Dubai: David Egan is yet to add a Group 1 success to his CV, but one spectacular night at Riyadh’s King Abdulaziz Racetrack and he’s already being touted as a riding great.
Egan’s ride aboard Mishriff in the world’s richest race, the Saudi Cup, was perhaps as spontaneous as it was planned and he deserved the plaudits for delivering the goods aboard one of John Gosden’s stable stars in what was an absolutely thrilling affair.
He also deserves the racing royalty being afforded to him, a commodity that once belonged to his father John, a winner of four G1 contests, including two Darley July Cups (2005, 2006), the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2006 and the 2003 Irish 2000 Guineas.
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Egan Jr is yet to emulate his father and win a G1, but for now he’s already a household name in racing circles. And he paid a massive tribute to his father, who was present and saw him ride in a champion in Saudi.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s Dubai World Cup card, David said: “My dad has put everything into me ever since I wanted to become a jockey.
“He’s gone to lengths to put me in great situations and in the company of great people who were willing to teach me. Luckily, he was in Bahrain at the time and he came over with Fawzi Nass’ horses to exercise them on the track otherwise he would not have been able to come.
“To be able to win the race and see his face walking in was better than a million dollars.”
Mishriff does not run in the showpiece G1 Dubai World Cup, which is also held on dirt. Instead, trainer Gosden has decided to switch him back to turf and run him in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic which, at 2,410m, is significantly further than the 1,900m he competed at in Riyadh.
It might seem like a fact-finding mission, but Gosden and the horse’s owner Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia had signalled their intentions long before the four-year-old Make Believe colt touched down in Dubai.
Gosden is well-known for his astuteness as a trainer, and the move to turf and upping of trip opens up prestigious and lucrative options during the European summer for Mishriff’s connections. He could go to Royal Ascot in June and tackle the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown a month later, with the Juddmonte International at York another option in August followed by France’s biggest race the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October.
Egan, 21, confirmed the reason behind the return to turf. He said: “He’s an unbelievable and versatile horse. A big win like that (Sheema Classic) will be nice obviously, but it’s not the be all and end all. They thought of going for the Sheema instead of the Dubai World Cup because of how he’ll be campaigned for the season ahead. He has a lot more options if things go well Saturday and could even get to the Arc, but we have to get Saturday out first.”
Egan is really looking forward to getting back on Mishriff, with whom he’s now won three times in four rides. He was aboard when Mishriff shed his maiden tag in November 2019 and then rode him to victory in the Newmarket Stakes in June, which started a three-race win streak that saw him win the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly and later the Group 2 Prix du Guillaume d’Ornano at Deauville under Ioritz Mendizabal and Frankie Dettori respectively. The only blemish on the Egan-Mishriff partnership is a runners-up finish in last year’s Saudi Derby.
“He’s done a lot of travelling. He’s gone to France twice, Riyadh twice and now here, so he’s an international traveller and he’s probably got more stamps on his passport than me,” Egan said. “It’s great for the horse that he can acclimatise so well and so quickly and run such good races after travelling. He’s trained on the snow in Newmarket and won here at Saudi so it’s full credit to the horse and the entire Gosden team.
“It (Saudi Derby) was a hard nut to take, but I am really happy for Prince Faisal and to just go there and be part of the team was fantastic. The win repaid his confidence in me. Running the Saudi Derby helped Mishriff in the Saudi Cup.”
Just as winning the Saudi Cup has helped Egan’s stock rise among up and coming riders.
“It was a huge night in my career and it has put me on a pedestal and a new platform to get new rides. It has! I’ve got five rides on Dubai World Cup night which I never thought I’d have as a 21-year-old,” Egan added.
On Saturday, Egan is also booked to ride Ed Dunlop’s Red Verdon in the G2 Dubai Gold, Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Ambassadorial in the G2 Godolphin Mile, Court House, trained by Simon Crisford, in the G1 Dubai Turf and Joseph O’Brien’s Speak In Colours in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint.
Speaking of what is likely to be an eventful Saturday, Egan said: “The dirt track in Saudi rides a bit slower and it brought the stamina out. Mishriff probably had a bit more than Charlatan (runner-up). Obviously, over 2,400m on turf he’s going to need every bit of stamina to be able to relax mid-race. On the dirt (in Saudi) they went a solid pace from the word go and it’s going to be more of a sedate pace on the mile and a half on turf. So he’ll need everything to go right.
“I saw him on the track (on Monday) and I’ve seen him this morning (Tuesday) and he looks a picture. He really relishes training on an American style training track, as he did in Riyadh. He seemed a lot more relaxed and chilled out especially when I was riding him out in the mornings in Riyadh. I will get aboard him tomorrow (Wednesday) morning and hopefully it’s similar stuff.”
Egan has ridden at Meydan five times in the past, including twice this season, but is yet to win a race. He could buck the trend on Saturday.
“I’ve ridden at Meydan, but haven’t passed the winning post in front just yet,” he said. “Hopefully, I can do it on Saturday.”