race. He stayed on and wants further, but you can’t criticise a run like that in a Group One race.

“He’s a very nice, straightforward three-year-old who should develop into a very nice, straightforward four-year-old I hope.

“I suspect we’ll go back up to a mile and a half, but we’ll talk to the owner and see where we go.

“I don’t know, but I suspect the Arc will be well in the mix.”

Mohaafeth is likely to drop back to a mile now
Mohaafeth is likely to drop back to a mile now (David Davies/PA)

Of fourth-placed Mohaafeth, the trainer added: “I was pleased with him, too. To me, it looked like he didn’t get home.

“It looked like he was going to be second and was weak in the last furlong, so I definitely think we ought to explore dropping him back to a mile. We’ll see.

“I’ve no doubt Mishriff will go for the Champion Stakes, and we’ve got Addeybb who will be on the battlefield for that if the ground is soft.”

Egan respectful of International task for Mishriff despite Basilica absence

David Egan is taking nothing for granted ahead of Mishriff’s bid for further big-race honours in the Juddmonte International, despite the withdrawal of his chief rival St Mark’s Basilica.

Having completed a huge global double with victories in the Saudi Cup and the Dubai Sheema Classic earlier in the year, Mishriff returned from a break to finish third behind St Mark’s Basilica in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown in early July.

A mouthwatering rematch was scheduled to take place in the another Qipco British Champions Series contest at York on Wednesday, but Aidan O’Brien announced on Monday morning that St Mark’s Basilica would miss out after suffering a minor setback.

Reacting to the news on a press call, Egan said: “St Mark’s Basilica has been outstanding this season. It’s unfortunate what’s happened – nobody wants that. We want the best horses going for these big races.

“One horse isn’t going to make a horse race. Even without St Mark’s Basilica, it’s still a very strong field and we have a lot of good opposition to take on.”

In St Mark’s Basilica’s absence, O’Brien will rely on Love in the feature event on the opening day of York’s Ebor Festival.

Mishriff had the dual Classic-winning filly almost two lengths behind him when the pair finished second and third respectively in the King George at Ascot three and half weeks ago, but Egan still has huge respect for last year’s 1000 Guineas and Oaks heroine.

Love winning last year's Yorkshire Oaks
Love winning last year’s Yorkshire Oaks (David Davies/PA)

“Love is a very special filly. Although she did finish third last time, her previous form is not to be overlooked,” Egan continued.

“She was an unbelievable filly at three and looked like a real superstar and I still think she is.

“She was a great winner at Royal Ascot. She possibly underperformed in the King George and we have to give a weight allowance to a filly that’s very, very good, which is not going to be easy.

“We saw with Enable how strong these top-class fillies can be against the colts.

“Love is definitely going to bounce back and give us a good race.”

Further strength in depth is added by a clutch of quality three-year-olds, with Egan particularly interested to see how Andrew Balding’s Coronation Stakes and Sussex Stakes winner Alcohol Free fares on her first start over a mile and a quarter.

He said: “I think the most exciting horse to look at from a spectator’s point of view would be Alcohol Free. She’s stepping up to see if she does stay the trip.

“There were a lot of questions about whether she’d stay the mile, but she went to Royal Ascot and proved she did. The camp there are taking a gamble to see if she stays another two furlongs. It will be exciting to see if she does.”

While wary of the threat posed by several of his rivals, the talented rider has plenty of confidence that Mishriff can provide him with a first Group One success in Europe.

“Everything has gone smoothly – his preparation has been good,” he added.

“I was really pleased with how he progressed from the Eclipse to the King George. I thought the King George run was a fantastic run, finishing behind an absolute monster in Adayar, giving him so much weight.

“We don’t need to give the three-year-olds as much weight in the Juddmonte and I think dropping my lad back to a mile and a quarter will only play to his strengths.

“If Mishriff can improve as much as he did from the Eclipse to the King George, he’s going to be hard to beat.”

Marois conditions set to suit Palace Pier – but Poetic Flare ‘huge threat’

John Gosden is pleased to see the ground drying out in favour of last year’s winner Palace Pier ahead of Sunday’s Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.

While the highest-rated horse in Britain did win on testing ground 12 months ago, his only defeat in a nine-race career to date came when the mud was flying at Ascot on Champions Day.

Palace Pier was forced to miss a clash with 2000 Guineas hero Poetic Flare in the Sussex Stakes, but the two will meet this weekend.

