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The Neom Turf Cup was won by Port Lions last year. But, punters will be familiar with True Self, Tilsit and Saltonstall.
Ado McGuinness trains Saltonstall, who had a good end to the Irish turf season. But, the anticipated good ground and 10-furlong trip would put me off him here. Tilsit is likely to be our favourite here for the Charlie Hills and Ryan Moore combination, the horse is owned by the late Saudi Prince Khalid Abdullah. He is a late maturing type and looks to have a promising career ahead.
Hollie Doyle partners True Self for Willie Mullins and while I like True Self, she is running over the wrong trip here and needs at least 2 furlongs further. But, pressed for a selection, I’m going with the US entrant CHANNEL MAKER for Joel Rosario looks ideal for here. The trip shouldn’t be too much for him too.
Dark Power amazing took this Turf Sprint last year at a whooping price of 66/1. Space Blues for Charlie Appleby and William Buick is the one they all have to beat here. He will have to win over a bare 6 furlongs though, which he hasn’t won over before. But, being a hold-up type, he will have time off the bend to get organised and make a big challenge.
Glorious Journey is the second-string Appleby horse with James Doyle onboard. He was third here last year, but he is a 7-furlong specialist and a lot will have to go right for him here to win. However, he won’t be too far off the winner
LAND OF LEGENDS is running for Saeed Bin Suroor and Adrie De Vries. He won a nice Group 2 race at Meydan in January and has the potential to go close here.
Prince Of Arran was third here last year, in a race won by CALL THE WIND, and ideally will have come on well from his race two weeks ago at Kempton. He is a globetrotting star and will be in the mix. Secret Advisor looks the part for Charlie Appleby and William Buick, still relatively unexposed he has shown good form over this trip in Meydan.
Mildenberger for Mark Johnston and Joe Fanning is a good a stayer that might just find one too good for him, but does stay the trip well. Barbados developed into a good Group class stayer with Jessica Harrington and looks the type to be campaigned globally for the big prizes.
Spanish Mission has Ryan Moore onboard here and he holds all the attributes to put up a big challenge to Call The Wind as he has a good turn of foot something many in the field lack. Call The Wind was really good here last year though, for a stayer to show a turn of foot is always really impressive and he has it. He’ll be very hard to beat in this.
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REBELS ROMANCE looked the real deal in the UAE 2000 Guineas under a hands and hells ride, a trip to the Kentucky Derby is not out of the question for him at all. New Treasure was an interesting recent purchase by local Saudi connections. He’s not assured to act on dirt, but should get the trip for team John Gosden and Frankie Dettori.
Soft Whisper looked very good winning the UAE 1000 Guineas under Frankie Dettori. ‘Big Money’ Mike Smith is a good replacement jockey in this million dollar contest and she is sure to be in the mix.
Oxted was a very impressive winner of the July Cup last summer and I am absolutely surprised to see him racing on the dirt rather than the turf. On paper I don’t particularly see why he should act on dirt, nor has future champion jockey Cieran Fallon ridden much on dirt. I reckon it is very much an uphill battle in what is a weak race given the prize money.
Harrys Bar runs for Ado McGuinness. Again not assured to act on dirt here, but Aido has gotten a good Listed win out of him at Dundalk and has the potential to spring a surprise here. NEW YORK CENTRAL ran a big race here last year, the pace of this contest will probably him and he has John Velazquez on board. That’s good enough for me.
Mishriff is likely to be the most popular horse on the day for team Gosden. He was unlucky with some stalls and traffic issues last year in the Saudi Derby, but the French Derby winner was given a relatively quiet campaign last year with eyes on returning for the world’s richest race here.
He has probably the two best dirt horses on the go to beat here in CHARLATAN and Knicks Go though, but I believe he can absolutely put it up to them here. Charlatan was a one-time Kentucky Derby favourite, I believe Bob Baffert has him back on track. He should be really hard to beat in this one.
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