Oisin Murphy will have his first big-race rides since returning from a 14-month ban at the Saudi Cup meeting.
The three-time British Champion Jockey has been booked to ride Missed The Cut in the $1.5 million G3 Neom Turf Cup presented by Altanfeethi at the world’s most valuable racing fixture.
The two-day festival – featuring the $20 million Saudi Cup – kicks off on Friday, Feb. 24, just eight days after Murphy is allowed to return to racing following his lengthy ban. The 2100m Neom Turf Cup presented by Altanfeethi and the Saudi Cup take place the following day.
Missed The Cut’s trainer, Newmarket-based George Boughey, was quick to snap up the services of the Classic-winning jockey.
He said: “Oisin has only ridden one winner for me, but he’s obviously a fantastic rider and I’m delighted to have him on board.
“I wanted someone to create a bond with the horse. He’s done plenty of work on him. He went to Chelmsford to ride him the other morning and he’s delighted with him, so it’s all systems go.”
Missed The Cut did not make his debut until April last year. He quickly completed a hat-trick of wins when landing the Golden Gates Handicap at Royal Ascot before ending the year with victory in the Listed Churchill Stakes on the All-Weather at Lingfield.
The form of that most recent run in November is starting to look very good, with runner-up Algiers going on to win two Group 2 races in Dubai by wide margins.
Boughey added: “He’s been in great shape and seeing his form get franked on the world stage just confirmed what he’s been showing us for a while. We’re very excited to see him out in Saudi in a few weeks.
“He’s a horse that was sold out of Shadwell dispersal sale. He was just a standout physically from the get-go. He’s still a big baby. He’s only run six times. We’re taking on much more experienced horses, but his work is improving at a rate of knots. He is the horse that could take us to the next level.”
Missed The Cut, who is likely to head off to America after his run at the Saudi Cup meeting, will be joined by Sir Busker in the $1.5 million Neom Turf Cup presented by Altanfeethi.
His owners are dreaming of a fairy-tale win at the world’s most valuable meeting at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh.
The 7-year-old is owned by the 16-strong Kennett Valley Thoroughbreds syndicate and is trained by Newmarket-based William Knight.
Sir Busker has progressed from handicaps to Group company, and hopes are high he can give his enthusiastic owners another memorable payday under big-race jockey Ryan Moore.
Knight said: “He’s come up through the ranks. We always liked him as a 2-year-old, and he’s improved as he’s gotten older.
“To think five years ago I’d be sitting here now talking about going out to Saudi with him — it’s things you dream of. He’s been a star for us.
“He’s owned by a lovely group of people. They’re very passionate owners. When you stand in the paddock before these big races with the owners, who all have 1/16th, it’s great.
“They realize how lucky they are. They realize he’s the horse of a lifetime. He’s given everyone so much enjoyment.”
Sir Busker had the option of running in the G1 $20 million Saudi Cup — the world’s most valuable race — but Knight is happy they have decided to go for the Neom Turf Cup presented by Altanfeethi.
He added: “We’ve talked long and hard about this. I promise you it’s changed daily as to which race we’re going to go for. It’s such an amazing opportunity to run for that sort of money in the Saudi Cup.
“Looking at the entries for both races, I think we have a better chance of being in the first three in the Neom Turf Cup. The extra distance will really suit him, and we know he goes really well on turf.”