“He had a blood disorder going into Goodwood and it just took a little time to get over it. We’re just finding our way back, he’s worked well in towards the race but you could do without those issues coming in the middle of the season,” Gosden told Sky Sports Racing.

“He won the Jacques le Marois last year, but it will be different conditions this year. It’s dry and warm and it’s a small but elite field.

“Like most horses I think he just wants good ground, they can show their acceleration on good ground and that is absolutely his favourite.”

Although Poetic Flare was beaten by Alcohol Free at Goodwood, he had earlier been extremely impressive in the St James’s Palace Stakes and Gosden is wary of the threat he poses.

“He is a huge threat, obviously, I don’t think he was entirely in love with the ground at Goodwood but he’s a phenomenal horse and has put in such great performances – he’s the top three-year-old colt,” said Gosden.

“It’s a very smart race but so it should be, it’s the top mile race in France.”

Derab, a half-brother to Enable, runs on Saturday
Derab, a half-brother to Enable, runs on Saturday (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

A day earlier Gosden runs Derab in the Prix Guillaume d’Ornano, a half-brother to Enable.

He was unplaced in the French Derby behind St Mark’s Basilica, but Gosden feels he had excuses that day.

“He was drawn on the outside and he got a bad bump. When you are drawn on the outside there it’s a real killer. He ran a very nice race the other day when he was beaten by a pretty exceptional four-year-old (Real World) I thought, in the Listed (race at Newbury),” said Gosden.

“He probably likes it on the easy side of good, but it’s the last big three-year-old only race and we won it last year with Mishriff. It’s a very valuable race.”

Speaking of Mishriff, Gosden said: “The Juddmonte on Wednesday is the plan. We don’t have to give quite as many pounds (to St Mark’s Basilica) this time (as in the Eclipse) and if it’s faster ground and on a flatter track that might help, but that’s taking nothing away from the winner.

“They are the last two Prix du Jockey Club winners. Our fellow will sharpen up for the run as well, he’d wintered earlier, he’d been off a long time.

“Who knows what he’ll do later in the year, we’ll go one step at a time. All things are possible.

“He’s in good order and I’m happy with his work.”

Another Gosden star heading to York is Stradivarius, who was taken out of his Goodwood Cup defence following a deluge of rain.

“Hopefully it doesn’t pour down and York is the plan,” he said.

“We’d longed to run at Goodwood, but there was 60mm of rain and 16 the night before so it was pretty waterlogged.

“We’d run him on ground like that before at Ascot and didn’t want to make the mistake again.

“I think so (the same Stradivarius). He is a seven-year-old full entire and to that extent, you know, life will catch up with all of us eventually.”

Egan looking forward to Juddmonte assignment with Mishriff

David Egan is relishing the prospect of a rematch between Mishriff and St Mark’s Basilica in the Juddmonte International at York on August 18.

Egan was aboard when the pair met in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown in July, where Aidan O’Brien’s French 2000 Guineas and Derby winner came out on top in impressive fashion, with Mishriff edged for second by Addeybb.

St Mark’s Basilica was in receipt of 10lb that day – and the John and Thady Gosden-trained Mishriff again had to concede weight when clashing with Derby hero Adayar in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on his latest run.

Beaten just under two lengths over a mile and a half, Egan was pleased with the run but expects Mishriff to be better suited by returning to 10 furlongs on the Knavesmire, with the three-year-old allowance reduced to 7lb, too.

He said: “I think the plan is the Juddmonte, dropping back to a mile and a quarter should play to his strengths.

“I thought he ran a fantastic race over a stiff mile and a half at Ascot, but probably just got outstayed by a horse giving him 11lb.

“Obviously we probably won’t be taking on the Derby winner in the Juddmonte, but maybe we might take him on again later in the year.

“It’s an exciting feeling, we’ll probably have to take on St Mark’s Basilica. Mishriff was a little bit ring-rusty the first day at Sandown, so it would be nice to have a go at him again.”

Mishriff struck Group One gold over 12 furlongs in the Dubai Sheema Classic earlier in the year, adding his huge haul in the Saudi Cup previously, and Egan hailed the Make Believe colt’s adaptability.

He added: “He’s such a versatile horse. Over the mile and a half you have to ride a bit more of a race on him to make sure he relaxes and settles early because he has got a good turn of foot. He showed that turning into the straight at Ascot, he loomed up on the outside looking like he was going to win the race.

“He’s a very versatile horse with a lot of attributes that a Group One horse like him needs.”

