Mishriff trains ahead of the 2020 Saudi Derby Cup at King Abdulaziz Racetrack

Mishriff trains ahead of the 2020 Saudi Derby Cup at King Abdulaziz Racetrack

Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Doug De Felice

Egan to Reunite With Mishriff for Saudi Cup

Jockey rode the group 1 winner to a runner-up finish in last year's Saudi Derby Cup.

John Gosden believes a wide draw could be key to Mishriff's chance in the Saudi Cup, in which David Egan is set to renew his partnership with the Prix du Jockey Club (G1) winner in Riyadh next month.

Egan, retained rider to owner Prince Faisal, missed out on Mishriff's last three runs due to a myriad of circumstances including COVID-19 travel restrictions and a short suspension, with Ioritz Mendizabal and Frankie Dettori deputizing, but will be back on board for the second running of the $20 million Saudi Cup Feb. 20.

Mishriff, Egan, and Gosden are no strangers to Riyadh after they finished second in the Samba Saudi Derby Cup last year, with the now 4-year-old recovering well after a slow start from stall 12.

Gosden was "thrilled" with that effort, which amounts to valuable dirt experience before tackling the world's richest race, while the trainer also believes another wide draw would be "very advantageous" for the battle with the leading U.S. contenders.

"He did have the benefit of a wide draw," Gosden said. "David and I discussed it before then, and I said if he breaks a little slow, which is slightly his manner, just take your time and stay out there.

"He stayed out there and had a lovely run, eased into the bend, ran on strongly, and simply ran out of ground in the end. We were thrilled with the way Mishriff ran.

"This race is run on the dirt, and it's run at a very different tempo. I just asked the owner if he'd be kind enough to make sure we get a nice wide draw.

"The American horses break, that's their game. They're very fast over the first quarter, and you really don't want to be getting in behind all of that. Our horses don't break as well; it's not our style, and then if you get a face full of dirt, that's what stops the turf horses when they switch. They're just not used to taking all that kickback, and that's why a wide draw would be very advantageous."

Mishriff, as short as 14-1 for this year's Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1), reeled off three wins in a row during the European turf season, including the Prix du Jockey Club, but he must bounce back from a disappointing eighth in the QIPCO Champion Stakes (G1) at Ascot, a performance Gosden blames on the ground.

He said: "Ascot was unfortunate with the ground. I strongly feel they should have switched to the hurdle track, which was riding on the easy side of good to soft and would have been fabulous racing. All of our horses got stuck in the bog.

"He's not a horse who requires a massive amount of work, so he's the right type to be getting ready so early in the year."

Similarly to Egan, Gosden, who also plans to run Global Giant in the Middle Distance Turf Cup and New Treasure in the Saudi Derby after his move from Jim Bolger, was impacted by COVID-19 travel restrictions last season when missing Enable's final run in the Arc, but the Newmarket-based trainer is hopeful of attending the Saudi Cup if it remains a feasible option.

He added: "(David) didn't have a great run of it, and every time we wanted him to ride, he was either suspended or stuck for all the quarantining, and that's when Mr. Dettori decided to take up residence in Deauville, and obviously Mendizabal rode him in the Prix du Jockey Club when no one was able to go there then.

"It was a very difficult year, and there's no doubt we're in another difficult year from that point, but the great thing is, we're racing behind closed doors, and so long as we can keep that going in our bio-secure environment, we have to be pleased."