01 February 2023

Hills planning dual assault on Turf Sprint prize

01 February 2023

Charlie Hills’ stable stalwart Pogo will be joined by Garrus in the Group Three 1351 Turf Sprint at the Saudi Cup meeting on February 25.

The seven-year-old entire Pogo was ultra-consistent last season, winning two Group Threes as well as the Group Two Challenge Stakes in October, booking his ticket to the Breeders’ Cup.

A seven-furlong specialist, he ran over a mile at Keeneland but will be back over his favourite trip in Saudi Arabia in a race in which he finished fifth 12 months ago.

“Both horses are in great form and I couldn’t be much happier with them,” said Hills. “The plan has always been to start both in the race in Saudi and I’m really looking forward to running them as they seem in really rude health.

“He (Pogo) was absolutely brilliant last year and kept a really solid level of form the whole way through the campaign.

“I’ve always believed he was a really good horse, as he’s always shown that at home and it’s great that he’s translated his work on the gallops to the track. He’s got a great constitution, takes his racing really well, and just didn’t stop improving.

“Some horses just take a bit longer to develop and he might be one of those. He’s a real trier and there’s no doubt that last season showed he’s improved as he’s got older.

“The track and trip should really play to his strengths out there. He loves fast ground and hopefully this year’s race will be run a bit more to suit. We’ll probably ride him a touch more patiently this time and with any luck he’ll be bang there.”

Garrus was beaten a length into third by Highfield Princess in the Prix Maurice de Gheest but only ran once afterwards, when well beaten on Champions Day.

“The trip and track should really suit him,” Hills said. “We’ve been really pleased with his run-up to the race, and it looks a really good place to start him off this year.

“The prize money is so good out there and given it’s a race we think should play to his strengths, we’ve had it lined up for a while for him.”

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