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Hollie Doyle strikes in Riyadh on True Self

Hollie Doyle broke American hearts when bringing Willie Mullins’ True Self with a tremendous late run to take the Neom Turf Cup in Riyadh.

Britain’s record-breaking female jockey produced True Self to collar long-time leader Channel Maker close home and lift the £437,956 first prize.

Bill Mott’s Channel Maker, a close third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, looked like he had the race in the bag when he slipped the field at the top of straight after soaring past For The Top.

However, jockey Joel Rosario had not accounted for True Self’s abundant stamina – and the eight-year-old started to reduce the gap.

With Doyle in full drive, True Self pulled away from Channel Maker to score by a length and a quarter. The pair were four and three-quarter lengths clear of Emirates Knight in third.

The well-fancied Tilsit, trained by Charlie Hills, had a good early position but was beaten a long way from home.

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Doyle enjoyed a sensational 2020 – and again looks like carrying all before her.

She said: “It was an incredible year (last year) and it’s great to get this year off winning a valuable race such as this.

“To be fair, I thought she was my best winning chance of the day. I watched all her performances and I thought she was well up to winning this. The step back in trip was an incredibly clever move by Mr Mullins. She’s a strong traveller usually over further trips, and that helped her today.

Hollie Doyle at the presentation ceremony
Hollie Doyle at the presentation ceremony (Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Neville Hopwood)

“They went an even, generous gallop all the way round. We got racing quite soon so the race fell apart quite early, but luckily I managed to latch on to the back of Ryan Moore (on Tilsit) and I got the splits up the straight.”

Doyle admitted riding in the jockeys’ challenge at the track on Friday, even though she had no luck, was a big help to her.

She said: “It made a huge difference. It was great walking into a day as important as this having the experience I gained yesterday.”

A proud Mullins looked on from his County Carlow base, and was full of praise for both Doyle and his winning mare.

He said: “I’d like to congratulate Hollie on a fantastic ride.

“She’s way more speed than we thought when we bought her – as a bumper mare, to go hurdling with.

“She just has a huge amount of speed. All the jockeys who have ridden her have said to me that a mile and a quarter suits her.

“I was happy enough with where Hollie had positioned herself – and I imagine, without having talked to Hollie (yet), that she was probably going as fast as she could over the first half of the race.

True Self collars Channel Maker
True Self collars Channel Maker (Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Neville Hopwood)

“Then, when the pace was injected as the American horse went up on the outside, I thought ‘that’s great, because they’ll be coming back at the end’.

“Sure enough – that’s what happened. Hollie just kept her head, kept the position we’d discussed – if we’d anything left in the tank we’d just wait and wait as long as she could.

“It looked like our mare just stayed on and on, while the one in front was just tying up.”

He added: “We’ve had gale force winds here (in Ireland) and an inch of rain this morning, and I thought ‘it’ll be lovely over there’. But then I saw at the start you had lots of rain as well. So I thought ‘that suits the mare – she’ll feel more at home with that’.”

Looking to future targets for True Self, Mullins said: “We’ll have a look – today’s race and Australia at the end of this year in November, that’s the main plan. So what we do in between times we haven’t really thought about.

“The first part of the year’s plan has worked out, and it will be probably on to Australia from here.”

Bowerman bags Qatar prize on big weekend for McGuinness team

Bowerman gave trainer Ado McGuinness a notable international success with victory in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Cup in Qatar on Friday.

The seven-year-old overcame a wide draw to scoop the £83,000 first prize in the local Group Two contest over a mile at Doha.

Ridden by Ronan Whelan, Bowerman led inside the furlong and held Dominus by a neck. It was the perfect start to an important couple of days for the McGuinness team and in a further boost Betrayed and Thrumps Dream gave the County Dublin trainer a double nearer home in Dundalk.

“It’s been a very special day. Ado’s brother Laurence passed away a few weeks ago so we all needed a bit of a lift. He was obviously looking down on us today,” said McGuinness’ assistant, Stephen Thorne, from Dundalk.

“Ronan (Whelan) gave Bowerman a remarkable ride. We were drawn wide and the stats were against us, but he was very cool on the horse.

“He picked up well and won well at the line. Our ex-apprentice Ian Brennan is representing us out there.”

