RIYADH: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman awarded the Saudi Cup to the winner of the final race of the world’s most valuable race meeting on Saturday at the King Abdul Aziz Racetrack in Riyadh.
The crown prince was patronizing the prize ceremony for the world’s richest race on behalf of King Salman who is honorary president of the Kingdom’s Equestrian Club.
Saudi-owned Mishriff won the $20 million Saudi Cup and the crown prince awarded three trophies to the owner of the horse Prince Abdulrahman bin Abdullah Al-Faisal, jockey David Egan and Thady Gosden, on behalf of his trainer father John, respectively.
The colt beat out American horse Charlatan to land the world’s most valuable race.
The John Gosden-trained horse, which is owned by Prince Faisal, ran the perfect race over nine furlongs as the two American rivals, Charlatan and Knicks Go, battled it out in the early stages.
Jockey David Egan was able to stay with them and push on as they turned for home.
Charlatan, ridden by Mike Smith came into the race as a heavy favorite, but in the end could not hold off supreme ride by Egan on the four-year-old Mishriff. Great Scott, ridden by Saudi jockey Adel Alfouraidi, came in a distant third.
“It’s a privilege to be connected with such a class horse, I’d like to thank Prince Faisal, John Gosden, all his team back in Newmarket,” said the winning jockey, minutes after securing the top prize.
“Everyone in connection with this horse has done a great job.”
“Going into the race I didn’t feel any pressure, it was just like going out on a normal race,” Egan added.
“It’s only when you pass the line, it all sinks and you realize what a big deal it is.”
Speaking via Zoom from Newmarket, Gosden said: “David rode a positive race and in the end basically outstayed the American horses on what wasn’t a crazy pace.”
Hollie Doyle earlier made history on Saturday by becoming the first female jockey to win a race on Saudi Cup day when she stormed to victory in the $1 million Neom Turf Cup, the first race of the day.
At a rainswept King Abdul Aziz Racecourse, Doyle’s victory on True Self got the action at the $30.5 million meeting off to a memorable start and there were also victories for the Dubai-owned Space Blues and Gifts of Gold of Godolphin.
At the International Jockeys Challenge on Friday, the early cloudy conditions had made way for sunshine by the time of the first of the afternoon races, but there would be no such respite on the day of the world’s richest horse race.
The conditions however did not seem to affect the brilliant Doyle, who came from behind with 100 meters left to win dramatically, with Channel Maker and Emirates Knight finishing in second and third respectively.
“The track’s beautiful, the dirt track rides great as does the turf,” Doyle said. “It’s obviously a huge privilege to be on the world stage with plenty of rides on a day like today. As a jockey, it’s what I strive to do. I feel very lucky to be where I am today.
Doyle, who finished third in the 2020 BBC Sports Personality of the Year, also highlighted the importance of taking her profile on the international stage.
“It’s really important, I don’t just want to be (just) a jockey, I want to be the best that I can be so getting leg up on these international trips is amazing,” she added.
In the second race of the day, the $1 million STC 1351 Turf Sprint, Godolphin’s Space Blues claimed the $600,000 top prize, with Al-Adiyat racing-owned Dark Power coming in second and Prince Faisal bin Khaled’s Urban Icon in third.
Doyle was back riding Red Verdon at the highly anticipated Red Sea Turf Handicap, but a surprise victory went to Godolphin’s Gifts of Gold, ridden by Pat Cosgrove, with Spanish Mission and Secret Advisor — also owned by Godolphin — finishing second and third.
Gifts of Gold’s trainer Saeed Bin Suroor was delighted with the win and revealed that preparation for the race had been challenging for his horse.
“He’s big strong horse, and it wasn’t easy for him to lose some weight, it took him some time,” Bin Suroor said. “But he ran well. In the race today, I said if we can keep him second, it will be good for him. It suits him really well and the last two furlongs, I thought he had a chance and he finished really well.”
The trainer also highlighted a special relationship with Cosgrove.
“He’s good jockey, he’s done a good job for us in Australia, and in England and also in Germany, we’re happy,” Bin Suroor added.
On the Gifts of Gold he said: “We’ll take him back to Dubai and maybe run him in the Gold Cup, two miles, give him a chance.”
“I’m sure he will lose some weight.”