Trainer Roger Teal is eyeing up sending his stable star Oxted over to Saudi Arabia for his first start on dirt with the Riyadh Dirt Sprint worth $1.5million looking to be his big target.
Oxted has bounced onto the racing scene this term having showed huge promise as a juvenile when landing his final contest in September, he has gone on to do things for his handler they never thought would be possible.
After building in size and maturing for the winter, Oxted started his three year old career in the Group Three Abernant Stakes, seeing off a decent field of seven runners who have previous group race experience.
Having looked very professional at Newmarket he was sent back there for his first experience in a Group One with the July Cup over six furlongs attracting a superstar field of runners.
Roger Teal's sprinter saw off the classy group to land his first ever black type victory with his jockey, the young Cieren Fallon also landing his first ever Group One success.
Last time out the black type winner could only finish fifth of 16 runners in the Champion Sprint Stakes where he was only length behind the winner Glen Shiel, and his trainer believes that the heavy ground did not play to his strengths.
Before he starts in Britain next term, Teal is looking to take his Grade One winner international and having looked at the possibility of Hong Kong, he has now decided to send him to Saudi Arabia instead.
The Saudi Cup meeting on February 20th will be the first time that Oxted will race on anything but turf and his handler is very optimistic he will handle the dirt in the six furlong event.
(Credit ATR) Teal said: “The obvious one for us would be the Turf Sprint which is run over about six and three-quarter furlongs. I suppose his ideal trip would be six, but he has won over seven in the past so it shouldn’t be a problem.
“We will also have a look at the Riyadh Dirt Sprint too which is run over six as we know he goes so well over that distance.
“I’ve heard really good things about the quality of the dirt surface – I spoke to James Doyle who was very complimentary about it.
“Also, in the back of my mind I know that he is trained on the all-weather at home and he is a speedy horse that normally holds a prominent position, so the kick-back should be less of a concern.”
The Lambourn handler has stated that the four year old is in rude health at home and has benefitted massively from his short break after his fifth on British Champions Day.
He added: “He came back in on Monday (last week) after a short break just to freshen him up a bit. I guess it was about four weeks or so to give him some time to chill out after a busy season.
“He was out in the field during the day and came back in at night. It seems to have done him the world of good and we now start our preparations for a potential trip to Riyadh in February.
“We will wind him up slowly and gradually step up his exercise routine.”
Explaining why he chose going to Saudi Arabia instead of Hong Kong, Teal said:“The Saudi Cup meeting sits perfectly in the calendar for him as we build towards another season in the UK.
“We had the option of going to Hong Kong, but that meeting just came too late in the season for us.
“Targeting the Saudi Cup sprints allowed us to give the horse a break then bring him back. We’d love to go there and take our chance.”