McGuinness himself is in Saudi Arabia supervising his two runners there on Saturday.

“Ado is in Riyadh were we have Harry’s Bar and Saltonstall running and fingers crossed we can get a bit of luck there,” Thorne added.

“Saltonstall is prominent in the betting and his race has cut up, so we just need a bit of luck. It’s a race for a million dollars, and Harry’s Bar is in the dirt sprint – a million-and-a-half race.

“It’s dream stuff to even be represented by them.”

Shane Foley takes top spot in international challenge

Leading Irish jockey Shane Foley claimed top honours in the stc International Jockeys Challenge in Riyadh on Friday.

Riders from all over the world jetted in to Saudi Arabia for the second running of the competition, which acts as the perfect appetiser to Saturday’s high-profile card at the King Adbulaziz Racetrack, which features the $20million Saudi Cup.

Foley, who as stable jockey Jessica Harrington has enjoyed big-race success aboard the likes of Albigna, Cadillac and Lucky Vega in the last couple of years, landed two of the four races that form the challenge, first striking gold on Emblem Star.

The 3-1 favourite was drawn widest of all in the second leg of the event, but a smart start allowed Foley to navigate his mount across the track and take up a handy position before kicking clear from the home turn for a decisive victory.

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Foley was soon on the mark again, with Motawariyah (9-2) similarly impressive in the following race – and after being confirmed as the winner of the competition, the Kilkenny native was keen to dedicate his success to nine-times champion jockey Pat Smullen, who died last year following a long battle with cancer.

Foley said: “It’s fantastic to be involved, and maybe I wouldn’t be here if Pat Smullen was here. He’d have probably got the invite as he was the go-to man and it’s days like today that make you think of Pat, but he’d be proud of me I think.

“When you’re competing in these races it’s a random draw, so you’ve a chance of getting on a fancied horse and I was lucky enough to draw two that had chances. I had a nice run around on both of them and they both won.

“I know they’re not Group races, but it’s on the big stage with a lot of people watching and obviously good for your career.

“It’s up there was one of the most enjoyable nights I’ve had for a while – it beats Dundalk, anyway!”

American great Mike Smith enjoyed a winner at the international jockeys challenge
American great Mike Smith enjoyed a winner at the international jockeys challenge (Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Douglas DeFelice)

The first leg went to 7-2 favourite Mortajeh, with American legend Mike Smith taking over in the saddle from John Velazquez, who was unable to travel to Saudi Arabia due to travel complications.

Hall of Fame rider Smith was crowned champion in the inaugural contest last year after landing two of the four races, but was later demoted to third after one of of his winners, Sun Hat, was disqualified due to a positive test for cobalt.

“I wasn’t even meant to be riding in the jockeys’ challenge – Johnny Velazquez couldn’t make it, so I filled in for him. I only heard about two hours beforehand,” said Smith, who this year finished third in the overall competition.

“It was great to start out with a winner and I’m happy with the result. This is a great event and the prize-money is amazing.”

Charlatan is favourite for the $20million Saudi Cup
Charlatan is favourite for the $20million Saudi Cup (Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Mathea Kelley)

Smith will ride favourite Charlatan in the Saudi Cup, and said of the Bob Baffert-trained colt: “Charlatan is an extremely talented horse and I’m really excited about him running. I think he’s going to really like this surface and hopefully he runs as well as I expect him to.”

Saudi Arabian rider Adel Alfouradi landed the fourth and final leg on 14-1 shot Zhabi Alhammad, which was enough to give him the runner-up spot.

William Buick and Hollie Doyle finished out of the places in each of the races.

Oxted must defy wide draw in Riyadh Sprint

Oxted has to overcome a wide draw as well handling a different surface in the Saudi Arabian Airlines Riyadh Dirt Sprint.

Trainer Roger Teal has been pleased the way his July Cup winner has worked on the dirt track in Riyadh, but admits a lower draw would have been preferable this weekend.

“He’s been happy on the dirt, and obviously we’ll find out more on Saturday,” said the Lambourn trainer.

“He’s training well on it, so we’re good to go, but he’s not got the best draw in the world.

“He’s been drawn 11. It will be a bit tougher out there, but we can’t do anything about it. We’ve just got to get on with it. Everything else is good.”

