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Dettori wary of Dubai Turf hopeful Lord North’s absence

Frankie Dettori admits Lord North’s lengthy lay-off is a concern in the Dubai Turf, but still expects the British raider to put his best foot forward at Meydan.

The five-year-old has been off the track since finishing a creditable fourth when trying a mile-and-a-half for the first time at the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland back in November.

Lord North, who landed the Prince of Wales’s Stakes for John Gosden at Royal Ascot last year, switches back in distance for Saturday’s Group One – but with the likes of David O’Meara’s Jebel Hatta winner Lord Glitters and the Godolphin pair of Al Suhail and Land Of Legends having had prep runs, Dettori thinks his 140-day absence could be a worry.

He told his Sporting Index blog: “He was by no means disgraced in finishing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf over 12 furlongs, and he now steps back to nine furlongs – which is the same distance he won the Cambridgeshire over in 2019.

“The concern is that he’s had almost five months off the track, but when I rode him on Thursday morning he felt in good shape.

“John (Gosden) is the best, and he showed with Mishriff in the Saudi Cup that he can get one ready for a big race like this despite the break.

“He’s the highest-rated horse in the race, so obviously goes there with a big chance – although horses like Lord Glitters, Al Suhail and Land Of Legends have all been running well recently and have to be respected.”

Lord North was due to run at Meydan last March before the Dubai World Cup card was called off because of the escalating Covid-19 pandemic.

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Thady Gosden, who now trains in partnership with his father, added: “He actually came out last year, but unfortunately because of Covid the World Cup had to be cancelled. He came out, had a nice little holiday for three days and went back.

“He ran well at Haydock at the start of the year. He just didn’t handle the heavy ground at Ascot on Champions Day, but he’s got solid enough form and we’ll see.

“His mind is still on it, he still loves racing, so hopefully he’ll continue (to improve) and he looks well too.”

Simon Crisford’s pair of Court House and Epic Hero, plus the Marco Botti-trained Felix, complete a strong British challenge.

New Treasure represents the Dettori-Gosden axis in the UAE Derby, but he has a length and three-quarters to find with Pink Kamehameha on their recent Saudi Derby meeting.

Gosden said: “He ran well (in Riyadh), he’s a different type of horse to Mishriff (who ran in last year’s Saudi Derby) – different physically, but he ran well there. It probably wasn’t as competitive as the UAE Derby by any stretch of the imagination, but he comes here in good form.”

Ryan Moore rides Japanese runner Takeru Pegasus in the Group Two heat, with Soft Whisper and Rebel’s Romance representing Godolphin.

Dettori teams up with the Charlie Hills-trained Equilateral once again in the Al Quoz Sprint.

He rode the six-year-old victory on his initial Meydan run in January, but Andrea Atzeni was aboard when he won a Group two last time out.

Dettori takes over again in this six-furlong heat, but he is well aware Space Blues will take all the beating as Charlie Appleby’s charge seeks a fifth win on the bounce, encompassing last year’s Prix Maurice de Gheest.

He said: “He has a bit to find on ratings with Space Blues, but there’s no doubt he enjoys his time out in Dubai.

“Meydan is a very flat, slick track – and that suits him, because he likes to free-wheel along.

“Space Blues obviously stands out, but he’s going back in distance, so that has to be a question mark.

“All of Equilateral’s best form is over five furlongs, but given the nature of the track I’d be hopeful he can handle the step up in trip.”

Appleby hopes the fact Space Blues is now the “finished article” will offset the change in trip.

“It is a different ball game for Space Blues, taking on the real sprinters over a straight six furlongs, but we feel that he is the horse to beat,” Appleby told www.godolphin.com.

“He was fresh and keen when he ran over this course and distance last year and ended up doing everything the wrong way round. He is a five-year-old now, and the finished article.”

Space Blues proves out of this world

Space Blues made a winning return to action after a six-month break with a narrow victory in the stc Turf Sprint in Riyadh.

