Saudi Crown “Grown Up A Lot” Since Breeders’ Cup

At 0h02, on February 20, 2024 By The Saudi Cup

FMQ Stables owner Faisal Al Qahtani tasted success on Saudi Cup night last year with Commissioner King in the Group 3 Boutique Group Saudi Derby, and this year has a live chance in the world’s most valuable race with Saudi Crown.

The flashy grey son of Kentucky Derby winner, Always Dreaming was last seen winning the G3 Louisiana Stakes cosily, having previously finished down the field in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita, and Al Qahtani sounds confident that Saudi Crown is back on the right path for this weekend’s Riyadh showpiece.

“We will see a different horse from the one that we saw in the Breeders’ Cup,” said owner Al Qahtani.

“He’s grown up a lot since that run and we feel he’s much better. His prep race was very pleasing, and he can step forward from that. The 2000m trip was right at the limit of what he could achieve at that time (at the Breeders’ Cup), and I think the step back to 1800m is ideal. He can be a champion at this distance.

“The preparation for Saudi Crown has been great and I know Brad Cox is very happy with the horse, so we are all waiting and excited to see him after he’s settled in and begins trackwork.”

Confirming his jockey for the $20 million contest, Al Qahtani said: “Florent Geroux will definitely be back on-board Saudi Crown. He’s ridden him in all bar one of his races, so Saudi Crown is his buddy really.”

Al Qahtani is under no illusions that next Saturday’s contest looks a strong renewal, though:

“This year’s race looks the greatest in the history of The Saudi Cup, so we’re well aware of the challenge. Even the reserves are very strong.

“I think the pace is going to be strong. Imagining the race, I can see Saudi Crown and National Treasure leading because they have a lot of natural speed, but that’s just my personal view. I haven’t discussed with the trainer or the rest of the team yet.”

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