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Oxted in line for Saudi adventure

Roger Teal is considering giving July Cup hero Oxted a first start on dirt on his return to action next year in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint in Saudi Arabia.

The $1.5million six-furlong contest is one of two races the Lambourn handler is considering for the Mayson gelding at the Saudi Cup meeting on February 20 along with the 1351 Turf Sprint over slightly further.

Although the four year-old, who provided Teal with his first Group One success in the summer feature at Newmarket, has yet to race on anything else but turf, Teal believes he would have no problems switching to a dirt surface.

Teal said: “The obvious one for us would be the Turf Sprint which is run over about six and three-quarter furlongs. I suppose his ideal trip would be six, but he has won over seven in the past so it shouldn’t be a problem.

“We will also have a look at the Riyadh Dirt Sprint too which is run over six as we know he goes so well over that distance.

“I’ve heard really good things about the quality of the dirt surface – I spoke to James Doyle who was very complimentary about it.

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“Also, in the back of my mind I know that he is trained on the all-weather at home and he is a speedy horse that normally holds a prominent position, so the kick-back should be less of a concern.”

Roger Teal believes a trip to Saudi Arabia fits in well for July Cup winner Oxted (Hugh Routledge/PA)
Roger Teal believes a trip to Saudi Arabia fits in well for July Cup winner Oxted (Hugh Routledge/PA)

Teal reports Oxted to be in good shape, having given him a short break since finishing fifth in the British Champions Sprint on his final start last season.

He added: “He came back in on Monday (last week) after a short break just to freshen him up a bit. I guess it was about four weeks or so to give him some time to chill out after a busy season.

“He was out in the field during the day and came back in at night. It seems to have done him the world of good and we now start our preparations for a potential trip to Riyadh in February.

“We will wind him up slowly and gradually step up his exercise routine.”

An outing in the Longines Hong Kong Sprint on Sunday had been mooted as a possibility for Oxted, but Teal felt the timing was not quite right.

He said: “The Saudi Cup meeting sits perfectly in the calendar for him as we build towards another season in the UK.

“We had the option of going to Hong Kong, but that meeting just came too late in the season for us.

“Targeting the Saudi Cup sprints allowed us to give the horse a break then bring him back. We’d love to go there and take our chance.”

Ocean Wind, seen winning at Lingfield, could potentially join stablemate Oxted in Saudi Arabia (Alan Crowhurst/PA)
Ocean Wind, seen winning at Lingfield, could potentially join stablemate Oxted in Saudi Arabia (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Teal could also be represented at the meeting by progressive stayer Ocean Wind, after earmarking the Long Distance Turf Handicap as a target.

A Listed bumper winner, the son of Teofilo has not looked back since suffering switching to the Flat, rattling up a hat-trick of wins culminating in victory at Doncaster in October.

Teal said: “I’m not sure he will be rated quite high enough to get in, but I’d love to take Ocean Wind to Riyadh too for the Long Distance Turf Handicap.

“He came back in last week and has only been trotting since. He’s an exciting prospect who has won his last three and still seems to be improving.

“The trip and conditions look ideal and I know his owners are keen to give it a go. Fingers crossed we can get him into the race.”

Ocean Wind delights Roger Teal with Doncaster success

Ocean Wind put up a strong staying performance when defying the steadier of 10st in the vertem.co.uk Handicap at Doncaster.

Roger Teal looks to have an exciting stayer on his hands after the lightly-raced four-year-old gave 21lb and 14lb to Opera Gift and Hiroshima respectively.

Formerly a smart bumper performer, Ocean Wind was denied the chance to go for the Cesarewitch despite winning the official trial at Newmarket as he had only run twice under Flat rules when the weights came out.

This was his first race since and he showed he would have been a player in the two-and-a-quarter-mile marathon after outstaying and outbattling two persistent challengers.

Getting on top in the closing stages after a prolonged three-way fight, Ocean Wind (13-8) got the verdict by half a length and the same in the hands of Jack Mitchell.

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“God bless him. He just knows how to please – he’s just a little superstar. If I had a few more like him I’d be delighted,” said Teal.

“He just keeps on improving. It was a good performance giving all that weight to Andrew Balding’s horse (Opera Gift).”