Winner of all four of his four starts in the summer, culminating in a first Group One success in the Prix Maurice de Gheest, the Charlie Appleby-trained five-year-old looks set for another lucrative campaign.

Krispen made the early running and was pressed by the former Richard Hannon-trained Urban Icon, who set sail for home in the straight.

Space Blues shrugged off his stablemate Glorious Journey, but had to knuckle down for William Buick to catch Urban Icon and last year’s winner, Dark Power.

He managed it in the shadow of the post to score a shade cosily in the end from Dark Power, ridden by Frankie Dettori, with Urban Icon just behind in third.

Appleby said: “Absolutely delighted with that. We knew he was a class horse coming into the race and he had a lovely draw. I could see (the ground) was a bit loose for him and our concern was that he might just spin a bit on it, but he’s come back on the bridle turning in like a class horse and put the race to bed at the right time.

“He travels for fun, watching the race there. I’ll be interested to see what William has to say because obviously Dubai World Cup night (Al Quoz Sprint) has to be taken into consideration.”

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Buick said: “We had a great run through. He broke well and I didn’t want to be too close to the pace. The pace was perfect. It wasn’t too hot or too slow. I followed Frankie before the split in the straight. It was how I hoped the race would pan out. He was the best horse and I didn’t want to go for any heroics.

“You’d imagine this would set him for the Al Quoz.”

Gifts Of Gold sprang a 33-1 surprise when taking the spoils in the Red Sea Turf Handicap.

The lesser fancied of two Godolphin runners, Saeed bin Suroor’s six-year-old came with a surging run to assert a furlong and put the race to bed in the hands of Pat Cosgrave.

Gifts Of Gold had been well-beaten over mile at Meydan last month on his first run since since September, but bounced back from that over this one mile and seven furlongs.

Last year’s winner Call The Wind and Mildenberger set the early pace, until the complexion of the race changed at the top of the straight when plenty of horses were in contention.

Gifts Of Gold’s move proved decisive and the outsider took a handy advantage. Andrew Balding’s Spanish Mission looked dangerous, but had to settle for second place.

Godolphin’s first string, the Appleby-trained Secret Advisor, stayed on for third place.

Pink Kamehameha struck a blow for Japan when landing the Al Rajhi Bank Saudi Derby.

The three-year-old colt, trained by Hideyuki Mori and ridden by Keita Tosaki, proved too strong for opposition from Europe, America and the Middle East.

Soft Whisper, Godolphin’s UAE 1000 Guineas winner, was up with the pace from the start but had nothing left in the final furlong as Pink Kamehameha shot clear.

Steve Asmussen’s American raider Cowan finished strongly to take second place, just ahead of Dettori on the John Gosden-trained New Treasure.

Mori and Tosaki went agonisingly close to a double, only for Buick to deliver fellow Japanese raider Copano Kicking with precision and collar Matera Sky on the line in the Saudi Arabian Airlines Riyadh Dirt Sprint.

It was a repeat of 12 months ago for Matera Sky, when he was agonisingly beaten by New York Central after holding a clear lead.

Buick said: “It’s a big win. It’s the first time I’ve won on a Japanese horse outside of Japan.

“I’ve been to Japan many times and I’ve ridden a lot of winners there, but I never won one on elsewhere. I’m very grateful to the trainer and owner for giving me the ride on this horse.”

British challengers Oxted and Brad The Brief were unable to get in a real blow.

Setback rules out Foret for Space Blues

Space Blues has suffered a season-ending setback, trainer Charlie Appleby has announced.

The four-year-old has enjoyed a fantastic 2020 campaign, winning each of his four starts, graduating from Listed success at Haydock in June to winning the Group One Prix Maurice de Gheest on his last start.

Space Blues added Group Three glory at ParisLongchamp and Group Two gold at Goodwood in the interim, but he will now miss his intended outing in the Prix de la Foret on Sunday week.

Appleby told www.godolphin.com: “We are obviously very disappointed that we will not see Space Blues line up in the Prix de la Foret next month, but look forward to seeing him back on the racecourse in the new year.”