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The Saudi Cup Festival
The Obaiya Arabian Classic
Group 1 PA - 200m
US $2,000,000
Tilal Al Khalediah and Saad Mutlaq Mishref
 ©Debbie Burt
You can always rely on a strong challenge from the home team in an international race, none more so than in the Obaiya Arabian Classic presented by Lexus at 18.25pm (local time) this evening. HRH Prince Khaled bin Sultan in Abdul-Aziz Al Saud’s Al Khalediah Stables fields three runners, with Mutwakel Alkhalediah hoping to go one better than his previous second and third placings in the race so far.

All three are trained by Saad Mutlaq Mishref and with Tilal Al Khalediah a near ten length winner of the Prince Sultan World Cup (Gr1PA) last month, he could be the one to deny Mutwakel again. As a four-year-old, the colt will have a useful weight for age allowance against the older more experienced horses and bar his juvenile debut, he is unbeaten in all his starts since.
Deryan ©Debbie Burt
Kahayla Classic winner and last years’ fifth, Deryan, heads the fourteen runners declared. The seven-year-old son of Mahabb has been pleasing connections during morning trackwork with his trainer Didier Guillemin (who had arrived on Wednesday) saying: “I’m very happy with him. He looks well and I think I have him in better shape than last year. He seems relaxed, not as nervous as last year. The only thing I’m worried about is the ground. I think the dirt is deeper here than in Dubai, which goes against him.” 

Thierry Delegue, manager of Yas Horse Racing Management, the owner of Deryan, Harrab and Teema (fourth in yesterday’s Al Mneefah Cup) was on the track on Thursday morning. He commented: “Like always, he looks brilliant. He is a horse who loves to travel and who looks like he is improving with each day he is out here. He is more relaxed than last year when he got worked up before the race for reasons we still don’t comprehend.”

The horse’s constant overseas travelling companion, the trainer’s daughter, Clemence, who is clearly devoted to Deyan, said of her charge: “I know him perfectly. Though he is a stallion, he doesn’t bite. It’s a real pleasure to ride and care for him.”

The team behind Deryan is confident, with his trainer believing he has kept him relaxed, whilst his daughter thinks he is in the same form that saw him win in Dubai. His racing manager agrees saying: “We come to Ridyah with big ambitions!” 
Hadi De Carrere © Debbie Burt
Another French challenger with high hopes will be Thomas Fourcy, fresh from his success in the HH The Amir Sword with Lady Princess, his Hadi de Carrere runs in the same colours of Khalifa bin Sheail Al Kuwari. The five-year-old returned from a ten-month absence to be a close fifth to Deryan at Pau in January. Though his jockey Olivier Peslier expressed reservations regarding a return to this level after an enforced break, the colt has been training well in Riyadh and as a lightly raced individual, still has the scope to improve further.
RB Rich Lyke Me © Debbie Burt
Following First Classs’s win in the Al Mneefah yesterday, followers of American Arabian racing will be hoping to do the double with RB Rich Lyke Me. A six-year-old son of Majd Al Arab, he is yet to tackle the 2000m trip but has been very effective since joining Fawzi Nass’s satellite stable in Dubai, winning two Group races by impressive margins. Nass owns him in partnership with Victorious having sourced the horse from his breeder Diane Waldron of Rosebrook Farms for whom he won four Grade 3 races. 

RB Rich Lyke Me is a grandson of Frynch who was inducted into the Arabian Jockey Club’s Hall of Fame last year, joining her dam Fryga. Bred by Waldron in partnership with Willie J. Linahan she was foaled in France and then imported to Rosebrook Farm in Brooksville, Florida. She gained the Darley Champion four-year-old filly title and since retiring to stud has produced many Darley Award winners.
First Classs ©Debbie Burt
First Classs’s trainer Alban de Mieulle might not have as strong a hand as he did on Friday’s card, but with his stable in red hot form it would be foolish to discount his two runners Sealine and Zalej Al Cham, though in this field they will need to improve to make the headlines this evening.
2022 Obaiya Arabian Classic trophies ©Andrew Grossick
The Arabian Racehorse -
Gulf Festival Special Edition

Produced in support of the HH The Amir Sword Festival and The Saudi Cup

Interviews with:

Mohammed & Abdulla bin Fahad Al Attiyah regarding their horses aimed at both meetings

ARO CEO Genny Haynes talks about the new era for UK Arabian racing

Equine MediRecord's CEO Pierce Dargan discusses how their system is helping horsemen compete globally

Trainer Phil Collington compares the different challenges of racing at both meetings
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