24 February 2023

Subjectivist primed for high-profile Saudi return

24 February 2023

A horse who has been off the track for over 600 days and a veteran jockey with only a handful of rides in the past six months are chasing a prize of over £1million as Subjectivist lines up in the Red Sea Turf Handicap in Riyadh.

Subjectivist had just cemented his position as the leading stayer of his generation when winning the Gold Cup at Ascot in 2021, following up an utterly dominant display in Dubai.

He subsequently sustained a tendon injury which has kept him off the track since and at one point there was talk of retirement. There was never any thought of retirement for 52-year-old Fanning, though, who has only just come back from a shoulder injury picked up in June.

Since Subjectivist was last seen, Charlie Johnston was added to the licence by his father, Mark, who then retired, leaving his son in sole control.

“It is a feeling of the unknown,” said the younger Johnston.

“We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t feel we would be competitive. Can I have the same confidence I had two years ago? No. This horse is coming back from a serious tendon injury, a tendon injury that in a lot of cases is career-ending. It is not like a bone injury that you know would have repaired to 100 per cent.

“There will be a reasonable number of the field who would not want to be particularly aggressive. Stall 13 wouldn’t have been my first choice of where to jump from, but it is what we’ve got and we just have to make the best of the situation.

“The horse seems in good fettle with himself and it’s all systems go. I think he is showing the signs of a horse who has spent 20 months away from the track and he was always quite a difficult horse to lead up, particularly on a raceday going back a couple of years, so it doesn’t concern me to see him full of himself. In fact, I’d much rather see him like that than the other way.”

Other UK interest in the race includes John and Thady Gosden’s Ebor winner Trawlerman, the mount of Frankie Dettori.

Thady Gosden said: “He’s an Ebor winner who was able to make the step up to Group class when he was third in the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day at Ascot, so you would like to think he will continue to develop into a good stayer.

“But this is a very good race, not least with the return of Subjectivist, and he faces very tough competition in a very competitive handicap.”

Karl Burke’s Al Qareem, David O’Meara’s Get Shirty, Andrew Balding’s Nate The Great and the Ian Williams-trained Enemy also run.

All eyes will be on George Boughey’s Missed The Cut in the Neom Turf Cup given he beat Algiers in his prep race.

Simon and Ed Crisford’s charge has made giant strides in Dubai subsequently, giving Boughey plenty of confidence.

He said: “We’re happy with him. He beat the Dubai World Cup favourite (Algiers) on the all-weather at Lingfield back in November and he comes here in super shape, so we are looking forward to it.

“The Algiers form is obviously good form. Algiers has taken his form to a different level on the dirt in Meydan and this is a whole different kettle of fish for Missed The Cut. It is a tight 10 and a bit furlongs around the turf here. He has got plenty of pace and I’m hoping he should go well.”

Saeed bin Suroor’s pair of Dubai Future and White Moonlight, the Gosden-trained Mostahdaf and William Knight’s stalwart Sir Busker are other familiar names lining up.

In the 1351 Turf Sprint, Richard Hannon runs both Happy Romance and Lusail, while Charlie Hills is represented by Garrus and Pogo. Japanese runner Songline looks the one to beat having won the race 12 months ago.

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