Hollie Doyle admits her mount Brad The Brief has something to find on form, but she expects Tom Dascombe’s four-year-old to put up a decent show.

“He won in France last time. He’s got a bit of improvement to be up to this, but I think he should run well,” she said.

Tilsit takes a shot at a mile and a quarter for the first time in the Neom Turf Cup, where he would be a poignant winner in the colours of the late Khalid Abdullah.

Tilsit steps up in trip for the Neom Turf Cup
Tilsit steps up in trip for the Neom Turf Cup (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Having had just the four starts over a mile, Charlie Hills’ four-year-old is unexposed.

“Not many horses can say they’ve won by 19 lengths, even over jumps!” said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owners Juddmonte Farms.

“Obviously that Newcastle performance was striking, albeit in a weak race, but he followed that up by winning at Goodwood in a Group Three.

“He probably needed the race a little at Newmarket, but he still ran well in the Joel Stakes and wasn’t beaten very far. This race has always been in the back of our minds.

“It’s a little further than a mile, so that’s a little unknown, but the Prince’s family were keen for him to take a shot as he likes fast ground.

“He’s drawn on the outside, but over 10 furlongs I like to think that shouldn’t make too much difference.”

True Self is one of Hollie Doyle's rides in Riyadh
True Self is one of Hollie Doyle’s rides in Riyadh (Mike Egerton/PA)
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The Willie Mullins-trained True Self drops down in trip, but Doyle feels that could suit.

“She’s dropping down in trip, a bit of a globetrotter, but she ran well over further here last year – and I think the step down in trip will be a positive,” she said.

Soft Whisper takes on the colts in the Al Rahji Bank Saudi Derby, having romped to victory in the UAE 1000 Guineas.

Trainer Saeed bin Suroor reports the filly to be in tremendous shape.

“She won the trial and the Guineas very easily, and this time will face the colts – but she came back great from her race, and I think we can get the best result again from her,” he said.

Saeed bin Suroor reports Soft Whisper to be in fine form ahead of the Saudi Derby
Saeed bin Suroor reports Soft Whisper to be in fine form for the Saudi Derby (Mike Egerton/PA)

“She will have to be handy in the race, and I think that will suit her better.

“The pace will be faster this time, and I think it’s an open race with some very good horses in there.”

Godolphin have a second string to their bow in Rebel’s Romance, winner of the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial.

His trainer Charlie Appleby said: “Rebel’s Romance is a big, scopey horse and has quite a frame to fill – but he’s obviously shown some talent, which is nice to see, so let’s see how far we can get with him.

“This is a big step forward for him – Saeed’s filly was very impressive in the UAE Guineas and will get the fillies’ allowance.”

Trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam takes a punt with Albadri following his victory at Southwell.

Doyle was in the plate that day and continues the association.

“He won at Southwell, and I think he’s taken to the dirt really well – which is a good sign,” she said.

“Whether he’s good enough I’m not sure, but I’m sure he’ll run well.”

Charlie Fellowes reports the globetrotting Prince Of Arran to be on song for the Red Sea Turf Handicap.

Prince Of Arran's trainer Charlie Fellowes
Prince Of Arran’s trainer Charlie Fellowes (Simon Cooper/PA)

The Newmarket trainer said: “We’re delighted with the draw. I think if you’d given me free choice before the race of where I’d want to come out of, stall four would probably have been my first pick, so I couldn’t be happier with that.”

Red Verdon is another who enjoys travel and he has had the benefit of a pipe-opener two weeks ago. However, his trainer Ed Dunlop accepts this is a tough ask.

“He had a little break and then came back with a prep run at Lingfield,” he said.

“He hasn’t been away properly since Australia, when he was sadly unable to run in the Melbourne Cup, but he loves going abroad and won a Group Two in France last year.

Red Verdon represents Ed Dunlop in the Red Sea Turf Handicap
Red Verdon represents Ed Dunlop in the Red Sea Turf Handicap (Steve Davies/PA)

“I’m expecting him to come on from his Lingfield run, but I’m under no illusions – this is a very strong, competitive race.”

Andrew Balding was unable to get a prep race into Spanish Mission, but believes his runner has a lot going for him.

