Dubai: Renowned Emirati handler Saeed Bin Surour hopes to pull off an ambitious Gulf Classic double in Saudi Arabia this weekend when he saddles the highly-regarded Soft Whisper in the $1.5 million Al Rajhi Bank Saudi Derby at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse.
Bin Surour, who has won the UAE equivalent on eight occasions, is in no doubt that the daughter of Dubawi has the right credentials to take on the boys and win the 1600 metre dirt contest.
After the recent UAE 1000 Guineas winner worked at Riyadh on Thursday morning, Bin Surour issued an upbeat bulletin saying: “She’s one of the best fillies I’ve had on the dirt. “I’ve won the Guineas 12 times and she won it very well and is a top filly.
“It’s (Saudi Derby) a tough race to face the colts, but if the filly is good enough, she will run very well here and she can win.
“I also plan to run her in the UAE Derby after this. More distance is OK. Being a daughter of Dubawi, she can go a mile or a mile and a quarter, no problem. She has a good chance on Saturday.”
The homebred daughter of Dubawi has won four consecutive races, including a Salisbury maiden in August last year, a Pontefract handicap in September and January’s UAE 1000 Guineas Trial. American great Mike Smith, who on December 28, 2019, surpassed Jerry Bailey for most Grade 1 wins by a jockey with 217 wins, takes the ride on Soft Whisper replacing Frankie Dettori who was on board in the UAE 1000 Guineas.
Fellow Emirati handler Salem Bin Ghadayer is represented by Meshakel went down by a narrow neck to Mouheeb in the UAE 2000 Guineas on February 4 and also starts Saturday’s race as a leading contender.
“It’s more exciting because I am the breeder,” Bin Ghadayer said. “I had the dam and to see him do this well as a first foal and be second in the Guineas is amazing—especially in a quick time. Having him in a big race in Saudi is exciting and makes me really happy. I still own his dam and have his half-brother.
“He’s a young horse and he has had just six starts. Since I got him in my yard, he’s improved day by day and race by race. These types of horses - the kinds who keep improving and doing better - it is a dream and you have to dream in racing,” he added.
“He’s a big horse and I don’t see anything against his improvement (going forward) and I think he will run better again. He’s a nice horse who will improve with seasoning and he’s a Shamardal colt and they get better with age. I think he’ll have a nice future.”
The Dubai duo face 10 rivals.