King George could be preferred destination for Mishriff

Connections of Mishriff will consider two options for the return to action of Mishriff, with the Sky Bet York Stakes a possible alternative to the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes – though the Ascot showpiece appears to be the more likely target.

As a dual Group One winner, the John and Thady Gosden-trained Mishriff would have to give a lot of weight to the Group Two opposition on the Knavesmire that could include the highly-regarded three-year-old colt Mohaafeth.

The weight differential is not as much in the King George because of its top-level status.

Mishriff in the paddock before the Eclipse
Mishriff in the paddock before the Eclipse (Nick Robson/PA)

Both races are on Saturday week, which could give Mishriff enough time to recover ahead of another target on the horizon, the Juddmonte International, over York’s extended mile and a quarter on August 18.

Mishriff’s two Group One triumphs have come on foreign soil, in the French Derby and the Dubai Sheema Classic, and connections would love the Make Believe colt to achieve a domestic success at the top level.

He was last seen in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown, finishing third to St Mark’s Basilica.

“He might go to York or he might go to the King George. He’s got to give away a lot more weight at York as he gets a Group One penalty there as well as (giving away) the age allowance. It’s in John’s hands,” said Ted Voute, racing manager to owner Prince Faisal.

“Mishriff came back from the Eclipse and was kicking and bucking. John said was very fresh so he got him back on the gallops.

“After the Eclipse he blew quite a bit. He’s a four-year-old now and that might have put him spot on for a race next Saturday.

“It’s in John’s hands and the Prince is happy to go with whatever he feels.

“We’ll wait and see where he guides us, but I suspect he’ll guide us to the King George. That seems to be the way the vibes are.

“There’s only one horse, Twice Over, who has one the Group Two at York and then the Juddmonte at York. There is a Group One at Munich, but we’d have to supplement him.

“That was in the middle of the Eclipse and the Juddmonte, but we are keen to get a domestic Group One. That would be the icing on the cake.”

Monday Musings: St Mark My Words!

The sports pages yesterday were dominated by a certain football match in Rome and, much earlier on Saturday, the 18-year-old world number 338-rated female tennis player wowing the home crowd at Wimbledon, writes Tony Stafford. At least on a par, ten miles down the A3 in Esher, St Mark’s Basilica was deservedly making his own headlines.

There is winning a Group 1 race, indeed one completed in slower time for the Sandown Park ten furlongs than the two handicaps over that trip on the card, and then there’s winning it like a potential champion.

You can list a big winner’s credentials but when it gets into the top level it is rare to find a horse running past fully tested Group 1 performers in a few strides and drawing away. That is what St Mark’s Basilica did in swamping Mishriff and Addeybb for speed once Ryan Moore unleashed him.

Afterwards there was the inevitable qualifying of the performance, commentators suggesting Addeybb, who battled back to wrest second off Mishriff, and the third horse may have both come to the race a little under-cooked.

Well here’s the rub. Both horses had already won Group 1 races this year, Addeybb continuing his Australian odyssey with another defeat of the brilliant mare Verry Elleegant in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick in April while Mishriff earned his owner Prince Abdulrahman Abdullah Faisal just about £10 million when annexing his own country’s Saudi Cup and the Dubai Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup night.

Those wins illustrated his versatility, the former over nine furlongs on dirt and the latter a mile and a half on turf, so Sandown’s mile and a quarter will have fitted comfortably within his parameters.

When Mishriff drew alongside Addeybb in the straight on ground possibly a little less soft than ideal for the leader, he looked set to win, but St Mark’s Basilica was poised in behind in this four-horse field and, when given the signal by Ryan, he sailed serenely clear.

Sandown’s tough uphill conclusion often provides sudden changes in momentum. By the line St Mark’s Basilica was, either from loneliness or simply feeling the effects of the sudden change in velocity that took him clear, definitely if marginally coming back to the rallying Addeybb.

But William Haggas’ seven-year-old is a battle-hardened winner of 12 of 23 career starts. Mishriff, handled skilfully by the Gosdens, has won six of 11, but until Saturday his only defeat in the previous six had been in Addeybb’s Champion Stakes where he appeared not to appreciate the very testing ground.

Saturday’s success makes St Mark’s Basilica the winner of four Group 1 races in succession starting with the Dewhurst. That normally is the race that signals the champion juvenile of his year and then he went on to hoard both French Classics open to males, the Poulains and Jockey Club, where his electric burst heralded the type of performance we saw on Saturday.