“He’s reasonably well-treated on the best of his form. Ideally we could have done with a prep race, but there was nothing suitable for him,” said Balding.

“He’s a talented stayer, and conditions should suit him.”

Mark Johnston is happy with Mildenberger following a brief scare on arrival.

The Middleham trainer said: “He had a temperature when he arrived, which was a bit of a concern, and he was unable to do any ridden work for the first few days.

“But he’s apparently been well throughout that time, eating well and bright and so on, (and) the temperature has come back down to normal.

“It’s a very competitive race, but I think he’s as good a chance as anybody. He comes here off a win, so I’m very hopeful.”

Appleby is double-handed with Space Blues and Glorious Journey in the STC 1351 Turf Sprint.

Trainer Charlie Appleby
Trainer Charlie Appleby (Simon Cooper/PA)

He said: “Space Blues went to Meydan last week for a racecourse gallop and has come forward for that gallop, which should hopefully put him spot on for the weekend.

“He comes into the race on the back of a good European campaign. It was great to see him get his Group One last year, and he was pretty faultless really.

“Glorious Journey has had a run at Meydan. He finished third in this race last year from an outside draw, and he has been his usual consistent self this campaign.

“He came out here and put up a sensible performance in the Al Fahidi. He has definitely come on for that run.”

Hollie Doyle all set for International Jockeys’ Challenge

Hollie Doyle is excited to be competing in the stc International Jockeys’ Challenge in Saudi Arabia.

She is one of seven female jockeys, including last year’s winner Sibylle Vogt, taking on two local and five overseas male riders in Riyadh on Friday.

Doyle had a successful debut in a similar competition in Hong Kong in December when she won on Harmony N Blessed to clinch third spot and earn a place on the winners podium.

The tournament consists of four races on the dirt course, with the winning rider receiving $30,000.

Her mounts are Interlaken in the first leg over seven furlongs, Stylehunter over a mile, Sowt Alreeh over nine furlongs and Moahal in the final leg over six furlongs.

With all the horses trained locally, Doyle knows little about them but has been doing as much homework as she can – and looking forward to getting a taste of the track first hand before the meeting.

“I’m really excited about it. There’s great prize-money up for grabs, so I just need a bit of luck really,” she said.

“I’ve had a brief look at the form. It’s quite hard because they are local horses. I think one or two of them have a bit of form. Some are stepping back in trip and are running over trips they don’t usually run over, so it will be interesting.

William Buick is a second UK-based rider in the International Jockeys' Challenge in Saudi Arabia
William Buick is a second UK-based rider in the International Jockeys’ Challenge in Saudi Arabia (Tim Goode/PA)

“I’m walking the track today and riding out in the morning, before the meeting in the evening. I will have a good idea then.”

Among the other female riders are Jessica Marcialis, the first woman to ride a Group One winner in France in the Prix Marcel Boussac, and Malin Holmberg – whose victories include the 1000 and 2000 Guineas in Norway.

The male jockeys include Godolphin’s William Buick, Irish Classic-winner Shane Foley, three-time Kentucky Derby hero John Velazquez, Brazilian ace Jorge Ricardo and Cristian Demuro, who won the Arc on Sottsass in October.

Last year’s challenge saw history made when Lisa Allpress rode Matmon to victory in the first leg.

Three-time champion jockey in New Zealand, Allpress stormed up the far rail to deny Olivier Peslier aboard Motayammen, becoming the first woman to ride a winner in Saudi Arabia.

Hollie Doyle to team up with True Self in Saudi Arabia

Hollie Doyle has been booked to ride the Willie Mullins-trained mare True Self in the Neom Turf Cup in Saudi Arabia this weekend.

Now an eight-year-old, True Self showed she was as good as ever on her last outing when winning the Group Three Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Flemington for a second time in November.

A real globetrotter, as well as her trips to Australia, she has run in England, Ireland, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia within the last 14 months.

Her part-owner OTI’s general manager Shayne Driscoll told www.oti.com.au: “It’s great to see her make the trip back to Riyadh to race for such significant prize money.

“This year we opted for the 2,100-metre race (10 and a half furlongs), rather than the 3000m event, feeling that she’s ready to run a top race at the shorter distance.

