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Irishman John Oxx is not a trainer who ships horses abroad for the sake of the trip and change of scenery. He ships them only when they have a winning chance. As an example, when he won the Epsom Derby (G1) with Sinndar in 2000, it was also his first runner in the premier classic. And when he sent Ridgewood Pearl across the Atlantic to win the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) back in 1995, she was his first starter at the meeting. So when Oxx now has his sight on the Dubai Gold Cup (G3) with Saddler's Rock, one should take note.
Saddler's Rock, rather a small but very strong horse, is a very classy stayer. Already quite accomplished, he is open to further improvement, and he will probably be one of the leading players in this Gold Cup. Don't worry too much about his defeat first time out at Meydan. It came in a slowly run race that did not suit him and it was just a prep big the big task ahead, a pipe opener if you like.
He first made his mark outside Ireland when beating Opinion Poll in the 2011 Doncaster Cup (G2) in England, one of the most important cup races in the racing calendar. Saddler's Rock immediately became one of the future favourites for last year's Ascot Gold Cup (G1) and he ran a good race at the Royal meeting. Softish ground and lack of pace worked against him though, and he had to settle for third place, behind the Godolphin duo Colour Vision and Opinion Poll. John Oxx sent him back to England a few weeks later, and saddler's Rock was successful in the Goodwood Cup (G2) over 2 miles (about 3200 metres). That win was his high point in 2012, when he record was solid rather than brilliant.
An unusually wet summer was not what his connections had hoped for, as this stayer is at his best on good and good to firm ground. Such conditions are often found at Meydan, where the Gold Cup distance will also suit him. He was fifth to Ahzeemah in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy (G3) over 2800 metres on March 2, when other Gold Cup hopefuls Certerach, Star Empire and Tenenbaum also beat him. Saddler's Rock is capable of gaining revenge on them all. He will be fitter on the big day, and he will be seen to much better effect over 3200 metres, particularly if a strong pace brings stamina into play.
This is a young progressive stayer representing Godolphin and trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni. He was only fourth behind the Saeed bin Suroor trained AHZEEMAH in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy (G3) over 2800 metres on March 2 (when Saddler's Rock was fifth), but the winner had the benefit of two previous runs this winter, and Tenenbaum stayed on nicely at the finish.
It was a satisfactory return to action for this son of English Derby winner Authorized. Tenenbaum was trained by Andre Fabre in France last year, when he showed his best form by defeating the solid older stayer Brigantin in the Prix de Reux (LR) over 2500 metres at Deauville, and closed out his season by finishing third behind Canticum in the Prix Chaudenay (G2) over 3100 metres at Longchamp in October (both these races were on very soft ground).
Tenenbaum also won smaller races in the provinces on good to soft and heavy ground in France, and he seems to be a horse who prefers a bit of give underfoot. Give him softish ground and a stiffer test of stamina, and he will most likely turn the tables on Ahzeemah.
Last update: 2013-03-23 06:29:40 (First published: 2013-03-08 05:06:18 )
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