The most prestigious raceday in the Bahrain horseracing season takes place today. The day boasts a strong card with two listed contests: the feature race His Majesty The King’s Cup, sponsored by Bapco, and Al Methaq Mile.
The race will be held under the patronage of His Majesty King Hamad.
A star-studded field of 14 horses go to post in The King’s Cup. Godolphin have two representatives in the race with Passion And Glory (IRE) lining up for trainer Saeed bin Suroor. The seven-year-old son of Cape Cross has shown good form in Bahrain already this season when finishing second behind stablemate Dubai Future in the Group 3 Bahrain International Trophy in November. Daniel Tudhope, who won the Bahrain International Trophy aboard Dubai Future, will take the ride.
Godolphin’s other runner in the race is the Charlie Appleby-trained First Ruler (GB) who will be ridden by British champion jockey William Buick. Appleby is no stranger to big race wins in Bahrain following a double at The Crown Prince’s Cup meeting last month and he will be looking to continue his winning ways today.
First Ruler was last seen when winning in good style at Meydan last month and his trainer hopes he can back that up with another victory today. On his chances, Appleby said: “First Ruler has got a progressive profile. This is his first test at listed level so we will learn a bit more about him. His profile is going the right way that he doesn’t look out of place at this level, but we will be wiser afterwards. The track and conditions should suit him.”
Appleby also sends over Modern News (GB) who takes his chances in Al Methaq Mile. On Modern News Appleby added: “Modern News is a solid campaigner; I was delighted with his last start at Meydan and stepping back up to a mile will suit him. With a nice draw, I think he is the one they’ve got to beat. He has got a penalty, but I think he can overcome that, and conditions will suit him.”
A host of top-quality horses trained in Bahrain feature in The King’s Cup. Leading jockey Neil Callan, who has enjoyed much success during his time in Bahrain, teams up with last year’s winner Zagato (GB) for trainer Fawzi Nass. Nass saddles eight of the 14 runners with Callan able to take his pick of the Al Mohamediya Racing runners.
On his decision to ride Zagato, Callan said: “Zagato won this race last year. I feel he’s at the same level this time round. He has been primed for this race. He didn’t start until a bit later this season, and I feel as though he is peaking at the right time. It’s always a very difficult decision when you have the likes of The Covex Kid (IRE) and Encourage (GB) who I’ve won multiple races on both. It’s a massive day’s racing and it’s the last big, prestigious race of the season in Bahrain. It would be nice to go out on a high with a winner.”
The King’s Cup is a race that has gone from strength to strength and the quality of horse required to be competitive has increased over the last few years. Callan added: “It’s now internationally recognised as a listed race which is good for Bahrain racing. You’re looking at horses who are rated 100 or above, so it just goes to show the level of horse you need to have.”
Of the other Bahrain-trained horses, Allan Smith has two in the race for Al Adiyat Racing: Rayounpour (IRE) and Recovery Run (GB). On their chances Smith said: “Recovery Run and Rayounpour have both been in and out of form this season, but they’re both working well so we’re hopeful. It’s a tough old race! The competition is getting much better in Bahrain and the strength of the horses is amazing in the last three years. We love the competition that’s what it’s all about, it makes everyone get better horses and improve their stable.”
Smith added: “This is the raceday of our season. It always has been The King’s Cup. It’s the equivalent to Royal Ascot; it’s the pinnacle of racing in Bahrain.”
The feature race, The King’s Cup, will be available to watch live on Racing TV and via live stream on The Bahrain Turf Club website at 3.45pm, Bahrain time.