Mishriff Bests Charlatan In Saudi Cup; Knicks Go Fourth

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Mishriff wins the Saudi Cup | Coady Photography/VidHorse

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The $20-million Saudi Cup had been billed as a showdown between the brilliant American Grade I winners Charlatan (Speightstown) and Knicks Go (Paynter), but when the dust settled on the world's richest horse race it was the John Gosden-trained, Prince Faisal homebred Mishriff (Ire) (Make Believe {GB}) who stole the show to a raucous reception in his owner/breeders homeland.

Breaking smartly from gate 12 under 21-year-old jockey David Egan, the G1 Prix du Jockey Club winner Mishriff-who also ventured to Riyadh to finish second in the Saudi Derby on this card last year-was encouraged to keep in contact with the pace as Charlatan and Knicks Go locked horns. It was the GI Malibu S. winner Charlatan under Mike Smith who came out best in the early skirmishes, but the GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational victor Knicks Go under Joel Rosario refused to let his rival have things his own way, keeping close tabs on Charlatan's inside while Mishriff and Extra Elusive (GB) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}) waited in the second flight of runners on the outside with Tacitus (Tapit) on the rail. Knicks Go cut the corner and put his head in front rounding the turn, but that lead was short lived with Charlatan re-rallying at the quarter pole. It was at that stage that Knicks Go cried enough, but Charlatan's uncontested advantage was short lived as Mishriff had broken away from the pack and was rapidly gaining ground. Charlatan was game enough to hold off Mishriff until the 100 metre mark, but at last the chestnut gave way to the dark bay, and Mishriff hit the wire a length the best. It was a great result for the Saudis with the locally trained longshot Great Scot (GB) (Requinto {Ire}) getting up for third, with Knicks Go settling for fourth.

“Unbelievable,” said Egan after putting in a ride beyond his years. “I've been dreaming all my life of winning a race like this. Last year Mishriff was always a horse who seemed to jump slow; maybe it was just through immaturity. Last year in the Saudi Derby he jumped slow behind the Japanese horse to finish second–I thought to myself that if he had jumped on terms he nearly would have won last year. But he's matured throughout the year and Mr Gosden had him primed for today. He looks a million dollars–well, 10 million dollars.

“He jumped very well today, as good as the two American horses. I squeezed him on for the first 50 yards and I was actually surprised how well he went, through the back straight I was on Mike Smith's heels and he was really taking me into it. I got pressed on the rail when we started turning and that was the only worrying sign I had, when they started quickening whether I was going to get back rolling again.

“Once he ran second here last year I am sure it was on the Prince and Mr Gosden's minds to come here; he had such a good season in Europe last year and this is in Prince Faisal's back garden, it's where he lives, so it was a no-brainer. He's taken on top-class horses from all round the world and proven how good he is.

“My dad [John Egan] is helping out with the Bahrain horses and riding for Fawzi Nass in the mornings, so it is very special to have him here. If it wasn't for him I wouldn't be the rider or the person I am today. He's done everything he can to help me in my career, pushed me and trained me hard. This one's for him.”

Speaking via Zoom from Newmarket, Gosden said, “Full marks to my team. I'm here in Newmarket. His owner/breeder always wanted him to come back for the Saudi Cup. He ran well here last year and through the year except for at Ascot on bottomless ground–he didn't like that ground. Otherwise he has a superb record. The team here did a very good job with him through the winter and then Thady [Gosden, son and assistant trainer] and the team did a great job out there.”

Mishriff made three starts at two, finishing fourth and third in novice races at Yarmouth and Newbury before graduating by 10 lengths at Nottingham when stepped up to 1700 metres and partnered by Egan, Prince Faisal's retained rider, for the first time. Egan was again in the saddle next out when Mishriff finished second in the Saudi Derby, and again when the colt won the Listed Newmarket S. by four lengths. Covid restrictions, however, meant that Egan couldn't travel to France for Mishriff's summer assignments, and he was replaced by Ioritz Mendizabal and Frankie Dettori, respectively, for Mishriff's victories in the Prix du Jockey Club and the G2 Prix Guillaume d'Ornano. Dettori was once again in the saddle when Mishriff checked in eighth of 10 over the soft going when last seen in the G1 Qipco Champion S. on Oct. 17.

Gosden continued, “I think there are very few horses that can switch surfaces like that. I would have to say enormous thanks to the whole of the Saudi Jockey Club for putting on such an amazing day's racing. The turf track is superb–I was blown away by how good it was when it had only been laid down a few months before when I was there last year. And I have always been told by the top American jockeys and by Frankie Dettori that this is the best main dirt sand track in the world, and I think that is very much proven today that a turf horse can actually switch to it. So many of the tracks are too loose with horrible kickback, but this is a very good test for the Thoroughbred.”

