John and Thady Gosden’s Mishriff could get close to £20 million in career prize money if he manages a repeat win from out wide in the Saudi Cup this weekend, while the super-rich undercard in Riyadh provides us with a few betting opportunities.
The Winter Derby also takes place at Lingfield, while it is an important weekend of jumping action too at Kempton and Newcastle where we have selections.
It could be a bumper day for the Gosden team as their Group 1 winner Lord North is favourite for the Winter Derby.
It’s a busy Saturday for us with eight selections in total, beginning out in Saudi Arabia with a fine 1m2½f Group 3 event.
12.45 Riyadh (Neom Turf Cup – Group 3) – PYLEDRIVER
William Muir and Chris Grassick’s Pyledriver is an admirable sort, a fine international traveller and a good earner to boot.
The five-year-old is very much still heading towards his peak despite being a Great Voltigeur and Coronation Cup winner and conditions around this track should be ideal for him to be able to show off his best form.
He can go one better than when he was beaten just a length in the Hong Kong Vase back in December under jockey Martin Dwyer to give the team another huge win.
1.25 Riyadh (1351 Turf Sprint – Group 3) – NAVAL CROWN
Although drawn in stall 14, Godolphin’s Naval Crown has a fine opportunity to join the ranks of Charlie Appleby’s seemingly many seven-furlong stars.
After a fine run in last season’s 2000 Guineas, Naval Crown was narrowly beaten by top-class stablemate Creative Force in the Jersey Stakes but on better ground at Meydan last month he began his year with a comfortable yet taking Group 2 win.
James Doyle takes the ride and he should be sitting pretty before pressing the button with a furlong to go.
1.30 Lingfield (Hever Sprint Stakes – Listed Race) – EXALTED ANGEL
There is plenty of speed on show in this Listed event despite the small, six-runner field. Mondammej has plenty of toe, as does Tone The Barone who is a big danger.
Lord Riddiford has done us a favour before and he is of course feared today, however the one I like best in this contest is Exalted Angel.
Karl Burke’s gelding was unlucky in running last time and should appreciate the drop back down to five furlongs.
1.50 Kempton (Adonis Juvenile Hurdle – Grade 2) – KNIGHT SALUTE
Milton Harris’s unbeaten juvenile Knight Salute has remained at a backable price this week, which I for one am surprised about.
Not only us he four from four over hurdles, but he is improving in lumps between runs and should reach the sort of level now that would see him have too much power for Impulsive One, Graystone and Pleasant Man.
2.05 Riyadh (Red Sea Turf Handicap – Group 3) – SISKANY
Back to the Middle East we go and a chance to jump on board the Siskany train. Charlie Appleby’s up-and-coming stayer is four from 8 on the turf, but he's been especially strong and progressive since having a gelding operation last August.
He’s been kept relatively busy since then, winning at Newmarket, being sent to a Group 3, finishing second at Kempton and then winning last time out at Meydan.
He was a beaten odds-on favourite at Kempton, but his run there was important as it is all part of the learning curve for him while his win over Alignak last time out was very impressive. He should be comfortably ahead of his handicap mark and can do some damage before heading back to Dubai and then onto Europe for the summer.
2.25 Kempton (Pendil Novices’ Chase – Grade 2) – PIC D’ORHY
Minella Drama is all the rage with Brian Hughes on board, but speed could play a crucial part in this contest and with that in mind, I much prefer Paul Nicholls’ Pic D’Orhy.
The seven-year-old may well be able to do some damage between fences, Harry Cobden no doubt keeping an eye all the while on Millers Bank, Minella Drama and main danger Fantastic Lady.
Pic D’Orhy’s key piece of form is his nine-length win at Ascot in December at Grade 2 level when he was excellent ahead of Faivoir, and though he was less impressive last time it should prove to be a one-off and he remains progressive overall.
3.00 Kempton (Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 2) – ICEO
Shallwehaveonemore and Aucunrisque should be popular in the market and they are both dangers for sure, however there is plenty to recommend youngster Iceo in the race he is backed to score for the Nicholls team.
Once again, it’s the pace angle I like here, Iceo at these weights having recorded some good figures even on softer ground.
In fact Iceo’s most impressive run was over this course and distance which is a fact we cannot afford to ignore, so back at the scene of his fine win in December he can give Harry Cobden another winner.
Moriko De Vassy had other options this weekend and is certainly not out of this, while Shallwehaveonemore is the rightful favourite for the Moore team.
3.15 Newcastle (Eider Handicap Chase – Class 2) – DANILO D’AIRY
This is a good, competitive renewal of the Eider Chase with 17 runners going to post.
History Of Fashion represents the Irish form and will be well supported on the track no doubt, while Éclair Surf, Court Master, Domaine De L’Isle and Checkitout would all make the shortlist.
The one I like best however is Danilo D’Airy. Robert Bevis’ charge, although pulled-up last time over hurdles, is unbeaten this sphere and appears to be improving rapidly.
Not only is he getting better but he also clearly appreciates a trip, so while he has an extra mile or so to cover today it may well be that he is simply all the better for it. Gavin Sheehan takes the ride and he is just the right jockey to guide Danilo D’Airy round Newcastle to victory.