The John Gosden trained Mishriff (IRE), who is named after his owner Prince A A Faisal’s best friend, went one better than his second place finish in last year’s Saudi Derby when he caught Charlatan (USA) in the final 100m to win the US $20 million The Saudi Cup, the world’s most valuable race.
Ridden by the 21-year-old Irish jockey David Egan, he beat the Bob Baffert trained Charlatan by a length, with Great Scot (GB) finishing a further six and a half lengths back in third.
Drawn wide, the four-year-old son of Make Believe got himself into a good position behind the leading pair of Charlatan and Knicks Go, who set a good pace. Launched in the final bend, Mishriff picked up the grey Knicks Go, who would eventually finish in fourth position, fairly easily and then went after Charlatan.
Big-race rider Mike Smith was hard at work on Charlatan but could do nothing against a determined Mishriff, who covered the 1800 metres on the King Abdulaziz dirt track in 1:49.59.
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2021 Saudi Cup Replay
Egan, who is the retained jockey of Prince Faisal, had not been able to partner the colt when he lifted the Prix du Jockey Club – the French Derby – in June last year, because of travel restrictions due to Covid-19 and was obviously delighted to win this important race. His father John Egan, himself an accomplished Group 1 winning jockey, was there to witness his son’s greatest success.
“I’ve been dreaming all my life of winning a race like this,” Egan said. “Obviously it is the highest thing I will win for a while now; the Saudi Cup is the richest race in the world. I’d like to thank Prince Faisal, Mr. Gosden, all of his team, Thady is here, Ted Voute – there are so many people to thank, and Mishriff most of all. He’s the champion.”
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert was happy with Charlatan’s effort as the beaten favorite. The colt came into the race perfect in four starts, winning the Malibu at Santa Anita in his last outing on Dec. 26.
“I was very proud of his effort,” Baffert said. “Going in, we thought he would run his race. Turning for home, we knew they were going pretty fast early. He’s a fast horse, but that stretch – I’m glad we don’t have any stretches like that in America.”
“He’s just so lightly raced this year and the way the racetrack was playing all day, I got a little concerned because speed wasn’t holding all day long,” added Charlatan’s jockey Mike Smith. “He’s only ran once and it was a seven-eighths race. He got really tired. If he’d had two races, I think he’d win.”
Mishriff returned his backers $41.60 to win. The $2 exacta paid $139.20.