Dubai: Saudi Cup hero Mishriff will next answer a Dubai call during his Gulf sojourn after being named favourite for the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan.
The 2,410m turf event is part of the nine race Dubai World Cup day programme and John Gosden’s stable star will make a return to turf after successfully landing the feature $20 million Saudi Cup at Riyadh in February.
Mishriff caused a massive upset when beating his far more illustrious American foes at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack under David Egan and as Gosden looks to prepare him for his main target of the year, August’s 2,000m Group 1 Juddmonte International at York, a return to turf and a bid for the Sheema Classic at Meydan on March 27 seems a natural fit for the four-year-old Make Believe colt.
Mishriff powered past American star Charlatan late on to win the $20m jackpot and it was initially thought he would be sent out for the showpiece $12m Dubai World Cup.
But with the British summer in mind, the longer Sheema Classic is perhaps the perfect step forward. It could be his last outing before he is freshened up for Royal Ascot and the bigger meetings later this year.
“To win a race of the calibre of The Saudi Cup was pretty wonderful for everyone involved. It was brilliant that the horse is owned by a local owner, Prince Faisal, and the home crowd were obviously thrilled,” said Gosden’s son Thady, who oversaw his preparations in Saudi. “Mishriff had a hard race in The Saudi Cup but he took the race well. Charlatan is a top-class horse, so it was pretty tough running him down. He’s been working well and he seems happy. The whole journey and the travelling hasn’t taken much out of him.”
The Sheema Classic will be the longest he’s asked to go with his previous farthest trip being his successful outing in the 2100m Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly last July.
Thady is confident Mishriff will handle the step up in distance. “There’s plenty of stamina in his pedigree and you’d think he might get it [the trip] on what he shows at home. The Sheema Classic is 2400m so we’ll find out what we suspect but we’ll know for sure afterwards,” he said. “The dirt tracks in Saudi and Dubai are different surfaces. The turf horses seem to handle it better in Saudi so the dirt form might not necessarily translate to Meydan.”
Looking beyond Dubai World Cup night, Thady said York’s Group 1 Juddmonte International will be a better fit considering Mishriff’s Saudi connections.
“The Juddmonte International is the premier 2000m race in the UK. York is a track that should suit him well as it’s a nice galloping 2000m,” Thady added.
“With the Juddmonte link with Prince Faisal and Saudi Arabia it’s another race I’m sure he’d like to target. Plenty of good horses have won it and it’s been a pretty good stallion making race over the years.
“Mishriff is definitely a horse who enjoys his racing, mentally he doesn’t seem to worry about it at all. He should be able to take plenty of racing this year.
“He’s a pretty lively character — he definitely likes to let you know he’s there but he’s very straightforward in his work. When you see him on the racetrack he holds his head quite low — he gets on with it and definitely enjoys it.”