“Willie Mullins is exceptionally pleased with her and can’t fault her work.

“We’re hoping for an ideal barrier, but with star jockey Hollie Doyle booked to ride, we think she should have every chance to run a super race.”

Dettori booked for Prince Of Arran in Saudi Arabia

Frankie Dettori will ride Prince Of Arran for the first time in the Red Sea Turf Handicap in Riyadh next weekend.

The $2.5million contest at the Saudi Cup meeting is the latest adventure for the Charlie Fellowes-trained Prince Of Arran, who has been an outstanding servant to his connections in races all around the world.

He has been placed in the last three Melbourne Cups and looked in good heart when finishing a close third on his reappearance at Kempton earlier this month.

Frankie Dettori has some big rides coming up in Saudi Arabia
Frankie Dettori has some big rides coming up in Saudi Arabia (David Davies/PA)

Fellowes told ITV Racing: “He’s in good nick and I’m looking forward to seeing him out there, hopefully the journey goes well.

“We’ve got Frankie up, which will be interesting. He’s never ridden him before, but you couldn’t have a better jockey in the plate.

“I’m looking forward to it.”

Harry’s Bar raring to go for Saudi assignment

Ado McGuinness is excited at the prospect of running Harry’s Bar in the Saudi Arabian Airlines Riyadh Dirt Sprint next week.

The trainer bought the six-year-old gelding for 75,000 guineas at Tattersalls Horses In Training Sales in October – and less than four months later he will be racing for a prize worth $1,500,000 over six furlongs in the Middle East.

So far, Harry’s Bar has been a revelation since his move from James Fanshawe’s Newmarket stables, winning both his starts for the County Dublin handler at Dundalk.

“He’s in great form. He’s come back 100 per cent from his last race, he’s cantering away and he’s heading out to Saudi on Sunday morning,” said McGuinness.

“They tell me it’s the closest dirt track to an all-weather surface probably in the world. He’s an all-weather specialist so hopefully he’ll act on it.”

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McGuinness felt his head was on the block when he ran Harry’s Bar shortly after buying him at the sales.

“We’ve only run him twice and the first day when he won the Listed race if he had got beat and finished down the field I’d have been called all sorts, because he’d only come out of the sales and run a few days later,” he said.

“We gambled and it worked. He’s a very good horse and is enjoying life here.

Ado McGuinness has two runners in Saudi Arabia and one in Qatar next week
Ado McGuinness has two runners in Saudi Arabia and one in Qatar next week (PA)

“His win at Dundalk last week was a very good performance.

“The handicapper put his turf rating up 3lb after that and left his all-weather mark alone. I couldn’t understand that.

“If he goes back to the grass I think he’ll be a nice horse for the Wokingham.”

Salstonstall is set to join his stablemate in Saudi Arabia for a conditions race worth $1m after he runs at Dundalk on Friday.

McGuinness’ stable stalwart faces just four rivals when he has his first race for 88 days in the Hollywoodbets Horse Racing And Sports Betting Race.

“He’s heading for Saudi as well all being well,” he went on.

Bowerman has a big-race date in Qatar
Bowerman has a big-race date in Qatar (PA)

“He’s in really good form after his break. I’m looking forward to getting him out and about.

“It’s not going to be easy in Saudi, but I think he’ll run a big race there.

Not too far away in Qatar, another McGuinness inmate, Bowerman, will fly the flag in a local Group Two at Doha over a mile.

“Bowerman goes to Doha next week for mile Group Two on the grass on the Friday night. We’d have gone for the bigger race there, only the handicapper dropped him,” he said.

Power play likely again for Dettori with Bahrain ace

Bahrain trainer Allan Smith is confident he can acquire the services of Frankie Dettori again for Dark Power in the 1351 Turf Sprint in Saudi Arabia next month.

The combination teamed up for a shock 66-1 triumph in the near seven-furlong contest in Riyadh 12 months ago, when they left such smart performers as Mubtasim, Glorious Journey and Suedois in their wake.

“He’s riding for me this Friday in Bahrain in our Crown Prince’s Cup and I shall have a quiet word, but I’m almost sure he will be on board,” said Smith.

Smith fondly recalled the big day in 2020.

