The new $20 million Saudi Cup and pretty tasty undercard will be run in Riyadh at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack on Saturday, February 29th 2020.
It might be a new venue to many, but they have raced there for some time on the Dirt and several of the big-name jockeys have nothing but good things to say about the track. The key points to take from what's been said being it is considered fair for frontrunners or come from behind types equally, it has a long straight, sweeping bends and minimal fine sand kickback.
The Turf track, which is inside the Dirt, is new having been seeded the back end of last year, with Newmarket’s clerk of the course Michael Prosser among others having been out to Saudi Arabia to help with the process and oversee the final preparations. The team that have created the track are responsible for Lords’ cricket ground, the grass courts at Wimbledon and the straight mile at Ascot, so they know what they are doing.
There are eight races on the card including an Arabian heat. The races sit perfectly in the afternoon for us punters here in the UK with the first on the card due off at 1.00 and I am getting involved.
The first race I am punting in is the 61/2f STC 1351 Sprint Cup Turf at 1.35. Glorious Journey looks a solid bet at 5-2. He showed he is in fine form with an impressive victory under a 3lb penalty in the G.2 Al Fahidi Fort at Meydan last month and I don't see the slight drop in trip as a concern.
We stay on the Turf for the 1m7f Longines Handicap at 2.10. Cross Counter is available at 7-4 and is fancied to deny top-weight. Dee Ex Bee is naturally feared but I think the jolly has more natural speed and will be better suited to the trip and track.
It's the Dirt track for the 6f Saudia Sprint Cup at 4.50. Imperial Hint is short, and has an obvious chance, but i think the surface might suit the fast finishing Drafted. he loves coming through horses and with the minimal kickback here it could prove perfect and at 6-1 he is worth a chance.
The main event at is the $20 million 1m1f Saudi Cup at 5.40 our time here in the UK. Maximum Security has been jolly in the build-up but I think he is too short to be backed, I might be wrong but I am not convinced he is as good as some think. McKinzie is one I am a bit of a fan of and he has hit the bar in a couple of big races lately including the Breeders' Cup Classic last time. This unusual distance is actually probably his ideal trip, but he has the habit of finding one too good in the big races. Benbatl has been given the go-ahead to run by Godolphin boss Sheikh Mohammed and could notch-up a pretty impressive double over the course of the coming month if he takes this on the 29th February and come the 28th March the Dubai World Cup! It won’t do his career earnings any harm!!! I think 8-1 with Coral is too big for the 6yo and have happily taken a bit of that. I have been talking him up for a long time now and he has looked as good as ever of late out in Dubai.
Somewhat closer to Triple G Towers the 3.10 at Lingfield is the Listed 7f Ladbrokes Home Of The Odds Boost Spring Cup Stakes. Sun Power wasn’t embarrassed in the G.3 Sirenia Stakes at Kempton in September, having gone close in a couple of Listed races before that. The snips were reached for in October and he arrives here a little lighter. At 3-1 get on as I think he can win this.