Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Irish jockey Oisín Murphy pinpoints The Foxes as leading Riyadh contender against Aidan O’Brien’s Luxembourg

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The 28-year-old has clocked up the air miles this winter riding across the globe and has picked up three plum rides on Saturday’s Saudi Cup card at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse.

Murphy guided The Foxes to Dante glory for long-time training ally Andrew Balding before finishing fifth in the Derby at Epsom, and now has the chance to go one better than when narrowly denied in the Belmont Derby last July.

The King Power Racing-owned four-year-old tuned up for his Middle East assignment in the Neom Turf Cup by running on the Tapeta at Southwell, with rivals in the $2million event set to include Aidan O’Brien’s Hong Kong Cup runner-up Luxembourg.

“The Foxes had his prep race at Southwell and I’ve ridden him at home in between and Andrew is very happy with him,” said Murphy.

“I should have won a Grade One on him in America in the Belmont Derby. He got no run then, but fast ground and left-handed suits him.

“I think apart from Luxemburg, on ratings he should be bang there, and I’m really looking forward to him.”

Today’s Sport News in 90 Seconds – 20th February

Murphy also enjoyed plenty of joy aboard Kieran Cotter’s Matilda Picotte at the backend of last season and will be hoping to pick up some more prize-money aboard the top-class Irish filly.

The four-year-old has excelled over seven furlongs previously and with the trip for the $2m Turf Sprint run over a distance just shy of that number, the jockey believes a bold bid is possible.

“Matilda Picotte has a lot of speed and was brilliant last year,” continued Murphy.

“Her form in the autumn went up to another level and I think the distance is probably ideal – just under seven furlongs.

“She’s got so much natural speed and although it is a different type of track maybe to where her best performances have come – Doncaster and Newmarket – she has plenty of racing experience now and I hope I will get a nice draw on her.”

The Irishman, who away from the globetrotting is in red-hot form back on the all-weather in the UK, also rides Marco Botti’s Yorkshire Cup winner Giavellotto in the Red Sea Turf Handicap.

“Giavellotto is going to carry a lot of weight but he is a big horse and his form is really good for this sort of race,” added Murphy.

“I remember Andrea (Atzeni) winning on him at York and a repeat of that sort of performance would put him right in the mix.”

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