Gosden To Saddle French Classic Winner Mishriff In Saudi Cup, Hopes For Wide Draw

Trainer John Gosden has his sights set on the $20 million Saudi Cup with last year’s Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club hero Mishriff. The 4-year-old was runner-up in The Saudi Derby – run on the same dirt track as the world’s most valuable race – at the inaugural meeting last year, before returning to Europe to complete a summer hat-trick of big-race wins.

Gosden, based in Newmarket, said at a Saudi Cup press conference: “Mishriff has always been a grand horse and he worked nicely going into The Saudi Derby last year. It was his first time on the dirt, so you never know but he did have the benefit of a wide draw.

“I think he’s very much a 2000m (1 1/4 miles) horse – he’s got a great stride, great tactical speed and a powerful finish. This is 1800m (1 1/8 miles) and, if you remember from last year, the American horses break – that’s their game.

“They’re very fast over the first 400m (half mile) and you really don’t want to be getting in behind all of that. If you get a basin full of dirt in your face, that’s what stops turf horses switching to the dirt as they’re not used to taking all that kickback. That’s why a wide draw would be advantageous.

“He’s not a horse who requires a massive amount of work so, to that extent, he’s the right type to be getting ready so early in the year.”

Gosden, who is also planning to send Global Giant over to run in the $1million Middle Distance Turf Cup and New Treasure in the $1.5million Saudi Derby on Feb. 20, was suitably impressed with the first Saudi Cup meeting last year.

He said: “The horses were looked after properly in every way – the facilities were great. The main track is exceptional – the American jockeys always say it’s the best they ride on anywhere – and the turf course completely blew me away, it was stunning. We all had a superb experience.”

British trainer Roger Teal will run last year’s July Cup winner Oxted on dirt for the first time in the $1.5million Riyadh Dirt Sprint.

He said: “He looks magnificent – he’s really blossomed throughout the winter. His work has been stepping up weekly and we’re very happy. He’s got early pace – he travels strongly. It was a strongly-run race last year and that will suit him. We’re hoping we’ll be allowed to take him to Wolverhampton to have one good sprint around a turn as he’s never raced around a bend.”

Dark Power, shock winner of last year’s $1million 1351 Turf Sprint under Frankie Dettori, is expected to defend his crown for Bahrain trainer Allan Smith.

Smith said: “He finished third in his prep race last week but it was over a straight 1200m and he couldn’t get much cover. After that he’s pretty much spot on. I shall have a quiet word with Frankie but I’m almost sure the ‘Italian Stallion’ will be on board again.”

The post Gosden To Saddle French Classic Winner Mishriff In Saudi Cup, Hopes For Wide Draw appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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