Saudi Arabian Dirt Likely for Oxted

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Oxted | Racingfotos.com

Group 1 winner Oxted (GB) (Mayson {GB}) is likely for the six-furlong Riyadh Dirt Sprint instead of the 1351 Turf Sprint at Riyadh in Saudi Arabia on Feb. 20. A winner of the G3 Abernant S. last June, the bay gelding added the G1 July Cup at Newmarket one month later. After undergoing wind surgery, Oxted resumed with a fifth in the Oct. 17 QIPCO British Champions Sprint S.

“At the moment we are favouring the dirt really because it's six furlongs,” said trainer Roger Teal, whose son Harry will accompany his stable star to Saudi Arabia, at a Saudi Cup press conference. “Obviously, it's an unknown surface for us but because it's a flat six furlongs I think that is where we are going to go. He's a good-moving horse. He likes the top of the ground and handles all sorts of ground.

“He trains on an all-weather surface every day, so I'm just hoping. The reports are very good about the dirt track in Saudi. That gives me confidence. There's not too much kickback apparently. As long as there wasn't going to be tons of kickback, I think we're going to be happy to run him on it.”

He added, “The timing of the race was good for us. It was enough time to give him a break and then prepare him for the season ahead. We can go to Saudi, come back, maybe go to Dubai for World Cup night if things go to plan. We can then prepare for Ascot and another go at the July Cup. We'll be a little bit wiser after the event. He's pretty straightforward and takes things in his stride, but you don't know until you do it. He should be fine.”

Regularly ridden by Cieren Fallon, Jr., the now 5-year-old gelding would reunite with Fallon in Saudi Arabia.

“He definitely gets on so well with the horse,” said Teal. “Hopefully when Cieren's available he can ride him whenever. This horse has got good gate speed. He travels strong. He's got early pace so I think the pace of the race will suit him fine. The pace beat us at Ascot [on Champions Day] last year. There wasn't enough pace for him.”

“Harry will go with him out there,” he added, but was non-committal on his own attendance. “You can't make any firm plans yet, but we'd like to be there if we can. He's pretty much on track. He's been stepping up weekly. We're very happy. We'll just keep tipping away with what we're doing and get him there in good shape.

“If we're allowed to I'm looking to getting him to Wolverhampton just to have one good sprint round the turn because he's never run round a bend. That's another thing we've got to find out about him. He's in good shape. He had a short break after Ascot. He had a month away and came back looking tremendous. He's really blossomed through the winter.”

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