Fresh from enjoying the biggest success in his still very young career, 2021 Saudi Cup-winning jockey David Egan is now hoping to add the Group 1 $5m Longines Dubai Sheema Classic to his growing record when he reunites with the John Gosden-trained Mishriff (IRE) on Saturday.
Some racing fans were surprised that the 4-year-old son of Make Believe would line up at the start of the 2400m showdown, which is run on turf, rather than in the Dubai World Cup itself, but Egan explained: “The dirt in Dubai is not the same as the dirt in Saudi and I think the mile and a half will give him a pre-test run for the upcoming season.
“Whether they are aiming him at the top mile and a half races or whether they are thinking about dropping back for the remainder of the season. I think that he will stay and the Sheema Classic should be an exciting race.”
The 2021 season looks very promising for the 21-year-old jockey, who despite being the retained rider to Prince A A Faisal since 2020 was not on board Mishriff when he lifted the Prix du Jockey Club, also known as the French Derby, at Chantilly last year. Neither was he in Deauville when he won the Prix Guillaume d’Ornano, nor when he ran disappointingly in the Champion Stakes at Ascot.
“I won a Listed race with him at Newmarket and after that he was going for the French Derby, but by the time we knew he was going to France, I couldn’t quarantine anymore,” the jockey who spent most of the winter in Bahrain explained. “The following time, I got a four-day suspension, and I couldn’t move one of the days so I could definitely not ride him when Frankie rode him in Deauville. And the time after that, in the Champion Stakes, the Prince and Mr Gosden decided that they wanted Frankie to ride him. He got beat and ran a bit disappointingly and then Prince Faisal requested me not long after that to ride him in the Saudi Cup.”
It couldn’t have been easy to see other jockeys win on a horse that means the world to him but despite his young age, he is quite philosophical when he adds: “Whatever I was to do wouldn’t change the fact that I wasn’t going to be riding him. It was obviously fate that I wasn’t meant to ride him on the other occasions. I’m not superstitious, but I believe the fact that I didn’t ride him in the other races could have been a factor that I did ride him in the Saudi Cup and that we won the race. Maybe, if I had ridden him before and he got beat and ran bad, things might have gone differently for Mishriff and he might not have won the Saudi Cup. Things happen for a reason.”
Mishriff is not the only ride he will have on Dubai World Cup night, as he is also booked to ride the Ed Dunlop-trained Red Verdon (GB) in the Dubai Gold Cup Sponsored by Al Tayer Motors, the Simon Crisford-trained Court House (IRE) in the Dubai Turf Sponsored by DP World, as well as Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Ambassadorial (USA) in the Godolphin Mile Sponsored by Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City – District One.
“I’m very excited,” he concluded. “And if I win the Sheema Classic, I won’t be complaining about the 10 days I will have to spend in quarantine in a hotel in England, will I?”