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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.”

Winter travels on Oxted’s agenda

Oxted may be going on his travels to either Hong Kong or Dubai for his next run after signing off his domestic season with an eye-catching run in defeat at Ascot.

Trainer Roger Teal has revealed his July Cup winner is a possible for the Group One Hong Kong Sprint in December – although he could give his stable star more time and wait for Dubai in March, when the Al Quoz Sprint would be the main objective.

“We’ve been invited possibly to Hong Kong, but I think we’re going to see what happens with him and maybe go to Dubai next year,” said Teal.

“We might go out there possibly for Super Saturday and World Cup night for the Al Quoz.

“It’s not definite, but to be fair to the horse we might concentrate on that. We’ll be guided by him over the next week or so.

“We’ve got next year to look forward. I don’t want to put too many miles on the clock. We’ve got an exciting year to look forward to next year.”

Teal was pleased with Oxted’s run on Saturday, losing by only a length when fifth to Glen Shiel in the Qipco British Champions Sprint on his first start since Newmarket in the summer.

However, he felt the four-year-old would have gone closer had the pace been stronger and the ground less testing.

The Lambourn trainer said: “He’s fine. He’s come out of the race well – no ill effects, so that’s good.

Trainer Roger Teal
Trainer Roger Teal (Hugh Routledge/PA)

“He was probably just a bit too keen early, and we paid the price late on. There was no pace early. Obviously a stronger pace would have helped us.

“On better ground he’d probably have kept on going. He handled the ground, but I think his stamina ran out over the stiff six.

“That ground blunted his speed a bit. The petrol gauge was going empty, because he was too keen early.

“He didn’t show himself up. He ran with credit, (and) I’m just pleased we’ve got a genuine Group One horse. He ran a stormer.”

Oxted set to take Champions Sprint test at Ascot

Oxted is set to take his chance in the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Connections have decided to bite the bullet and see if the July Cup winner can cope with the likely testing conditions.

While trainer Roger Teal is hoping the ground dries out from Wednesday morning’s official description of soft, heavy in places, he feels they should take the plunge.

Oxted (left) has not run since his Group One win in July
Oxted (left) has not run since his Group One win in July (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Oxted showed his well-being in his final piece of work to rubber-stamp his place in the six-furlong Group One and run for the first time since he won the July Cup at Newmarket.

“He did his final blow on Tuesday on the grass and went really nicely, so we’re happy with him going into Saturday. It’s all systems go,” said the Lambourn handler.

“The plan is to run. We’re going to take our chance. Obviously, we’ve got to find out if he’ll go on the softer conditions. We confirmed to run, so we might as well take our chance now.”

He went on: “The sun’s shining this morning. Hopefully it will stay that way for the next three days and tighten the ground up a bit and then the tighter the ground gets, the better the chance we have.”

“You’ve got to find these things out. There’s no point in keep ducking the issue. He’s bred to go on it. His mum went on it and his dad went on it, so on his pedigree he’s got a good chance of handling it now he’s stronger.

“You can’t guarantee it, but I think we’re in better shape now to find out one way or the other.”

Teal on weather watch for Oxted ahead of Ascot

Oxted will only run in the Qipco British Champions Sprint at Ascot next month if conditions are suitable.

Trainer Roger Teal reports his July Cup winner to be back in rude health after being forced to miss the Sprint Cup at Haydock.

Preparations are going swimmingly now ahead of the Group One sprint over six furlongs – but Teal would rather put him away for the season rather than risk the proven fast-ground performer on going that would compromise his chance.

“He’s back in full work and we’re going quietly away with him towards Ascot, all being well,” said Teal.

“Obviously we’ll monitor the ground situation. If this weather could last for another month we’d be highly delighted, but it’s unlikely to happen.

“We’ll have to make a decision whether we go there or not or wait until next year or whatever. He’s only a four-year-old.

“We wanted to go to Haydock, but things didn’t go right. We don’t want to go to Champions Day if we’re not sure about conditions.

“We gave him a quite week. We didn’t stop working with him. He just went on hacks and we freshened him up. He’s been doing some healthy exercise.

“He’s cantering away now and looks absolutely superb. We’re happy with the way he looks.”