• A weekly round-up of international horse racing snippets
Saudi Arabia Dubai waiting game for Mishriff
Although Mishriff is favourite for the Dubai World Cup with international bookmakers, trainer John Gosden is in no rush to commit the Saudi Cup winner to the Meydan contest on March 27, saying he will assess the colt back in Newmarket over the next couple of weeks before making a decision. The Juddmonte International at York has been mentioned as a primary target in the summer.
US stars Charlatan and Knicks Go have also flown home to the States and will not reappear at Meydan, leaving Sleepy Eyes Todd (fifth) Military Law (sixth), Tacitus (seventh) and Chuwa Wizard (ninth) to represent the Saudi form in Dubai.
Dubai World Cup betting (Ladbrokes): 2 Mishriff, 6 Maxfield, 8 Jesus Team, 10 Tacitus, 12 Cafe Pharoah, Military Law, Salute The Soldier, 16 Max Player, Military March, 20 Chuwa Wizard, Sleepy Eyes Todd, 25 bar
• Read more at the Attheraces website
USA Saratoga switch for Jockey Club
A significant upheaval to the big-race programme in New York will take place this year with the moving of the historic Jockey Club Gold Cup, the traditional highlight of Belmont Park’s fall meet, to an earlier late-summer slot at Saratoga.
The time-honoured G1 contest – won in the past by such greats as Kelso, Man o’ War, Cigar and Curlin – was the scene of one of the most celebrated US races in the last 50 years in 1978 when Exceller beat two Triple Crown winners in Seattle Slew and Affirmed.
However, the famous contest has lost lustre since the advent of the Breeders’ Cup Classic and now gets shuffled forward alongside the G1 Flower Bowl for fillies and mares on turf. The Woodward Stakes moves in the opposite direction.
• Read more on the NYRA website
GB Saliva testing for jockeys
Jockeys in Britain are set to undergo saliva testing for the presence of cocaine and other banned substances which could see them stood down from riding with immediate effect. The pilot programme, which will start in the spring, was announced by the British Horseracing Authority, as Philip Prince was banned for six months after being found to be 56 times over the threshold for a metabolite of cocaine.
• Read more at the BBC Sport website
GB Derby purse up to £1.125m
Although the Jockey Club is still seeking a new sponsor after Investec dropped out, prize-money for the 2021 Derby will return to seven figures with Britain’s senior Classic set to be worth £1.125 million at Epsom on Saturday June 5. The purse was cut to £500,000 when the race was run a month later than schedule as the sport emerged from a temporary shutdown as Covid-19 took hold.
• Read more at the Racing Post website
Australia Surrogate mare scandal
Stunning allegations emerged in Australia where Racing Victoria confirmed it was conducting an investigation into the use of surrogate mares in place of champion mares by multi-millionaire Sean Buckley’s stud farm operation.
Royal Ascot winner Miss Andretti and Strikeline, the dam of Nature Strip, have been named as the mares at the centre of the inquiry, which if proved would be in contravention of Australian Stud Book rules. Buckley said: “I have a completely clear conscience.”
Qatar Bowerman strike for McGuinness
Relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia have not been the best of late so a penny for the thoughts of the Amir Sword Festival when the Saudi Cup was moved forward a week, right into their slot.
Although four locally-designated Group races at Al Rayyan racecourse in Doha attracted international competition, only one prize was marked for export with the Ado McGuinness-trained Bowerman landing the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Cup under Ronan Whelan.
The feature thoroughbred event was the $1 million HH The Amir Trophy, in which the Andrew Balding-trained Berkshire Rocco was beaten 2¾ lengths into second by local veteran Noor Al Hawa under Alberto Sanna.
• More about racing in Qatar at the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club website