Ocean Wind, who was sixth in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham in March, has won his last three of four starts on the Flat and is set to be aimed high in 2021.

“Obviously I’ll talk to the owner, but we’re at the end of the season here so we’ll probably focus on next year,” said Teal.

“He could go up into Pattern company next year.

“He’s a stayer on the up, which is exciting to have.”

Silvestre de Sousa and Keith Dalgleish teamed up to score with Aberama Gold in the Vertem Investing In The Future Handicap before going on to have their own doubles.

De Sousa made the most of what looked an easy lead on the only three-year-old in the six-furlong dash.

The former champion managed to grab the stands rail at the business end, which helped Aberama Gold (9-1) hang on by a neck from King’s Lynn and register his first success since the Listed Rockingham Stakes at York last October.

De Sousa doubled up with another all-the-way win, on Kaleidoscopic (17-2) for trainer Mick Channon.

Jockey Silvestre De Sousa was in double-winning form at Doncaster
Jockey Silvestre De Sousa was in double-winning form at Doncaster (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Shane Gray steered the game Heights Of Abraham to a length-and-a-quarter verdict over Valorant to initiate Dalgleish’s brace in the Vertem Leading The Field Nursery Handicap.

The Roger Varian-trained El Drama (10-11 favourite) earned a quote of 25-1 from Betway for the Qipco 2000 Guineas when making a pleasing racecourse debut to take the British EBF Maiden Stakes by half a length from Colonel Faulkner.

Teal confirms Cesarewitch blow as he seeks new course for Ocean Wind

Roger Teal must draw up a new plan for Ocean Wind after learning his Cesarewitch Trial winner will not be allowed to run in the showpiece handicap itself over the same course and distance next month.

Sixth in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival in March, the Teofilo colt finished third on his Flat debut at Lingfield in early August before returning to the Surrey track – switching from the all-weather to turf – to go a couple of places better three weeks later.

Ocean Wind was a hot favourite for his latest test at Newmarket – and following a runaway success on Saturday, several bookmakers slashed his odds and made him ante-post market leader for the Cesarewitch on October 10.

However, the British Horseracing Authority has since confirmed he is not eligible for the marathon handicap because he had not run three times on the Flat before the weights were released last week.

Teal said: “There’s no way they’re going to allow us in, unfortunately. They’re saying he had to have three runs (prior to the weights being released), even though he was given a handicap mark after his first two runs.

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“He was given a handicap mark on the day the entry closed. If they’d flagged it up to me that he needed another run, we possibly could have got one into him, but no one notified us that he was a non-qualifier.

“Normally when you have a non-qualifier they ring you and tell you, but there’s been a breakdown in communication. I think it’s slipped through and was only picked up later on, which is annoying for me and the owners and everyone involved.

“I guess the rules are the rules. He won the trial so impressively, and it looked like he would have had a hell of a chance in the big race, but there’s nothing we can do, so we’ve just got to take our medicine.

“It’s just a blip really. He’s only a young horse and an exciting horse to go forward with, that’s for sure.”

With plans therefore thrown into disarray, the Lambourn-based trainer is unsure when and where Ocean Wind will make his next competitive appearance, but it seems unlikely he will return to the National Hunt sphere for a jumping career.

Teal added: “There’s a couple of options. I wanted to see what his handicap mark was today (Tuesday), and he’s rated 96.

“I’ll just have to have a look what’s in the programme book for him now. The trouble is there’s very few opportunities over a longer distance, so he might have to step back to a mile and a half. Ideally he wants a mile and six (furlongs) to two miles.

“He obviously started off in bumpers, but he’s still a colt and not very big, which is why we wanted to go down the Flat route to see how he coped with that – and obviously he’s coped well.

“The owner isn’t a massive jumping fan, and now he’s set his stall out on the Flat and looks like he’s going to be a high-quality stayer.

“I’m not sure what’s happening with the All-Weather Championships going forward, but you’ve got the Marathon if that all goes ahead, so we could look at that.

“Plans are a bit up in the air at the moment. It’s upsetting for everyone that he can’t run in the Cesarewitch, but it is what it is – and we’ll just have to brush ourselves off and get on with it.”