25 February 2023

Mostahdaf powers to Neom Turf Cup victory

25 February 2023

John and Thady Gosden’s Mostahdaf turned the Neom Turf Cup into a procession in Riyadh.

The race was supposed to see George Boughey’s Royal Ascot winner Missed The Cut announce himself on the world stage as part of the Saudi Cup undercard, but for the second time on a trip away from home he fluffed his lines.

Slowly away under Oisin Murphy, he had to circle the field to get a handy position but by the home turn he had little left to give, fading into fourth.

Mostahdaf, on the other hand, was always in the perfect spot under Jim Crowley.

Last seen finishing stone last in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on soft ground, he was much more at home on a quicker surface and fairly bolted up, with Dubai Future seven lengths back in second.

Thady Gosden said: “He was obviously drawn down there on the inside and had a lovely draw. Jim broke well and gave him the perfect ride round as well.

“The pace was slow and we had a really nice spot on the outside. It was bit messy in behind us and we were luckily out of trouble and he sent him at the perfect time and he’s picked up well in the straight.

“He didn’t really enjoy swimming in the Arc – it was a much faster surface here today and he really enjoys that. He has a low action and enjoyed flicking off the top of it.

“We put this plan together after last year, we thought he was the sort of horse who would be suited to races like this. There is a huge attraction to come to the Middle East now and we thought this would suit him well for the start of the year.

“His last race was obviously the Arc, but prior to that was in the September Stakes against useful horses and he quickened up quite well that day on a sounder surface. He’s a versatile horse who is pretty comfortable in terms of trip. We’ll talk to the owners and see if we take him to Dubai next month.”

He had a wide trip - jockey error. It’s a shame, he tried

Of Missed The Cut’s run, Boughey said: “Oisin had a split-second decision to make whether to go forward or back and through no fault of anyone’s, he’s probably ended up having to go further than the others.

“But that’s racing. He’s probably run fractionally below his best form, but he’ll be back. There are a lot of options for him, we’ll just see how he is tomorrow.”

Murphy said: “He had a wide trip – jockey error. It’s a shame, he tried.”

Bill Mott’s Casa Creed was just touched off in the 1351 Turf Sprint by the Japanese-trained Songline 12 months ago and he had to settle for second behind another Far East runner this time in Bathrat Leon.

Fourth to Baaeed in the Sussex Stakes, Bathrat Leon won the Godolphin Mile last year and over this seven-furlong trip he was able to be ridden very aggressively.

Yoshito Yahagi is no stranger to winners on the global stage, and Bathrat Leon clung on desperately for success.

Richard Hannon’s Happy Romance finished just out of the places, in front of stablemate Lusail.

Yahagi said: “The tactics were to be in front. He was given a very good ride, I think. The course was perfect for him. Ryusei Sakai, my stable jockey, he is very up and coming at the moment. It is a big win for him.

“He travelled well and it was a very good plan. He stays that trip well. We will go to Dubai now.”

There was a local winner of the Saudi Derby when Commissioner King narrowly got the better of Frankie Dettoti on Bob Baffert’s Havnameltdown.

Winning jockey Luis Morales said: “He gave me everything. The way he had been working over the last few days and weeks, we knew we had a good chance. He just kept improving.

“I got a good trip and at one stage I thought I was going to win, then Frankie’s horse kept coming back.

“But we got there and it is a great feeling to win for all the local fans. He’s a local horse and it is great to do it.”

Asked how special it was to beat Frankie Dettori in a finish, he added with a smile: “After the finish line, I knew we’d won. But you know Frankie. When riding against him, he’s sometimes a pain! But he is a legend.”

Dettori was philosophical and said: “I spoke to Bob and he said try to nurse his speed. I tried to save as much as I could. We got into a duel, but unfortunately in the last 50 yards, he had enough.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox