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Bahrain International Trophy: Runner-by-runner guide to the £500,000 feature

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Thu 19 Nov 2020

If the second running of the £500,000 Bahrain International Trophy on Friday is half as exciting as the first, then we are In for a treat.

Rustang, representing the home team, raced in a clear lead and was still about five lengths clear approaching the final furlong until his pursuers finally got to grips with him. Royal Julius, from France, won from the John Gosden-trained Tugenev with a length eventually covering the first home.

Gosden tries again with Global Giant, who is among five British raiders. Ireland also have a couple of contenders, headed by last year’s Irish Derby winner Sovereign.

You can watch what happens (1pm) live on Racing TV. Here's a guide to the final field.

BANGKOK

Trainer: Andrew Balding. International rating: 114 SkyBet odds: 8-1

A mile and a quarter on a sound surface suits him and, absent since early July, he will be fresher than most. He’s not been the easiest to place since being a leading fancy for last year’s Derby but this represents a lowering of his sights (past two runs in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes and Coral-Eclipse) and his second in the Qatar Derby at Doha last winter showed that he’s happy on his travels.

CERTAIN LAD

Trainer: Mick Channon. International rating: 111 Odds: 8-1

Began the year with a surprise success in Dubai (at the main expense of Simsir) and beat all bar Sinjaari when 66-1 in the John Smith’s Cup at York in July. Returned to the Knavesmire in August to land the Group Three Strensall Stakes (Lord Glitters back in third) and you can put a line through his latest run in the Cambridgeshire as he was poorly drawn. Folly to dismiss.

COOLAGH FOREST

Trainer: Haider Ebrahim. International rating: 105 Odds: 50-1

He was a four-time winner for Richard Fahey last year before being sold and finishing seventh (only beaten about two lengths) for Paul D’Arcy in last year’s dramatic inaugural running of this race. He’s since switched stables again and is now trained in Bahrain. No doubt this race has been at the top of his agenda for a while but it is a deeper renewal than 12 months ago and he would be a surprise winner drawn widest of all.

Phil Smith tells us more about Friday's big race and reveals who he thinks will run well

DEIRDRE

Trainer: Mitsuru Hashida. International rating: 118 Odds: 7-1

The globetrotting Japanese-trained mare will be having her final race and, ridden by Hollie Doyle, could go out with a bang if reproducing the form that enabled her to win the Nassau Stakes last summer before an unlucky fourth to Magical in the Irish Champion Stakes. However, she’s not been at her best in any of her four races this year and it could be she’s just not the force of old.

DESERT ENCOUNTER

Trainer: David Simcock. International rating: 111 Odds: 8-1

The eight-year-old has been a fabulous flagbearer for David Simcock, with his CV including two Grade One victories in Canada. He’s been running well this year (often in small-field races which don’t suit his hold-up style) and social media footage suggests he’s enjoying his time in Bahrain. Expect Andrea Atzeni, on board for both his wins at the highest level, to smuggle him into contention late on.

DREAM CASTLE

Trainer: Saeed Bin Suroor. International rating: 110 Odds: 20-1

The strong-travelling globetrotter has not found life easy since his Group One success in the Jebel Hatta at Meydan early in 2019 and was winning for the first time since when scooping a four-runner minor event at Thirsk in August. Stepped up on that when chasing home Lady Wannabe in the Darley Stakes at Newmarket last month but others preferred, not least because all his best form has been up to nine furlongs.

GLOBAL GIANT

Trainer: John Gosden. International rating: 111 Odds: 11-2

He’s only had four races for John Gosden, having previously been trained by Ed Dunlop, and looked better than ever when beating Extra Elusive in the Listed Steventon Stakes over a mile and a quarter at Newbury in July. Not seen to best advantage when third behind the same horse and Certain Lad at Haydock last time and commands respect with Frankie Dettori in the saddle.

Lady Wannabe beats Dream Castle at Newmarket last month. The pair meet again on Friday

LADY WANNABE

Trainer: Fozzy Stack. International rating: 114 Odds: 16-1

The daughter of Camelot seemed to take her form to a new level when winning the Group Three Darley Stakes at Newmarket last month – a victory which earned her automatic qualification for this prize. The overall form of that race is questionable, although she’d also won a Listed prize before that at Listowel (subsequent Balmoral winner Najord back in fourth) and so she’s clearly in great fettle. A bit of dig in the ground suits her, so quick ground would be a niggle.

LORD GLITTERS

Trainer: David O’Meara. International rating: 113 Odds: 8-1

The popular grey has not managed to get his head in front since landing the Queen Anne Stakes last year but retains plenty of ability, chasing home Addeybb in the Doonside Cup at Ayr on his penultimate start. He’s habitually held up for a late run, so will need a decent gallop and the rub of the green in running, but this looks his trip nowadays and no surprise if he again gives a good account.

LOXLEY

Trainer: Charlie Appleby. International rating: 109 Odds: 10-1

He’s not always looked the most straightforward when it matters most, but he looked on good terms with himself when pouncing from off a steady pace to win in Listed company at Kempton this month and earlier in the year he mastered Defoe in a Group Two at Meydan, albeit the runner-up probably should have won. His best form has been over 1m4f but he’s not short of pace and, if he’s in the mood, he should go well.

PORT LIONS

Trainer: Fawzi Nass. International rating: 114 Odds: 7-1

He was vulnerable off marks in the mid 80s when running in Irish handicaps last summer but has proved a revelation in Bahrain, developing into a prolific performer and taking the scalp of Deirdre when they clashed in February. Their pre-race odds – Port Lions was 40-1 and Deirdre 4-11 – said it all but there appeared no fluke, especially as the winner was left playing catch-up after being slow away. Likely to make a bold bid to keep the prize at home from stall 1.

SIMSIR

Trainer: Fawzi Nass. International rating: 105 Odds: 25-1

His form in Dubai and Ireland this year, when trained by Michael Halford, gives him something to find, but he’s a strong traveller who has a hint of unfinished business about him. He’s come up short in Listed/handicap company on his past three starts but this will be his first start for Fawzi Nass and I would not discount him showing further improvement. Rates the pick of the outsiders.

 Sovereign won the Irish Derby last year (Focusonracing)
Sovereign won the Irish Derby last year (Focusonracing)

SOVEREIGN

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. International rating: 116 Odds: 7-2 fav

Last year’s surprise all-the-way Irish Derby winner was not among the original entries, and has been supplemented at a cost of £10,000. He was off a year after his Curragh triumph and not easy to gauge what he’s achieved this summer, including when runner-up to Enable in the King George. Has since made little impact upped in trip, seeming to find 2m too far in the Long Distance Cup last time. Equally, this trip is almost certainly on the sharp side for him.

WHAT A WELCOME

Trainer: Hesham Al Haddad. International rating: 108 Odds: 50-1

Thrived in 2018, chalking up six handicap wins and rising 28lb in the ratings to 100. The handicapper was in charge last year, though, and he looks up against it here, especially as he’s very much a middle-distance stayer.

ANDY’S VERDICT

The nature of the track, including a three-furlong straight, means the draw should not make much difference.

It’s a wide-open race with Bangkok getting the nod. He’s been off since contesting the Coral-Eclipse in July but he can go well fresh, has his optimum conditions and has his sights lowered.

Certain Lad should not be underestimated, while Lord Glitters and Desert Encounter are likely to again give their all. Simsir is the most interesting of those at fancy odds.

1 BANGKOK 2 CERTAIN LAD 3 LORD GLITTERS

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