Real World and Magna Cours carry Godolphin’s hopes in the $20 million Group 1 Saudi Cup, the highlight of the eight-race card at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh on Saturday.
Saeed bin Suroor’s Real World has been a revelation having registered five wins on the trot in his last five starts as he bids for his biggest career prize in 11 starts.
The five-year-old son of Dark Angel is returning to the dirt surface having won all his last five races on the turf but Bin Suroor is confident his versatility in handling both surfaces equally well.
“We had to run Real World on the turf in the Zabeel Mile [at Meydan on January 28] to get him fit and ready for this race,” the Emirati said.
“He won well that day, when I felt that he was just 90 per cent fit. He won over a mile in Dubai but I know that nine furlongs here will be better for him.
“Stall four is a great draw. Real World always shows a good turn of foot and can jump from the gates. Frankie Dettori knows the horse, having won on him in France last year, and it would be great to see him run well.”
Magny Cours has run well on the dirt at Meydan in 2021, finishing third behind Mystic Guide in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup.
The son of Medaglia d’Oro subsequently enjoyed a successful European campaign, taking second in the Group 2 Prix Dollar and flying home to win the Group 3 Prix Perth, before coming home a close third in the Group 3 Bahrain International Trophy.
“Magny Cours travelled out very well and has adapted well to his surroundings in Saudi Arabia,” his trainer Andre Fabre said.
“They are taking excellent care of him out there and he heads into this in good form. We are happy with stall seven and are looking forward to it.”
The Saudi Cup has drawn some of the biggest names in the world and the maximum allowed field of 14 that includes last year’s winner Mishriff and eight Grade 1 winners among others.
The royal blues are strongly represented in five of the seven races for the thoroughbreds, including the pair in the Saudi Cup.
They have a trio in the Group 3 Saudi Derby. Charlie Appleby has a duo - Noble Truth, last season’s Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere runner-up, and Sovereign Prince.
“Noble Truth is probably one of the classier horses in the race based on what he achieved as a two-year-old,” Appleby said of the Kingman colt.
“It was always the plan to come straight here and his preparation has gone well. We are confident that he will handle conditions and will be very competitive if he brings the best of his form to the table.
“Sovereign Prince has progressed throughout the winter and earned his place in a race like this. We feel that he should be able to cope with the surface and has plenty of race experience, which he can hopefully use to good effect.”
Bin Suroor’s Island Falcon completes the Godolphin challenge in the race. He arrives in Riyadh after victory in the Jumeirah Derby Trial at the Dubai World Cup Carnival five weeks ago.
“Island Falcon won nicely in Dubai and took the journey to Saudi Arabia well,” Bin Suroor said.
“He is a horse who tries hard in his races and we wanted to give him a chance on the dirt to see how he goes on the surface.”
Bin Suroor’s Passion And Glory carries the Godolphin hopes in the Group 3 Neom Turf Cup and Appleby’s Naval Crown fights for the Group 3 Turf Sprint.
The Dubai racing operation has a trio in the Group 3 Red Sea Turf Handicap, with Bin Suroor’s duo Desert Fore and Dubai Future, and Appleby’s Siskany.
“We have been delighted with how Siskany came out of the Al Khail Trophy, when the step up in trip produced marked improvement,” Appleby said of the four year old Dubawi gelding.
“He goes into this in good shape and we feel that this distance is well within his compass. If he can back up his Dubai run, we feel he is going to be very competitive.”
Bin Suroor is confident both Dubai Future and Desert Fire to follow up on their successes in Dubai.
“They are super fit heading into this,” he said. “I think this trip will be fine for both of them, although it depends on how fast they go. If they go steady, like when Gifts Of Gold won last year, it will give them both a good chance of finishing strongly.”