In a year where four-fifths of the Aidan O’Brien Classic winners have been four different fillies and none of them Santa Barbara, the fifth has been going a long way to eradicate the overall disappointing showings – so far, and remember it is a long season – of the other colts.

A son of Siyouni – also the sire of Sottsass, the 2020 Arc winner, now standing his first-year stallion duties for €30k a pop at Coolmore Stud – his two French Classic wins made him an obvious object of admiration for French breeders as previously mentioned here.

Unfortunately, their pockets will need to have become much deeper than anticipated with each successive Group 1 victory and if the speed that has characterised all his wins remains or, as is more likely, intensifies with experience, he will easily outstrip his sire’s appeal – and stud fee.

Any thought that he will end up anywhere other than Co Tipperary is fanciful and with all those mares needing partners he will have an enviable stream of potential mates. One slight difficulty is that his dam, Cabaret, is by Galileo.

Cabaret was an unusual product of Galileo on the racetrack, atypically precocious enough to win twice including a Group 3 by mid-July of her two-year-old season but never nearer than seventh in four more races. Sold for £600k at the end of her four-year-old season – double the yearling price at which she joined Coolmore – she has been the dam not only of St Mark’s Basilica but also Aidan O’Brien’s 2,000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia, by Invincible Spirit.

Post-race quotes of 6-4 for the Juddmonte International look just about spot on in a year when you get the impression that Aidan is being more confident in narrowing down his candidates for the biggest races to the single most deserving.

Of course, there’s still Love as a possible for the Juddmonte as she won reverting to ten furlongs at Royal Ascot, but why wouldn’t O’Brien prefer to keep her in her comfort zone for a second Yorkshire Oaks at a mile and a half? Then it is the small matter in three weeks of the King George, for which in a vastly over-round market, Love and the Derby winner Adayar are vying for favouritism at around 2-1 or 9-4, with St Mark’s Basilica moving in close at 4-1 if Aidan wants to stretch him out to 12 furlongs as soon as that.

And what of Snowfall? A 16-length Classic winner is not one to ignore wherever she runs. It’s great having a lot of good horses: the trick is knowing where to run them.

One trainer who never seems to be at a loss in choosing the right target for his equine inmates is William Haggas. With 67 wins from 266 runs, but more pertinently having won with 49 of the 106 individual horses he has run this year, the Newmarket trainer operates at a better than 25% strike rate despite many of his horses having to run in high-class handicaps.

If they sometimes are not raised as rapidly as those of his fellow trainers who might have a much less healthy strike rate, the economy with which they often win is at least a contributary factor.

But they are invariably well bet, so for Haggas to be losing under a fiver to level stakes for those 266 runners is miraculous. I saw Bernard Kantor, a patron of Haggas, again last week and we were musing as to whether his Catterick winner Sans Pretension – remember she was DROPPED 2lb for that! – would ever be reappearing.

The next day, Bernard excitedly told me, “She is in at Yarmouth on Wednesday,” about his Galileo filly. I’m sure he will have seen a later and much more high-profile entry in a fillies’ race at Ascot on Friday. I could be tempted as there’s another horse on the same card I really ought to go to see. I had planned to wait until post July 19, so possibly the King George, but maybe I will try to go this week. I bet Sans Pretension will not be too far away in whichever race the shrewd Mr Haggas decides upon.

There are some jewels that one’s eye will often pass over when looking for something in the Racing Post records. While Haggas has had nine winners from 41 runs in the past fortnight there is another area where he has plenty to prove.

Like Ryan Moore, who won a hurdle race first time on the track for his dad before ever riding on the Flat and who has not revisited that discipline since, Haggas had a go at jumping. I know he had at least one winner over jumps, Fen Terrier on October 20, 1995, at Fakenham, but possibly only one.

The 6-4 second favourite, a daughter of Emerati owned by Jolly Farmer Racing, won narrowly with the 5-4 favourite Dominion’s Dream, trained by Martin Pipe, ten lengths behind in third.

William has had a further seven runners over jumps in the intervening 9,389 days without another win. I wonder if he considers he has something to prove. Probably not!

Another of my favourite meetings will come and go without my attendance this week. Whenever I think of Newmarket July I go back to the day when Hitman broke the track record in the competitive ten-furlong three-year-old handicap for owners the Paper Boys, and Brough Scott insisted I do an interview for the telly.

