The richest horse race in the world, the $ 20 million Saudi Cup, will take place for the second time on Saturday. The kingdom did what it is known for, built a state-of-the-art facility, and threw in a ton of money at an event. The race fits into the region’s racing calendar and offers competition for the other Gulf States hosting their racing festivals at this time of year. It is a two day meeting with a variety of events. We're here to focus on Saturday's main attraction – here is your analysis and pick of the Saudi Cup gambling games.
The King Abdulaziz course in Riyadh is a new track so we don't have a lot of data, but in this case we don't really need it. It's your standard left-handed dirt oval, the 9f event takes place around a curve. Jockeys were very polite about the finish and the lack of setback. In short, there are no excuses here. There isn't a huge field, so everyone should be able to drive their race. Maximum Security won last year after tracking the pace. Midnight Misu finished second after coming from earlier. The nine furlong trip seemed like a real test, so I would want a horse with a bit of stamina and courage. Try giving the undercard a watch if you can. There are cues on both days, and you can pan if there is an obvious trend.
Charlatan – 7/4. Coached by Bob Baffert, Charlatan is 4 to 4. After missing the Triple Crown races due to injury, he returned from an eight-month hiatus and won the Malibu Stakes at Gulfstream in January. That was over seven furlongs, but the horse won that trip and that Malibu win was impressive. He could be anything and is a worthy favorite.
Knicks Go – 9/4. Brad Cox trains this Pegasus World Cup winner. I found his Breeders Cup Dirt Mile win even more impressive as I went wire to wire and set up a track record. He'll be the one to catch and set a daunting standard.
Mishriff – 6/1. He has not been seen since graduating from the Champions Stakes at Ascot. The horse overcame traffic to impressively win the Prix du Jockey Club and coach John Gosden said he would like a big draw to stay behind and determine his position. I think the layoff and lack of experience with big racing dirt might prove to be too much to overcome here.
Tacitus – 11/1. Took that race last year and was always close to the front without really getting competitive. The horse doesn't have a record in class 1 and I think we can expect more of it here.
Military Law – 12/1. He won a class 2 in Meydan and won it really well, even though he previously ended up behind horses that weren't good enough to make it through.
Chuwa Assistant – 14/1. I'm interested in the Japanese attacker. Won an invite here by winning the Grade 1 Champions Cup via today's trip to Chukyo. He traveled well and came home from midfield to comfortably win. If anything is coming from behind, this could be the one.
Max player – 16/1. (Pictured) Became an SGPN Favorite after filling exotic placements in last year's Belmont Stakes. He was the only horse to compete in all three triple crown races and run with credit each time. We are getting it now, however. Max Player is doing well and is fifth.
Sleepy Eyes Todd is admirable but won't win today. Bangkok has taken an interesting path after winning the Lingfield Winter Derby Trial in the UK. This is a big leap in class, however, and it's hard to see he's committed to the finish. The British phenomenon Hollie Doyle rides Extra elusive Whoever has G2 and G3 wins, but on a line through Mishriff is against here. Alzahzaah represents the Saudis here, but nothing else.
Knicks Go has the form in the book and will take time. The presence of Charlatan also makes Knicks Go an attractive price. I think he'll slide off the front and come home untouched. Charlatan has to pull out of the corner and may be picked up by closers for a seat. Military law showed class and good attitude if he doesn't try to judge with Knicks Go he could stay for a small price. Chuwa assistant represents an element of the unknown, but didn't do much wrong last time. If the front runners cut each other's throats, he could fly late and throw in the money. Good luck.
Saudi Cup gambling selection
1st – Knicks Go 9/4
2. Military Law 12/1
3. Chuwa Assistant 14/1
The Saudi Cup meeting is covered by Fox Sports (USA) and Sky Sports (Great Britain).
Cheltenham Festival betting tips