Monday, May 27, 2024

Senor Buscador edges out Ushba Tesoro to win $20million Saudi Cup

Must read

Dubai: American horse Senor Buscador, ridden by Junior Alvarado, prevailed in a photo-finish to win the $20m The Saudi Cup as the American trainee thwarted Japanese hope Ushba Tesoro in the final strides of a spectacular contest at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh on Saturday.

Senor Buscador, who carried the colours of local owner Sharaf Mohammed Al Hariri in a deal brokered with joint-owner Joe Peacock Jr in time for this race, is trained in New Mexico by Todd Fincher.

“We got a bit unlucky the last two races on the track, very fast with speed horses, and I never like to change the style of horses. I always had faith in the horse and we just needed, not even luck, just a fair track and I knew we would get that today,” the winning jockey said.

The widely anticipated speed meltdown with a clutch of runners vying for the lead eventuated and it was noticeable how far back the first two past the post were at the halfway stage.

Both Senor Buscador and Usba Tesoro were content to bide their time after being 10 lengths off the pace forced by Saudi Crown (USA).

In the home straight, Ushba Tesoro, the reigning Dubai World Cup champion, was the first to give meaningful pursuit down the centre of the track and with 50m to race another Japanese winner in the sport’s most valuable event appeared likely.

But jockey Junior Alvarado kept asking for more from Senor Buscador, whose grit and gameness found the lead right on the line to score by a head to register his first success at Group 1 level.

‘Amazing win’

Last month he finished second to White Abarrio (USA) in the Pegasus World Cup in Florida. The winner of the latter event, White Abarrio, was strongly fancied to take the honours but could only finish tenth.

Third home was Saudi Crown, a terrific performance considering he forced the pace and kept on when others faded. The winning time checked in at 1:49.50.

Trainer Fincher, who was on the verge of tears, said: ”It’s amazing. He never got the credit he deserved and he finally got to show it today. I didn’t believe it, as something always happens to him in every race. He always has 10 or 11 horses to weave in and out of. We know he was going to run good, we just had to hope for the right set up. It’s awesome.

“From New Mexico, we don’t have the quality of horses very often but the stable is getting better now. The plan is Dubai but we will leave it up to the horse. He usually doesn’t take long to bounce back and we just need to make sure his physical health is in good shape.”

Organised by the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia (JCSA) and run at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh on the last weekend in February each year, The Saudi Cup is a two-day celebration of international racing headlined by the Group 1 $20m Saudi Cup — the world’s most valuable race. The Saudi Cup race weekend is further enhanced by an undercard of two Group 2 races and three Group 3 races for Thoroughbreds as well as two Group 1 contests for Purebred Arabians.

In addition the Saturday card features the $500,000 Saudi International Handicap for horses trained in IFHA registered Part II and III racing countries.

Spirit Dancer owned by Sir Alex Ferguson won the $2m Howden Neom Turf Cup.
Image Credit: Supplied

Dream win

Legendary former Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson had a dream of winning at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse on Saturday and the dream came true when his homebred Spirit Dancer lifted the $2m Howden Neom Turf Cup in front of a very appreciative crowd.

Ged Mason, co-owner of Sprint Dancer, said: “It’s like a dream, I have to pinch myself. For Richard [Fahey] to produce him and win as easy as he did, he was like a steam engine. Sir Alex had a dream this morning and dreamt he’d win.”

British raiders Jack Darcy and Luxembourg had ensured that there was plenty of pace in this 2,100-metre race, which allowed the Oisin Orr-partnered Spirit Dancer to relax in mid-division.

As soon as they left the final bend, the jockey pulled him out and made his way up the straight.

With 200m to go, Luxembourg had the advantage but the Fahey-trained Spirit Dancer continued to accelerate and won the race comfortably by a length from Japanese raider Killer Ability. Germany-bred Calif finished third, followed further back by Luxembourg.

Following a success in the Bahrain International Trophy in November, it took Spirit Dancer only 2:07.10 to bring the triumphant owners Sir Alex Ferguson, Ged Mason and Peter Done into another winner’s enclosure in the Middle East.

Ferguson, breeder and co-owner of Spirit Dancer, said: “It’s fantastic, after Bahrain you come here and look at the field, the performance from Oisin and the horse and Richard, it’s unbelievable. Richard made the point he hasn’t had a lot of racing, and I think we see the evidence today. Oisin said this morning the horse is improving all the time. I took a gamble a few years ago with a stud in Hemel Hampstead and the results have been very good.

“That puts his win in Bahrain in perspective. Richard gave us confidence but it is one of these things, you are never too confident.”

Latest article