My then wife was blissfully unaware of my association with the Henry Cecil colt, that was until a colleague on a day off who was interested in racing congratulated her on the win in the office the next morning. Other similar offences were digested and clearly taken into account before the eventual inevitable domestic rupture!

- TS

St Mark’s Basilica poised for showdown with Mishriff and Addeyyb

St Mark’s Basilica is out to uphold the honour of the Classic generation in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown on Saturday.

Only three of the last 10 winners have been three-year-olds – despite a 10lb weight-for-age allowance – and they were not even represented last year as Ghaiyyath beat Enable.

Those that have won in recent times include the John Gosden duo of Roaring Lion and Golden Horn and perhaps one of the best Eclipse winners of them all in Sea The Stars.

On what he has done so far this season, the Aidan O’Brien-trained St Mark’s Basilica certainly would not look out of place among those names should he come out on top in a select four-runner field.

Winner of the Dewhurst as a juvenile, in two runs this year the Siyouni colt has landed the French 2000 Guineas and Derby.

“We’ve been delighted with him this season, both his runs,” said O’Brien.

“Everything went well before them and everything has gone well since. The ground is drying up and I’d imagine that the more it dries up the more it will suit him.”

When asked what made him decide to go down the French route with St Mark’s Basilica this season, the Ballydoyle hander replied: “We’d planned to take him over on Arc day last year with the intention of then aiming him at the French races.

“Obviously he couldn’t run on Arc day (due to feed irregularities) and that was how he ended up in the Dewhurst a week later. He was always going to go back to France.”

Ryan Moore has not ridden him since he finished third in the National Stakes, his last defeat.

“There are not many horses who win three Group Ones in a row, but that is what my colt has done in winning the Dewhurst and the two French Classics,” Moore told Betfair.

“I wasn’t on board for any of those successes, but he looked very impressive in beating last year’s Lagardere winner in the Prix du Jockey Club last time.

“Hopefully, getting 10lb from the older horses can swing it his way, but it is clearly his toughest assignment yet. And, of course with just four runners, this promises to be very tactical, too. But it is the same for us all on the latter front.”

Gosden has done his bit for the Eclipse recently, winning it with Nathaniel as well as the earlier aforementioned duo – not to mention running Enable in it the past two years, and she also won it once.

His Mishriff has proved a revelation abroad, but needs to win a big prize on home soil before he perhaps can be considered among his trainer’s very best.

“He was in winter training, which is a little bit different and obviously in his last race (in the UK) he got stuck in a bog at Ascot (on Champions Day),” said Gosden.

“We’ve been happy with him, he trained nicely into the Saudi Cup and flew home, then we had to train him again for the Sheema Classic.”

Mishriff on the gallops in Newmarket this week
Mishriff on the gallops in Newmarket this week (Joe Giddens/PA)

He went on: “He showed his versatility winning over a mile and an eighth on dirt and a mile and a half on turf, and then the idea was immediately to freshen up and give him every possible chance to come back for our summer programme.

“We’re not midway though the summer, but the Eclipse has been our plan for a long time. I’ve been very happy with his preparation. He’s not a horse I take away for racecourse gallops, he’s done enough travelling this year.”

After some trials and tribulations David Egan regained the ride on Mishriff and completed the job in Saudi Arabia and Dubai. He is understandably excited by the challenge.

“I think the Eclipse is the first middle-distance Group One of the European season open to both sexes in which the classic generation meet their elders, so that always makes it very exciting,” said Egan ahead of the latest middle-distance leg of the Qipco British Champions Series.

“It’s a small field, but it’s what you might call a boutique field, as they are all very good, and what makes it even more interesting is that it’s a clash between the last two French Derby winners.

“Mishriff has to give St Mark’s Basilica a bit of weight and it should be a very exciting race to watch, but I think he’s got what it takes. It should be a terrific race and I hope everything goes smoothly.”

A third top-class runner among the quartet is William Haggas’ Addeybb – three times a Grade One winner in Australia and successful in the Champion Stakes in October.

He has proved a real breakthrough horse for Tom Marquand who, like Egan, is a former champion apprentice.

“That spell down under last year was a huge help to my career, for while I was doing quite well already it took everything to a different level for me,” said Marquand.

“As we know, Addeybb is entirely ground dependent, and any more rain will help, but provided it’s suitable for him to run then he ought to have every chance. It’s a small field, but it’s good horses against good horses and that’s just what you want in a race like the Eclipse.”

Roger Varian’s El Drama completes the field. He won the Dee Stakes at Chester, but was a long way behind St Mark’s Basilica in the French Derby.

