By Jon Lees
Saudi Arabia: Champion Stakes winner Sealiway could make his first start of 2022 in the $20 million Saudi Cup before a “big international campaign” which will include a second attempt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October.
After finishing fifth in this year’s Arc, the Cedric Rossi-trained three-year-old beat Dubai Honour, Mac Swiney and reigning Saudi Cup champion Mishriff in the Ascot G1 13 days later. Earlier in the season Sealiway was second in the Prix du Jockey Club.
“He had a brilliant season, just as we hoped,” said Pauline Chehboub, whose family’s Haras de le Gousserie own the colt with breeder Guy Pariente
“It was a great run behind St Mark’s Basilica in the Prix du Jockey Club, and he then ran a nice race in the Arc before that huge performance in the Champion Stakes. We always believed he was a top-class horse, and he showed his talent at Ascot. The best is yet to come with him.”
While Seailway’s Champion Stakes win was a shock for some, it certainly wasn’t for Chehboub and her family.
She said: “It wasn’t a surprise for us, he was in very good form after the Arc. He was the best two-year-old in France after his win in the Lagardere and he proved after Ascot that he was the best three-year-old. It was a crazy day, very emotional. We were so pleased with him, he’s very special.”
After Ascot, a possible trip to Hong Kong was mooted before connections decided to give him a break and target the $20million Saudi Cup as the colt’s 2022 starting point.
“It wasn’t easy to say no to Hong Kong,” said Chehboub. “He improved a lot on Champions Day and came out of the race very well. We all looked at the programme book with my father and co-owner and breeder Guy Pariente, and we thought The Saudi Cup was a good target.”
“We are planning a big international campaign,” she added. “We’re not sure exactly where yet but there is the Arc in October and I’m sure we’ll be going back to Ascot at some point. The first thing is Saudi, we’ll make a plan after that. We think 2022 is going to be a very big year for Sealiway.”
Up to now, Sealiway has only raced on turf, but Chehboub is not concerned about switching to the dirt at King Abdulaziz Racetrack, dropping back in distance from 2000m to 1800m or taking on the big guns from America and Japan.
She said: “Sealiway works on the sand in the mornings and he’s very impressive on it. We think it will suit him well, we don’t think it will be a problem. He is a very flexible horse. He has a lot of speed and we saw in the Arc that he can stay. We are confident he can adapt to different distances and tracks.”
“We love a challenge,” she added. “It’s very exciting to be a part of a race like The Saudi Cup and to meet all those great horses from America and Japan. Mishriff won it this year and he’s one of the best horses on turf in Europe, so it shows that it’s possible.”
Sealiway could be joined in Riyadh by stablemate Skazino, a two-time Group 2 winner and a fine second in the Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak last month, as well as Listed winner Kenway.
Chehboub said: “Skazino had a big season, we were very happy with him. The Red Sea Turf Handicap could be the plan for him. We will also think about the Neom Turf Cup for Kenway. If he is in good form, it would be a good starting point. There isn’t much choice at the start of the year and it’s important for owners with good horses to be a part of this meeting.”
• Visit the Saudi Cup website