No Dubai for Japanese globetrotter Deirdre after Saudi mission

Horse Racing Deirdre
Deirdre goes through her paces at King Abdulaziz racecourse before the Saudi Cup meeting.
Photo: Laura Green/Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Mahmoud Khaled

Saudi Arabia: Connections of Deirdre have ruled out a third trip to Dubai after the Japanese flagbearer chases the winner’s share of a $1 million prize on the Saudi Cup undercard at King Abdulaziz racecourse in Riyadh on Saturday.

The hugely popular globetrotting mare has made the frame in the last two runnings of the Dubai Turf, where she was third to Saudi Cup contender Benbatl in 2018 before coming fourth behind compatriot Almond Eye last year.

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Almond Eye will go back to Meydan to defend her crown but Deirdre will return to her base in Newmarket for a six-year-old campaign revolving around the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

After her historic success in the G1 Nassau Stakes at Goodwood last summer – where she became only the second Japanese-trained horse to win in Britain after Agnes World’s July Cup in 2000 – Deirdre has been made odds-on favourite with bookmakers to win the $1m Mohamed Yousuf Naghi Motors Cup on Saturday’s Saudi Cup card.

Regular partner Oisin Murphy takes the reins in the 2,100-metre (1m2½f) contest on the new turf track at King Abdulaziz as she continues her world tour.

Deirdre has been stabled in her international base at Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Abington stables since May last year under the care of Yoshitake Hashida, son of trainer Mitsuru Hashida, and her daily rider and groom Yuta Komiyama.

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Deirdre flew into Saudi Arabia from Newmarket on Sunday and has impressed work watchers. Her trainer, too, was pleased with her condition when he saw her on Wednesday.

“She likes warmer weather, so I am happy with her condition at the moment and how she moved this morning,” said Hashida.

“She is based in Newmarket and is travelling a lot, so I do not have any concern about her travelling overseas at all. She had a bit of a break since her last start and we have decided not to go to Dubai afterwards.

“Hopefully her training will continue to go well for her big race on Saturday. I am very honoured to be involved in the inaugural international racing event in Saudi Arabia and we hope she will win.”

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