World-class jockey Olivier Peslier had to use all his experience to weave his way between horses on the Freddy Head-trained Call The Wind (GB) to win Saturday’s $2,500,000 Longines Turf Handicap at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack.
Call The Wind recorded a two-and-a-half length success which seemed somewhat unlikely with 600m left to race as the six-year-old was placed sixth at that stage. However, Peslier maintained his patience and Call The Wind, a son of the legendary Frankel, won quite impressively at the finish.
Victory in the third race on the turf track of the evening went to the legendary French trainer, following two wins earlier on the card for Bahrain-based trainers. Head’s current stable star showed his versatility for varying ground conditions as he relished the new turf surface in Riyadh.
British challenger Mekong (GB), also a son of Frankel, finished strongly under Jamie Spencer to claim second place for trainer Jamie Osborne, while the globetrotting Prince Of Arran (GB) ran another fine race for trainer Charlie Fellowes.
Freddy Head, trainer, Call The Wind, 1st: “Call The Wind showed how good he is there. He was able to quicken on that ground, which I wasn’t sure about. We had a lovely run, but I know that horse is not an easy horse to ride as he goes in snatches in the race. He goes well, then he has nothing and he can be a bit of a lazy sort but Olivier gave him a great, great ride. He stays and has a lot of stamina so Oliver chose to stay on the rail and do his race like that. It’s funny because this horse is six now but I think he has improved. In his mind he is a much better and nicer horse to train. He was very difficult to train early on and wouldn’t go into the stalls and that was why he didn’t run much at three. I think he’s still improving.”
Oliver Peslier, jockey, Call The Wind: “I’m very happy with the horse. He’s a Group 1 horse and you need a Group 1 horse to come to this race in Saudi Arabia, and if you are not Group 1 you cannot win. I’m very happy with the ground on the turf track. After three months when you see what the team has done here, they’ve worked very hard and done a fantastic job. I have ridden here for a very, very long time and at the other track and I see the construction here and it’s very good.”
Jamie Spencer, jockey, Mekong, 2nd: “He’s always a step slow from the barrier. I was pleased with how the pace was. He ran a very brave race. No real excuses.”
James Doyle, jockey, Prince of Arran, 3rd: “It went great, a nice pace, I had a good position and he’s run another great race. He’s grown up a lot and he is running very consistently now so I am very pleased.”
Charlie Fellowes, trainer, Prince of Arran: “He ran a great race, did everything right, had a good position. They went hard, I think they’ve gone a good clip which has played into our hands. He is a strong stayer and he is just a lovely honest horse. He’s run brilliant.”
Rest of jockey quotes:
William Buick, Cross Counter, 5th: “He ran a good race. He had a lot of weight to carry. I think that’s all.”
Wayne Lordan, Twilight Payment, 7th: “I ran OK. I didn’t travel any step of the way, but he kept going, he tries hard. I wasn’t good enough on the day, but he tries.”
Mike Smith, Hibou, 8th: “You know the ground has a lot more give in it than I was expecting. He just didn’t handle it very good. He didn’t run too bad, but he didn’t like it.”
Mickael Barzalona, Dee Ex Bee, 10th: “It was very disappointing. I have no idea. I’m going to check with the trainer.”
Joe Fanning, King’s Advice, 11th: “He travelled well and he ran a good race, he just finished off. It was a tough race, no excuses really.”