Dubai: Twenty-one-year-old David Egan, the youngest jockey in the $20 million Saudi Cup, rode the race of a lifetime aboard British raider Mishriff to score a shock win in the world’s richest race at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Saudi Arabia.
Second in the Saudi Derby last year, the John Gosden-trained Mishriff denied favourite and American raider Charlatan by a length in an epic two-horse duel. Saudi hope Great Scot ran on for third, leaving fourth-place to Knicks Go, with Sleepy Eyes Todd taking fifth.
“I just can’t believe it. It’s unbelievable. He’s an absolute champion,” said the Irish-born Egan. “He’s a class horse who I have always believed in. I spoke to a lot of people and I got a lot of good advice on how to ride the track here. But he (Mishriff) just ran a brilliant race. All credit to the horse.”
The 2020 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile-winner and recent Pegasus Cup hero Knicks Go made the early fractions with Charlatan, winner of the Grade 1 Runhappy Malibu December at Santa Anita Park, in close pursuit for most of the 1,800m trip.
But it was the John Gosden-trained Mishriff, and Egan was making threatening moves in the front-running duo’s slipstream. As Knicks Go’s challenge faded halfway down the home straight, it was Mishriff’s rider Egan who picked up the gauntlet to challenge Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s Charlatan.
Riding as if his life depended on the outcome of the race, Egan managed to squeeze the best out of his willing partner to rein in Charlatan and legendary rider Mike Smith for a compelling win.
It was a glorious ending to a race that has captured the imagination of the world, and it was only fitting that a locally trained horse, Great Scott, would finish in the money. Ridden by Saudi jockey Adel Alfouraidi for trainer Abdullah Mushrif, Great Scot finished best of the rest when taking a commendable third.
Dubai hope Military Law, trained by Emirati handler Musebeh Al Muheiri, appeared to have every chance as the field turned for home, but could not match his rivals for speed and finished down the field for jockey Antonio Fresu.
Mishriff’s only previous race on dirt was 12 months ago when he was second in the Saudi Derby. Owned by Prince Al Faisal of Saudi Arabia, he was winning for the fifth time in nine career starts.
Meanwhile, British sensation Hollie Doyle made history when she won the Turf Cup on the Willie Mullins-trained True Self.
The Saudi Cup is held four weeks after the $3m Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park, Florida, and four weeks before the $12m Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse, Dubai, making it possible for horses in those races to compete in the Dubai showpiece.
It remains to be seen if Mishriff will travel to Dubai or instead be saved for an American campaign which will including the Breeders’ Cup as his principle target.