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.”

‘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.”

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.”

Mishriff to step up for Sheema Classic challenge

Mishriff is to move up to a mile and a half for the first time in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan this month.

Winner of the world’s most valuable race, the Saudi Cup, on dirt last month, Mishriff will be reverting back to turf for the $6million prize.

It had been thought if Mishriff did return to the Middle East it would be for the Dubai World Cup on the same card, but connections have opted for the longer race rather than sticking to a mile and a quarter.

The John Gosden-trained colt is reported to have taken his trip to Saudi Arabia very well, and it is all systems go for the Sheema Classic on March 27.

“John always had in the back of his mind trying him over a mile and a half at the end of this year,” said owner Prince Faisal’s racing manager Ted Voute.

“I think the opportunity presented itself. He asked the Prince to consider running him, and the Prince basically left it up to John.

“It’s exciting and something to look forward at the end of the month.

“John has won that race a couple of times, and he’s obviously pretty good at getting a horse ready for it.”

What happens there could influence Mishriff’s plans for the rest of the year.

“He hasn’t got many races to go for before Royal Ascot. John thought he can have quite a big breather after this race,” Voute added.

“We might change some of the races we go for, depending on the outcome of Dubai.”

Mishriff camp eye Juddmonte International as long-term target

The Juddmonte International at York in August is likely to be a prime target for Mishriff following his exciting victory in the Saudi Cup.

Owner Prince Faisal has personal reasons to target the Group One over an extended 10 furlongs on the Knavesmire with the John Gosden-trained colt.

There is a family connection because he was related to the founder of Juddmonte Farms, Khalid Abdullah, who died last month – and of course the race has a tremendous worldwide reputation.

“I think the Prince, for many reasons, has his eye on the Juddmonte,” said the owner’s racing manager Ted Voute.

“With winning the Juddmonte, you tend to be the highest-rated horse in the world – or thereabouts.

“I think he is keen to prove he is as good a horse as there is – and he was related to Prince Khalid.

“He’s got no interest in selling him at the moment. He wants to enjoy the racing. Ultimately he’ll go to stud.

“John Gosden and the Prince will talk about plans.”

The top races over a mile and a quarter and maybe a mile and a half will come under discussion after Mishriff showed his versatility on Saturday by beating two of the best American dirt horses in Charlatan and Knicks Go to claim the world’s richest race.

The Dubai World Cup, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the Breeders’ Cup Classic are also certain to come into the conversation between trainer and the owner-breeder.

“At this stage, I don’t think he’ll race until Royal Ascot if he goes there,” added Voute.

“The Dubai World Cup is only a few weeks away. He’s in it, he’ll be invited – and we’ve got to have that discussion.

“The Prince is keen to add a domestic Group One. He won in France (Prix du Jockey Club) – and if we are going to make him attractive as a stallion you need to add a domestic Group One to the CV. I would suggest the Juddmonte would be it.

“He is building a very interesting CV. There aren’t many horses who can win a French Derby and then a race on dirt over a furlong shorter.

“He did not go for the Arc last year, because the Prince wanted to see the horse run on his home turf as he hadn’t seen him for a year, and that has come out very successfully.

“What could be up for discussion is the Arc if the horse is sound and well. You could consider the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“The Prince raced the sire (Make Believe), and Mishriff is the fourth generation, so it meant a lot to him.”

Saudi Cup contender Mishriff in mighty form

Mishriff’s connections are delighted with last year’s French Derby hero as he goes for glory in the world’s richest race, the Saudi Cup, in Riyadh.

The John Gosden-trained colt takes on two of America’s best dirt horses in the Brad Cox-trained Pegasus World Cup winner Knicks Go and Bob Baffert’s lightly-raced Grade One star Charlatan as well as other classy performers in Saturday’s $20 million showpiece.

One thing Mishriff has in his favour is that he has had experience of Riyadh’s dirt surface, having finished second in the Saudi Derby at this meeting 12 months ago.

Mishriff proved himself to be a leading three-year-old when winning his next three races, including the Prix du Jockey Club before running below par in the Champion Stakes at Ascot on his final start.

The Make Believe colt is reported to be in tip-top shape to start his four-year-old campaign.

“Everything’s good. I saw him this morning. David Egan rode him round the race track with John Gosden’s other horses Global Giant and New Treasure,” said Ted Voute, racing manager to owner Prince Faisal.

“He stretched his legs, and it went very well.

“Mishriff didn’t do anything strenuous. He changed his legs perfectly going into the turn, which was nice to see.

“He did everything he was asked. He’s bouncing and he looks really well. He looks as well as I’ve seen him.

“He really enjoys it and he’s posing for the cameras. He likes it out here and seems to thrive on travel.

“We’re just looking forward to the big day.”

Andrew Balding saddles Bangkok, who is trying a dirt surface for the first time.

The five-year-old had a confidence-boosting win at Lingfield this month.

“He’s had a relatively busy winter and seems in great form,” said the Kingsclere trainer.

“Obviously it’s a big ask against the best horses around, and it’s his first time on a surface like that, but he’s in great shape.

“He’s a horse we’ve always thought a lot of.”

Extra Elusive is Hollie Doyle's mount in the Saudi Cup
Extra Elusive is Hollie Doyle’s mount in the Saudi Cup (Tim Goode/PA)

Extra Elusive finished two places ahead of Mishriff when sixth in the Champion Stakes on his first try in Group One company.

The Roger Charlton-trained gelding had earned his chance at the top level with a pair of Group Three victories.

Extra Elusive will be ridden by Hollie Doyle in her capacity as retained jockey to owner Imad Alsagar. She is hoping for a good run if he can overcome a wide draw and act on the surface.

“I’ve got drawn 14 – which has its pros and cons,” she said.

“I’m not sure how he’ll handle the dirt and the kickback – but he ran well in the Champion Stakes, so hopefully he can run a nice race.”