Oxted in line for Saudi adventure
Roger Teal is considering giving July Cup hero Oxted a first start on dirt on his return to action next year in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint in Saudi Arabia.
The $1.5million six-furlong contest is one of two races the Lambourn handler is considering for the Mayson gelding at the Saudi Cup meeting on February 20 along with the 1351 Turf Sprint over slightly further.
Although the four year-old, who provided Teal with his first Group One success in the summer feature at Newmarket, has yet to race on anything else but turf, Teal believes he would have no problems switching to a dirt surface.
Teal said: “The obvious one for us would be the Turf Sprint which is run over about six and three-quarter furlongs. I suppose his ideal trip would be six, but he has won over seven in the past so it shouldn’t be a problem.
“We will also have a look at the Riyadh Dirt Sprint too which is run over six as we know he goes so well over that distance.
“I’ve heard really good things about the quality of the dirt surface – I spoke to James Doyle who was very complimentary about it.
“Also, in the back of my mind I know that he is trained on the all-weather at home and he is a speedy horse that normally holds a prominent position, so the kick-back should be less of a concern.”
Teal reports Oxted to be in good shape, having given him a short break since finishing fifth in the British Champions Sprint on his final start last season.
He added: “He came back in on Monday (last week) after a short break just to freshen him up a bit. I guess it was about four weeks or so to give him some time to chill out after a busy season.
“He was out in the field during the day and came back in at night. It seems to have done him the world of good and we now start our preparations for a potential trip to Riyadh in February.
“We will wind him up slowly and gradually step up his exercise routine.”
We had the option of going to Hong Kong, but that meeting just came too late in the season for us
An outing in the Longines Hong Kong Sprint on Sunday had been mooted as a possibility for Oxted, but Teal felt the timing was not quite right.
He said: “The Saudi Cup meeting sits perfectly in the calendar for him as we build towards another season in the UK.
“We had the option of going to Hong Kong, but that meeting just came too late in the season for us.
“Targeting the Saudi Cup sprints allowed us to give the horse a break then bring him back. We’d love to go there and take our chance.”
Teal could also be represented at the meeting by progressive stayer Ocean Wind, after earmarking the Long Distance Turf Handicap as a target.
A Listed bumper winner, the son of Teofilo has not looked back since suffering switching to the Flat, rattling up a hat-trick of wins culminating in victory at Doncaster in October.
Teal said: “I’m not sure he will be rated quite high enough to get in, but I’d love to take Ocean Wind to Riyadh too for the Long Distance Turf Handicap.
“He came back in last week and has only been trotting since. He’s an exciting prospect who has won his last three and still seems to be improving.
“The trip and conditions look ideal and I know his owners are keen to give it a go. Fingers crossed we can get him into the race.”