Thursday 19 April 2018

Oxx insists Saddler's ready to rock in Dubai Gold Cup

Thomas Kelly

SADDLER'S ROCK completed his preparations for Saturday's Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan with a spin on the grass track yesterday.

The five-year-old appeared to be a possible staying star when finishing third in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and subsequently winning the Goodwood Cup in 2012.

However, he lost his way a little after that, failing to win in three starts before also disappointing when only fifth on his Dubai debut earlier this month.

Trainer John Oxx retains plenty of faith in his charge, though, and reports him to have made plenty of progress since that return.

"He worked on the grass this morning and went well. That will be the last serious piece of work before the race," said Oxx.

Aidan O'Brien's Meydan challengers have arrived safely. The champion trainer has sent five horses for the big meeting, headed by Sheema Classic contender St Nicholas Abbey, and the quintet flew into Dubai on Tuesday.

St Nicholas Abbey is joined by Dubai Gold Cup-bound Imperial Monarch, Al Quoz Sprint challenger Starspangledbanner, Golden Shaheen runner Reply and UAE Derby contender Lines Of Battle.

The horses will all be able to make their first visit to the track today.

"This is a very professional outfit and the horses were quick to settle in. All the horses looked happy in the climate and were not stressed at all," said the Dubai Racing Club's international supervisor Jim Cornes.

Sole Power enjoyed himself in some light work on the all-weather ahead of the five-furlong Al Quoz Sprint on the turf – a race in which he finished second last year.

He warmed up for the task with a recent second behind the reopposing Shea Shea at Meydan earlier this month and is set to be partnered by Johnny Murtagh once again.

Edward Lynam's charge was a shock 100/1 winner of the Nunthorpe Stakes in 2010 but, while he has run some excellent races in defeat since, he has managed only two wins in a Haydock Group Two and a Doncaster Listed event.

Mike De Kock was scheduled to work his team at 8.0 but he elected to exercise at a neighbouring training facility in order to avoid the media throng.

The South African maestro's Shea Shea readily outpointed Sole Power in his trial earlier this month and is as short as 13/8 for the Al Quoz.

Irish Independent

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