Asked whether Mishriff will be stretched out to 2400 metres this summer in Europe, Gosden added, “He will stay. I think in the end he nailed them because he could go the pace and then see it out to the end, and that was a hard-run mile and an eighth. We'll see. Thady will come back with his reports and we will discuss it all with Prince Faisal and take it a step at a time after a flight like that and training through the winter. We'll see how he is when he gets back before we make any grand plans.”

Charlatan's connections reflected on their colt's performance after, for the first time in his career, he failed to cross the finish line first. Jockey Mike Smith said, “He's just so lightly raced this year and the way the racetrack was playing all day, I got a little concerned because speed wasn't holding all day long. He's only ran once [this season] and it was a seven-eighths race. He got really tired. If he'd had two races, I think he'd win.

Trainer Bob Baffert added, “I was very proud of his effort. Going in, we thought he would run his race. Turning for home, we knew they were going pretty fast early. He's a fast horse, but that stretch–I'm glad we don't have any stretches like that in America.”

Pedigree Notes

Prince Faisal, a close relative of Prince Bandar bin Khalid al Faisal, the chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, has done a massive service to the European breeding industry through his Nawara Stud in producing Invincible Spirit (Ire) and Kodiac (GB) from his G1 Prix de Diane winner Rafha (GB) (Kris {GB}), and it is from that mare that Mishriff descends, she being his third dam. Mishriff's second dam Acts Of Grace (Bahri) is one of three stakes winners out of Rafha, and Acts Of Grace is now best known as the dam of Massarra (GB) (Danehill), who was bought by Coolmore for 600,000gns in 2009 and whose five stakes winners include the G1 Gran Criterium winner and stakes producer Nayarra (Ire) (Cape Cross {Ire}), G2 Superlative S. winner and young Coolmore sire Gustav Klimt (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), and G3 Silver Flash S. scorer Wonderfully (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}).

Mishriff's dam is the winning Raven's Pass mare Contradict (GB), who has thus far outdone herself in the breeding shed with her first three foals being stakes horses. Her first was the Listed Prix de Saint-Patrick victor Orbaan (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}), and her second the G3 Craven S. and G3 Supreme S. second and G3 Thoroughbred S. third Momkin (Ire) (Bated Breath {GB}), who is now trained locally in Saudi and was sixth in Saturday's stc 1351 Turf Sprint. Mishriff is Contradict's last reported foal.

Another branch of the family includes the G1 Pretty Polly S. winner Chinese White (Ire) (Dalakhani {Ire}), who is out of a half-sister to Rafha, and the dual Australian Group 1-winning 2-year-old Pride Of Dubai (Aus) (Street Cry {Ire}), who has gotten off to such a good start with his first crops in both hemispheres.

Mishriff is from the first crop of the G1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains and G1 Prix de la Foret winner Make Believe (GB) (Makfi {GB}), who stands at Ballylinch Stud for €15,000. Mishriff is Make Believe's lone Group 1 winner and one of five stakes winners for the sire.

 

WATCH: Mishriff upsets the Americans in the Saudi Cup

 

Saturday, King Abdulaziz, Saudi Arabia
SAUDI CUP (Cond.), $20,000,000, King Abdulaziz, 2-20, 4yo/up, 1800m, 1:49.59, ft.
1–MISHRIFF (IRE), 126, c, 4, by Make Believe (GB)
1st Dam: Contradict (GB), by Raven's Pass
2nd Dam: Acts of Grace, by Bahri
3rd Dam: Rafha (GB), by Kris (GB)
O-Prince A A Faisal; B-Nawara Stud Limited; T-John Gosden; J-David Egan; $10,000,000. Lifetime Record: Hwt. 3yo-Eur, Eng & Fr at 9.5-11f, G1SW-Fr, SW-Eng, 9-5-1-1, $11,047,442. *1/2 to Orbaan (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}), SW-Fr; and Momkin (Ire) (Bated Breath {GB}), MGSP-Eng, $131,343.
2–Charlatan, 126, c, 4, Speightstown–Authenticity, by Quiet American. ($700,000 Ylg '18 KEESEP). 'TDN Rising Star' O-SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Stonestreet Stables LLC, Fred Hertrich III, John D Fielding & Golconda Stables; B-Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC (KY); T-Bob Baffert; J-Mike Smith; $3,500,000.
3–Great Scot (GB), 126, g, 5, Requinto (Ire)–La Rosiere, by Mr. Greeley. (€2,500 RNA Ylg '17 TATNOV). O-Prince Faisal Bin Khalid Bin Abdulaziz; B-Clyne Mound Thompson; T-Abdullah Mushriff; J-Adel Alfouraidi; $2,000,000.
Margins: 1, 6HF, 1.
Also Ran: Knicks Go, Sleepy Eyes Todd, Military Law (GB), Tacitus, Bangkok (Ire), Chuwa Wizard (Jpn), Derevo (GB), Max Player, Global Giant (GB), Extra Elusive (GB), Simsir (Ire).

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