Gosden anticipating Eclipse to savour for racing ‘purists’

John Gosden has labelled this year’s Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown a race the purists will enjoy as he prepares his globetrotting star Mishriff to face just three rivals.

Wins at the highest level in France and Dubai, plus a valuable race on dirt in Saudi Arabia, have propelled Mishriff from fairly modest beginnings into one of the highest-rated thoroughbreds on the planet.

His presence, along with that of William Haggas’ Addeybb, who is actually 3lb his superior on British figures, and Aidan O’Brien’s French Guineas and Derby winner St Mark’s Basilica means despite the small field, the 10-furlong contest will answer plenty of questions.

Gosden feels the size of the field is understandable, too, given the quality of the big three and the race’s proximity to Royal Ascot.

“He’s not the highest-rated horse, Addeybb is rated 3lb higher officially. I know it’s an elitist field but what people have to realise is that it’s a lot of money to enter these races, a lot of money to stay in at the forfeit stage and it’s a lot of money to confirm,” he said.

“When you have the likes of the front three here, they are not easy to take on so I think a lot of people take that viewpoint. Another thing for those criticising the small field to remember is the Prince of Wales’s was only 16 days ago and I know from experience that it’s very tough to come here after that.

“For the purists this is the type of race they enjoy – and you’ll probably find the outsider, El Drama, will come and do the lot of them!”

Since racing resumed in June last year, Mishriff has raced six times, winning all bar the Champion Stakes in October on ground Gosden described as “diabolical”.

Mishriff going through his paces on the Newmarket gallops
Mishriff going through his paces on the Newmarket gallops (Joe Giddens/PA)

“I don’t want to be critical, but the ground at Ascot on Champions Day was diabolical. I had a lot disappoint and so did Aidan (O’Brien),” said Gosden.

“It’s no one’s fault, but it was bottomless. We used the inner track there once very successfully and when it gets very soft it should be an option.”

It did not stop Addeybb, who relished the testing going, but conditions are set to be a fair bit quicker this weekend.

“I’ve got tons of respect for Addeybb, I think he’s a wonderful horse. He’s won a Champion Stakes, Grade Ones in Sydney and there is talk of some rain on Saturday afternoon. He would enjoy that, we’d be happier on anything from good to firm to good to soft,” said Gosden.

“Of course then you have the big question, in this race you have the best mile-and-a-quarter three-year-old colt in Europe running (St Mark’s Basilica). He’s won a Dewhurst, a French Guineas and he’s gone and won a Prix du Jockey Club the same as Mishriff, so it’s the ultimate test of the three-year-old against his elders.

“Interestingly I always remember Lester (Piggott) saying to me the three-year-olds always have the advantage in the Eclipse with the weight-for-age. I think it has changed 1lb since then. I’ve never been afraid to run three-year-olds in this, nor for the matter the King George.

“Roaring Lion and Golden Horn were three when they won it (the Eclipse) and took advantage of the weight, Enable was coming back off a long lay off when she beat her old friend Magical and last year ran against Ghaiyyath, so to that extent it is always demanding, but Mishriff is a lovely horse and fits in with that type.

“We’re very happy with him going in, but we’re perfectly aware of the task at hand.”

David Egan is making up for lost time on Mishriff
David Egan is making up for lost time on Mishriff (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Former champion apprentice jockey David Egan rides in his role as retained jockey to owner Prince Faisal, although he missed the French victories through suspension and quarantine complications and was overlooked in favour of Frankie Dettori for the Champion Stakes. He was on board in Riyadh and Meydan, though.

“David has ridden him very well, he pops up on him not long before his races, he knows him well. He’s a classy guy, a good rider, a good horseman and he’s very intelligent with it,” said Gosden.”

While he has a win on dirt to his name, Gosden is not currently considering the Breeders’ Cup due to it being held at Del Mar this year.

“I think he needs to win a Group One here. He’s done it in France, he’s done it in the Middle East, it would be nice if he could do it in the UK,” said Gosden.

“I’m not thinking of the Breeders’ Cup for him, though, he’s more of a Belmont horse than Del Mar – the straight is very short at Del Mar, probably the shortest in the world for a Grade One track.

“He’s a horse who just puts his head down and gallops strongly, can handle any ground, he has a clawing action where he really reaches for the ground which helps (on dirt) to a degree. He seems to be comfortable on anything, it’s probably mental determination rather than anything else.

“I think his versatility is down to his action and his attitude.”