As dream starts to a new career go, winning the Dubai Sheema Classic with Mishriff would be hard to beat for Thady Gosden.
A regular presence on racecourses in recent years representing his father John, he now shares the British licence at Clarehaven Stables in Newmarket.
The team enjoyed a first winner on a joint ticket at Lingfield on Friday -and while Mishriff runs solely in Gosden senior’s name in Dubai, it is the younger man who has been overseeing preparations at Meydan.
“He takes everything in his stride,” he said, of Mishriff.
“He travelled very well to Saudi and enjoyed the training out there, and it’s been the same here.
“I think he likes the routine of coming out on to the track, doing a lap and going back in. It’s nothing too stressful at all.
“He’s still holding his condition well from all the travelling. Obviously its a pretty long way there and back, and then a month later come back out here, but he’s taken it all very well so far – we’ll find out on Saturday.”
As well as winning connections a fortune, Mishriff proved his versatility in the Saudi Cup on dirt but now steps up in trip and goes back on the turf.
“He broke well, and David (Egan) gave him a brilliant ride (in Saudi),” said Gosden.
“Obviously the American horses, including Charlatan, had a lot of early speed so he knew he had to be up there with them and if he got away in the straight, he might be tough to catch. David rode him perfectly, and the horse showed a lot of class.
“He has plenty of size and scope about him as well and he’s really matured well into a four-year-old – he’s definitely gone the right way from three.
“The thought process was that we’ll always be running on turf back in the UK – it’s a mile-and-a-half race, and depending on how he runs that will decide his road map for the rest of the year and which races to target.”
Of Egan, who missed a couple of big-race rides on Mishriff last year through suspension and Covid protocols, Gosden said: “He’s very cool, calm and collected all the time.
“He thinks everything through thoroughly – he’s a brilliant jockey.”
While predicting not much will change at Clarehaven, the 25-year-old does admit to a sense of anticipation.
“Its very exciting,” he said.
“We’re lucky at home – we have a wonderful team there, who work incredibly hard, so hopefully things will go in the right direction, but we’ll find out! Things obviously won’t change very much.”
Chief opponent to Mishriff, according to the betting at least, is Aidan O’Brien’s Mogul, another to have won a big international race – in Hong Kong.
O’Brien has never made any secret of the regard in which he holds Mogul, and this could be the year he really delivers.
“Obviously this will be his first run of the season, but he ran in the middle of December in Hong Kong – he came out of that race very well and he seems to be in good form,” said O’Brien.
“He is a horse that likes nice ground, and a flat track seems to suit him. The ground is always beautiful in Meydan, and it’s a great track.
“We think Mogul is ready to start for the season. He is a very solid horse who has a lot of experience of travelling – and he seems to thrive from that really.
“But we are never under any illusions that it is always very competitive racing out there and there are very highly-rated horses competing in these races.”
Charlie Appleby runs two in Walton Street and Star Safari, and it is the former who carries his main hopes.
Appleby told www.godolphin.com: “Walton Street goes into this on the back of a very good trial in the Dubai City Of Gold, when he repeated his track record time.
“He has to improve again to be competitive at this level, but ticks a lot of boxes in terms of home advantage.”
Saeed bin Suroor runs Dubai Future, the mount of Frankie Dettori – and while he has been consistent this season, he has three lengths to find with Walton Street.
“He’s a tough horse, always tries his best and he’s in good form, always runs well in Dubai,” said Bin Suroor.
“The trip will suit him, Frankie Dettori will ride. It won’t be an easy race, but we’re looking for a good run from him.”
Andrew Balding runs St Leger runner-up Berkshire Rocco, while Oisin Murphy rides the Japanese filly Loves Only You. Arima Kinen winner Chrono Genesis is another leading hope.