RIYADH: Joint-trainer Thady Gosden believes the demands of the Red Sea Turf Handicap is ideal for Ebor hero Trawlerman, when the Godolphin-owned 5-year-old tackles the $2.5 million contest at The Saudi Cup meeting on Saturday, Feb. 25.
The application of a hood to help him settle in the early stages of his races saw him improve throughout the second half of last season.
After winning a competitive Goodwood handicap, he overcame the widest draw to land the prestigious Ebor Handicap over 2,800 meters at York in August.
He was given a superb ride by Frankie Dettori to battle back for a last-gasp victory having made much of the running.
The pair finished the season behind star stayer Trueshan in the Group 2 Long Distance Cup on British Champions Day at Ascot.
Dettori, who is set to retire at the end of the year, has confirmed he will ride at The Saudi Cup meeting. He will compete on the opening day in the International Jockeys Challenge alongside some of the world’s best riders.
The veteran Italian rider is likely to team up with Trawlerman the following day in the 3,000-meter Red Sea Turf Handicap at the world’s most valuable race meeting with $35.35 million up for grabs over the two days.
Gosden, who trains on a joint license with his father John, said: “Trawlerman has always been a very talented horse.
“He progressed well throughout last year, winning the Ebor and then did well stepping up into stakes company on ground that probably had a little too much dig in it on Champions Day.
“He’s got a great mentality and he’s very tough, as we saw in the Ebor. He looked like he was beat but he came back and ground it out at the finish.
Gosden revealed that Trawlerman had a holiday after Champions Day and has been training well since the start of the year.
“The Red Sea Handicap is an ideal race for him,” the trainer said. “It’s a very competitive race, we’ve seen that in the last couple of years, and you’ve got to have a quality horse to get into the field let alone win it, but he’s exactly the right type.
“You’d like to think he could develop into a Cup horse later in the year. He obviously stays well and since he’s worn a hood he relaxes through his races,” Gosden said.
“Obviously the race is a little while off but Frankie won the Ebor on him so it would be logical for him to ride Trawlerman.”
Trawlerman will be joined at The Saudi Cup meeting, held over two days at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh, by talented stablemate Mostahdaf.
He will run in the Group 3 Neom Turf Cup, worth $1.5 million on Saturday, Feb. 25.
Mostahdaf has enjoyed a break since finishing last in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in France when the testing ground was all against him. He had earlier recorded his third victory at Group 3 level when successful in the September Stakes on Kempton’s all-weather track.
Gosden added: “Mostahdaf ran well throughout last year. He won the September Stakes at Kempton and the ground was very deep at Longchamp for the Arc de Triomphe. It rained a huge amount and he wasn’t in love with the ground at all.
“This is a drop back down in distance and this race should suit him. He’s in good order. He always has a positive attitude and he’s been training well.
“He always runs well fresh, so going there without (a) prep run isn’t something you’d worry about.”
The Gosdens have enjoyed great success at The Saudi Cup meeting. Mishriff finished runner-up in the 2020 Saudi Derby in the event’s inaugural year and then returned 12 months later to win the $20 million Saudi Cup itself.
Thady, then assistant to his father, was heavily involved in overseeing Mishriff’s preparation at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh. He was impressed with everything he saw in Saudi Arabia.
Gosden revealed: “The track is world class, as are the quarantine facilities.
“The event has improved year on year. I was out there in the inaugural year with Mishriff running in the Saudi Derby and it was fantastic — it’s improved even more since then.
“There’s a great atmosphere at the track and there’s a lot of culture to see in Saudi, it’s always very interesting,” he added. “It’s obviously a meeting everyone wants to have runners at. The prize money is exceptional and it fits into the calendar very well with the racing in Dubai the following month.”
“For horses coming from Britain it’s not the most straightforward preparation as it’s obviously winter over here.” said Gosden. “We can’t train the horses on the grass, it’s all on the all-weather gallops, so it’s not simple but it can be done.”