Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby is considering a trip to France for his Champagne Stakes runner-up Royal Crusade.
Having justified odds-on favouritism when making a winning debut at Newmarket last month, the Shamardal colt was stepped up to Group Two level on Town Moor last week and ran a fine race to finish a neck second to Richard Hannon’s high-class juvenile Threat.
Appleby has always held Royal Crusade in high regard, admitting he shows far more on the Newmarket gallops than his illustrious stablemate Pinatubo.
Royal Crusade is set to be given another chance at Pattern level before the season is out, with the Group Three Prix Thomas Byron at Saint-Cloud on October 4 pencilled in as a potential target.
Appleby said: “Royal Crusade and Pinatubo are two different horses. Royal Crusade has a bit of presence about him and isn’t afraid to say it – he’s always been a good work horse.
“I wouldn’t have run him in a race like the Champagne Stakes off the back of one run if I didn’t think he was a good horse and he didn’t disgrace himself at all.
“He bumped into a good horse in Threat, who is obviously a bit more experienced than our horse and maybe a bit sharper as well, having finished second in the Coventry and won the Gimcrack over six furlongs.
“He has come out of the race well and we’ll probably give him one more run before the end of the season.
“I think the Somerville (Tattersalls Stakes) will probably come a bit too soon and we might take him to France for the Thomas Byron. He wouldn’t mind a bit of ease in the ground and hopefully he’s a nice horse going forward.”
The world’s richest race, the US$20million Saudi Cup, will have a glittering support card for its inaugural running on February 29, 2020.
HRH Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal, chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, announced five new international races at a Saudi Cup launch event at Fortnum & Mason in London on Sunday.
Three of the five new races on the undercard will be run on a new turf course, with the other two to be run on the highly acclaimed dirt track on which the 1,800m Saudi Cup itself will be contested. Prize money for the five races totals US$6.8m.
They are: A staying handicap on turf over 3,000m, with a total race value of US$2.5m, a first prize of US$1.5m, and weights ranging from 62kg to 54kg.
A middle-distance turf race over 2,100m for four-year-olds and upwards, with a total race value of US$1m and a first prize of US$600,000.
A turf sprint over 1,350m for four-year-olds and upwards, with a total race value of US$1m and a first prize of US$600,000.
A dirt sprint over 1,200m for three-year-olds and upwards, with a total race value of US$1.5m and a first prize of US$900,000.
A dirt mile race for three-year olds over 1,600m, with a total race value of US$800,000 and a first prize of US$480,000.
“We believe the new races will help make Saudi Cup Day a wonderful sporting occasion,” said HRH Prince Bandar.
“And we will be thrilled to welcome international competitors to these new races. I am especially pleased that we will be having turf racing in Riyadh for the first time. Things are really beginning to take shape.”
The launch was attended by trainers and jockeys keen to hear about the lucrative new race day. Leading trainer John Gosden said: “These races will offer terrific targets for a range of horses – from sprinters to stayers, plus a mile race for three-year-olds which is worth a good deal more than the early classics. I’m already thinking about which horses I could take.”
The Saudi Cup will be staged at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh which has been hosting racing and international jockeys for many years.
One familiar face to have frequently raced in Saudi Arabia is Frankie Dettori, who also appeared on stage at the event. He said: “The quality of the dirt track in Riyadh is second to none.
“I’ve ridden European horses on it, and they take to it really well, and the new turf track will give the day even more appeal. The welcome awaiting any jockey competing in the Kingdom is exceptional.
“The hospitality of the Saudi racing fraternity is amazing and there is a real passion for the sport. I hope I’ll be there on the starting line come February 29.”
The feature race of the event – the Saudi Cup itself – will have a maximum field of 14 runners and be run over 1,800m on dirt. The prize for the winning horse will be $10m with horses down to 10th place sharing another $10m between them.
Horseracing in the Kingdom stretches back more than five decades since the Jockey Club Of Saudi Arabia was formed in 1965. “The introduction of the Saudi Cup as an international race is without doubt the most significant event in the history of horse racing in Saudi Arabia,” said Prince Bandar.
“It demonstrates our resolve to develop this great sport in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and also our ambition to become a leading player on horse racing’s world stage.”
Pinatubo produced an astonishing performance to land the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh.
Representing the connections that were successful in last year’s renewal with Quorto, the Charlie Appleby-trained colt was sent off favourite for the Group One feature on the back of an unbeaten four-race campaign that had included victories at Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood.
Always travelling sweetly for William Buick, the Godolphin-owned Shamardal colt cruised to the front inside the three-furlong pole and when Buick let him loose with a furlong and a half to run, he simply rocketed clear.
The race was immediately over as a contest, with nine lengths eventually separating the winner from nearest pursuer Armory.
Appleby said: “He’s a trainer’s dream once you get to know him, because he doesn’t excite you in the morning to say the least. We started his career off at Wolverhampton for a reason, as we didn’t really know he was in the yard.
“He’s done nothing but improve with each run. James (Doyle) said he didn’t really travel in the first half of the race at Goodwood, and I said to William this morning, ‘don’t panic if this horse isn’t travelling with you early, as at home he won’t pick the bridle up’.
“As soon as William gave him a squeeze he soon came back on the bridle and from two down I couldn’t see him getting beat. It’s not often you can say that at this level.
“I gave him a gallop midweek with some of the nicer two-year-olds trying to give myself a bit of confidence and I probably did the reverse, as Royal Crusade (Champagne Stakes runner-up) put him in his place.
“He just goes through the motions and the jockey gets off and says he’s moving well. He goes home and eats, drinks, sleeps and that’s the end of it. We only ever see the best of him when he turns up at the track, which is a nice position to be in.
“The way he’s developing as an individual over the last six week has been noticeable. People were questioning whether he would just be a two-year-old, but he’s got a nice walk and presence about him. He’s a very exciting horse.”
He added on plans: “I’ll have to discuss things with Sheikh Mohammed, but the way he’s won there I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t run in the Dewhurst (at Newmarket on October 12).”
Provided by Press Association Sport