“Dark Power had broken the 1200-metre track record and the 1000m track record in Bahrain before going there,” he said.

“We knew he was a quality horse, but we were only racing up against what we had here.

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“I remember saying to Frankie when I legged him up, ‘don’t forget there’s prize money down to sixth’. He said he wouldn’t forget, but going round the paddock I thought it would take a good one to beat him. He looked every bit the part.”

Dark Power has raced little in the last 11 months due to the pandemic, but Smith reports the former Clive Cox-trained gelding to be ready to defend his crown.

“He’s had nearly a year not doing too much. We were hoping to run him on World Cup night (in Dubai) when we got back from Saudi, but that was cancelled,” he said.

“I didn’t want to get him ready too early this year because we always had this race in mind.

“He’s just had two quiet runs, but basically we’ve been trying to keep his weight low as he eats like the proverbial horse.

“The day after his race the other day his weight was pretty much spot on. It is roughly what it was going into the Saudi race last year.”

Dettori’s mount for Smith in the 10-furlong, 12-runner Bahrain showpiece is Rayounpour, formerly trained in Ireland by Mick Halford.

His trainer believes he can improve for a run that saw him beat four of his rivals over a mile and a half on New Year’s Day.

Smith said: “Rayounpour won over both 10 furlongs and a mile and a half for Mick Halford, so we know he’s got the pace for this. It looks a good renewal with the likes of Simsir and Litigator in the field. Frankie knows the Bahrain circuit well and I’m looking forward to it.”

Simsir – like Rayounpour once trained by Halford – defeated a high-class field in the Bahrain International Trophy in November.

Simsir, who is trained by Fawzi Nass, benefitted from an enterprising ride from Scottish jockey Lee Newman in November, but Nass has opted for Dutch rider Adrie De Vries for his latest challenge.

Nass said: “Simsir has enjoyed a nice break since his win in the Bahrain International Trophy. I think he has improved since then and has definitely strengthened up. The standard of racing in Bahrain is a lot more competitive than it used to be four or five years ago.”

Andrea Atzeni has plumped for the ex-Roger Varian-trained Litigator over another former stablemate Gold Wand (Mickael Barzalona). The pair are now with Haider Ebrahim.

Atzeni said: “Litigator is in great shape and his home work has been very good. It was a very tight decision between the two, but on his home work, he has a little bit more speed than the filly. Both of them have won over a mile and a half, so this would probably be their minimum trip.

“It’s a fair track with a long straight and the best horse normally wins here.”

July Cup hero Oxted set for dirt assignment in Saudi Arabia

Oxted is likely to run in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint rather then the 1351 Turf Sprint in Saudi Arabia next month.

Trainer Roger Teal feels the six-furlong trip will suit his July Cup winner more than the slightly longer distance of the turf race.

“At the moment we are favouring the dirt really because it’s six furlongs,” said Teal

“Obviously, it’s an unknown surface for us but because it’s a flat six furlongs I think that is where we are going to go.

“He’s a good-moving horse. He likes the top of the ground and handles all sorts of ground.

“He trains on an all-weather surface every day, so I’m just hoping. The reports are very good about the dirt track in Saudi. That gives me confidence. There’s not too much kickback apparently.

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“As long as there wasn’t going to be tons of kickback, I think we’re going to be happy to run him on it.”

Teal was happy to take up the Saudi invitation as the timing of the meeting (February 20) fits in nicely with long-term plans for his stable star.

“The timing of the race was good for us. It was enough time to give him a break and then prepare him for the season ahead. We can go to Saudi, come back, maybe go to Dubai for World Cup night if things go to plan,” the Lambourn trainer told a Saudi Cup press conference.

“We can then prepare for Ascot and another go at the July Cup. The timing is just right.

Cieren Fallon returns victorious aboard Oxted
Cieren Fallon returns victorious aboard Oxted (Hugh Routledge/PA)

“We’ll see how he travels to Saudi first because he’s never travelled before. We’ll be a little bit wiser after the event.

“He’s pretty straightforward and takes things in his stride, but you don’t know until you do it. He should be fine.”

Teal is confident Oxted’s regular rider Cieren Fallon will be on board at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack.

“He definitely gets on so well with the horse. Hopefully when Cieren’s available he can ride him whenever,” he said.

