If Frankie Dettori steers Great Scot (GB) to victory in the $12m Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline on Saturday, he will not only achieve an individual milestone in equaling Jerry Bailey’s win record but will also score a historic first triumph in the race for Saudi Arabia.
A total of 24 Saudi Arabian runners have lined up for the race since its inception in 1996 but the closest to victory was the Jerry Barton trained Sei Mi, who got within four-and-a-quarter lengths of Street Cry in 2002.
Now Great Scot, an impressive third in last month’s Saudi Cup, bids to address this deficit with Dettori gunning for a fourth Dubai World Cup win. The 2019 English and German Guineas runner was a Group 3 winner in the UK when under the care of Tom Dascombe.
“He ran a great race in The Saudi Cup last month, it’s a good ride to get,” said Dettori, whose three Dubai World Cup victories came courtesy of Dubai Milennium (2000) Moon Ballad (2003) and Electrocutionist (2006). “The surface and trip will suit him and he’s done nothing wrong in his prep for this race.”
The horse’s owner, HRH Prince Faisal Bin Khaled, himself a horseman, was hopeful of a good result for Saudi Arabia.
“I’m particularly excited about this horse, he has really taken to the track and conditions in Riyadh and his form here has been so consistent,” he said. “I’m delighted he got to show how good he is against the internationals and the USA dirt horses.
“We are honoured to receive the invite to the Dubai World Cup and to represent Saudi Arabia on the world stage and, you never know, perhaps bring home a first win for the country.
“Hopefully there will be many more opportunities for Saudi owners, trainers and jockeys to showcase their talents on the global stage in years to come.”
Trainer Abdullah Mishriff, who travelled to Meydan Racecourse, was upbeat about the gelding’s chances: “He is a light horse, easy to get fit, quite straightforward. He is very sensitive and he likes his routine, likes his own groom with him all the time but he’s settled in very well here.
“He has a smart mind and if you treat him well, he gives you absolutely 100%. We see this in his work and in his races. He was injured after breaking from the stalls in the Saudi Cup last year when he was struck into by another horse.
“It goes to show how tough he is that he even finished the race to be honest. He went on to win three races in a row after that and showed he is the proper horse that we have always thought him to be.”
Indeed, the son of Requinto has some solid form. He was a Group 3 winner in the UK, winning his maiden first time out and went on to win a novice and a Listed race as a juvenile. His 2-year-old career culminated with a great run in a strong renewal of the Vertem Futurity Trophy (Former Racing Post Trophy), finishing only one-and-a-quarter lengths behind Magna Grecia – who went on to win the English 2000 Guineas – and Phoenix Of Spain, the Irish Guineas winner.
Great Scot continued to keep the best of company into his 3-year-old career, finishing second to the classy Mohaather in the Group 3 Greenham Stakes, a trial for the 2000 Guineas.
Also behind Great Scot in this race was Urban Icon, now under the same ownership and stable of HRH Prince Faisal Bin Khaled in Riyadh and heading the field in the Godolphin Mile on Saturday.
After decent runs in two European Classics, Great Scot was bought privately by Ted Voute on behalf of Prince Faisal.
“He ticked all the boxes for what we were looking for,” said Voute. “He was a high-class individual and had the profile for Saudi. He could handle cut in the ground, which is always a good sign that the dirt track in Riyadh would suit.”