A 14-RUNNER field, with star attraction Nation’s Pride as the leading contender, will compete in the $1m 2023 Bahrain International Trophy at the Rashid Equestrian and Horseracing Club’s (REHC) racecourse in Sakhir this afternoon.
The race has attracted overseas-trained horses from Great Britain, Ireland, France and the UAE, as well as two locally-trained runners and will be broadcast to more than 110 countries.
There are plenty of familiar names to racing fans with Britain and Ireland strongly represented. Godolphin’s four challengers include last year’s winner, Dubai Future, while two locally trained runners will be trying to keep the raiding party at bay.
Racing TV’s form expert Andy Stephens provides a guide to all the contenders and explains why he thinks Nation’s Pride is an odds-on favourite to win.
ABOVE THE CURVE (Ireland) – Trainer: Joseph O’Brien; Jockey: Maxime Guyon
She’s a tremendously reliable filly, winning at the highest level in France last year and running numerous other good races at the top level, including a close fourth in the Fillies & Mares’ at Ascot last time.
ASTRO KING (Great Britain) – Trainer: Daniel & Claire Kubler; Jockey: Richard Kingscote
Something of a “nearly horse” for much of his career – including twice being placed in the Royal Hunt Cup – but arrives here after successive big handicap wins.
BIRR CASTLE (France) – Trainer: Andre Fabre; Jockey: Mickael Barzalona
The French challenger has won two Listed races this year, but his best effort was clearly when ¾-length third to Ace Impact in the Prix Guillaume d’Ornano at Deauville in August.
CALIF (Bahrain) – Trainer: Fawzi Nass; Jockey: Adrie De Vries
The big hope of the home team, having been bought for €400,000 since gaining his second pattern-race win of the year in Germany last time.
DUBAI FUTURE (UAE) – Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor ; Jockey: Kieran Shoemark
Dug deep in the closing stages to win this prize last year, having finished eighth 12 months earlier. Unlikely to give up his crown without a fight and won’t lack for freshness.
HIGHLAND AVENUE (UAE) – Trainer: Charlie Appleby; Jockey: James Doyle
The imposing grey snapped a barren run in style when gaining an emphatic success in the Darley Stakes at Newmarket month.
ISRAR (Great Britain) – Trainer: John & Thady Gosden; Jockey: Jim Crowley
John Gosden saddled the runner-up in the first two renewals of the race and will be hoping Israr can avenge those defeats. He probably didn’t get the credit he deserved when running away with the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket in July.
LAFAYETTE (Ireland) – Trainer: Noel Meade; Jockey: Colin Keane
He must have given his connections plenty of fun over the years, winning or being placed in 20 of his 34 races.
MARHABA YA SANAFI (France) – Trainer: Andreas Shultz; Jockey: Christian Demuro
Won the French 2000 Guineas at Longchamp (by a short neck from Isaac Shelby) in May and kept on well when six lengths third to Ace Impact in the French Derby at Chantilly the following month.
NATION’S PRIDE (UAE) – Trainer: Charlie Appleby; Jockey: William Buick
The globetrotting four-year-old is the class act in this line-up, having skipped another crack at the Breeders’ Cup turf to run here. Remarkably, he is seeking to win in a sixth different country, having already won prizes in England, Dubai, America, Germany and Canada.
POINT LONSDALE (Ireland) – Trainer: Aidan O’Brien; Jockey: Ryan Moore
He’s slipped down the pecking order at Ballydoyle since winning his first four races as a juvenile, not helped by an injury that kept him off track for much of 2022.
QAADER (Bahrain) – Trainer: Fawzi Nass; Jockey: Alberto Sanna
He was a progressive performer for Mark Johnston in 2021 and made a promising start for Fawzi Nass at the start of the following year.
REAL WORLD (UAE) – Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor; Jockey: Oisin Murphy
Thrived in 2021 and at the start of the next year, when he won his first five races on turf. Later in 2022, he progressed further when chasing home Baaeed in the Lockinge Stakes plus the Queen Anne.
SPIRIT DANCER (Great Britain) – Trainer: Richard Fahey; Jockey: Oisin Orr
Part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, Spirit Dancer has come a long way since losing his first four races in handicaps when rated in the low 80s.
THE VERDICT – It’s difficult to get away from Nation’s Pride, who has the best form and his optimum conditions.
1 NATION’S PRIDE. 2 ABOVE THE CURVE. 3 BIRR CASTLE.
The race will begin at 3.05 pm.