“This horse has got good gate speed. He travels strong. He’s got early pace so I think the pace of the race will suit him fine.

“The pace beat us at Ascot (on Champions Day) last year. There wasn’t enough pace for him.”

Roger Teal with Oxted and son Harry at Newmarket
Roger Teal with Oxted and son Harry at Newmarket (Hugh Routledge/PA)

Teal’s son Harry will escort Oxted to Saudi Arabia, but the trainer is hoping he will be there too, if Covid-19 regulations allow.

“Harry will go with him out there,” he added.

“You can’t make any firm plans yet, but we’d like to be there if we can.

“He’s pretty much on track. He’s been stepping up weekly. We’re very happy. We’ll just keep tipping away with what we’re doing and get him there in good shape.

“If we’re allowed to I’m looking to getting him to Wolverhampton just to have one good sprint round the turn because he’s never run round a bend. That’s another thing we’ve got to find out about him.

“He’s in good shape. I’m very happy with him. He had a short break after Ascot. He had a month away and came back looking tremendous. He’s really blossomed through the winter.”

Johnston team mulling Riyadh date for Mildenberger

Mildenberger could have big assignments in Saudi Arabia and Lingfield following his victory at Wolverhampton.

The Mark Johnston-trained stayer booked his place in the Betway Marathon Championship on All-Weather Finals Day on Good Friday in a fast-track qualifier on Monday.

Before that, the six-year-old could pay a visit to the Middle East for the Long Distance Turf Handicap at Riyadh next month.

“He’ll definitely go to Lingfield on Finals Day and he’s in at Saudi next month,” said Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father.

“I’ll have to clarify how their system works out there as to whether he’ll get a penalty for his win, because at the moment he’s not guaranteed a run. Were they to pump him up the weights slightly, that might get him in.

“Were he to get a run, he could quite possibly go to Saudi. That’s about six weeks before the all-weather finals, so it won’t have any bearing on him going there.”

Prix Royal-Oak winner Subjectivist, the yard’s other entry in the one-mile-seven furlong handicap, has yet to secure a place, much to Johnston’s surprise.

“Subjectivist is in the same race at Saudi. I was a bit perplexed when I saw the entries that our 111-rated last time out Group One winner isn’t guaranteed a run and there are some pretty out of form horses above him in the weights,” he said.

Subjectivist (right) has an entry in Saudi Arabia
Subjectivist (right) has an entry in Saudi Arabia (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He’s going to need a couple of horses to come out to make sure he gets a run, so we will have to see how that transpires over the next couple of weeks, but he is back in work and we’ve got half an eye on that should he get in.”

Johnston revealed Leopardo is in Dubai and likely to run at Meydan next week. The three-year-old colt has an entry in the Saudi Derby.

“He is out in Dubai and he’ll probably run in the Al Bastakiya Trial next Thursday,” he said.

“He does have an entry in the Saudi Derby, but again he’s not guaranteed a run.”

Prince Of Arran set for Kempton spin ahead of international targets

Prince Of Arran is likely to run at Kempton next month before heading off on his travels again.

The Charlie Fellowes-trained eight-year-old was placed in the Melbourne Cup for the third successive year when he last ran in November, being beaten three-quarters of a length in third by Twilight Payment.

Given a short break since, Fellowes reports Prince Of Arran to have put on plenty of condition and feels a run before travelling to Saudi Arabia and Dubai may also give him other options.

“He’s going to Saudi Arabia, provided everything is fine,” said Fellowes.

“He’s come back in looking too well, but he didn’t go out until late. He’s come back with a proper belly on him, so I’ll have to get some proper work into him.

“I think I’ll give him a prep run before Saudi, which I’ve not done before, but I just feel he needs it this year, so he might go to Kempton for a Fast-Track Qualifier over two miles in early February.

“That is two weeks before the Saudi Cup and it would work absolutely perfectly, so he’d run there, go to Saudi the following week and then off to Dubai.

“I just feel he needs the run this year. He loves Kempton, two miles there is perfect for him and should he win that – who knows what will happen with the pandemic – but it gives us the option of Finals Day if he gets qualified.

“It will open up a few doors as well as helping me get him fitter.”

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.”