Author: Duane Fonseca

DAVID EGAN has spent the past year being known as the jockey who won the 2021 running of the Saudi Cup. And he could end up spending the rest of his life for his association with the highest earning racehorse of all time if Mishriff can successfully defend his title on 26 February.

That is, of course, subject to another horse coming along and outearning the now 5yo Make Believe colt, who picked up a humongous $10million cheque for his efforts at Riyadh’s King Abdulaziz Racetrack and is widely tipped as favourite to retain the trophy. And if that happens, money aside, there is little doubt about how much Egan’s stock will rise among the upper crust of his kind.

Trained by John and Thady Gosden, Mishriff won the race as an outsider and went on to cement his position among the top earners in the sport as he added the Group 1 Sheema Classic and the Juddmonte International to his repertoire subsequently in 2021. And if he did that as an outsider in the hands of a 21yo relative newcomer like Egan, how much more potent will he be in two days’ time, with the same rider declaring him to have ‘perfected’ his craft with age.

Just like Egan would have in the time gone by. “He’s a lot more professional in his races now,” said Egan, perhaps mirroring thoughts of himself after adding the aforementioned Dubai Sheema Classic and Juddmonte International to his resume as his only top tier successes.

“As a 3yo he would jump slowly and took an age to get going. He was just immature, but racing and developing with age has helped turn him into the perfect racehorse.” Speaking earlier this month, Mishriff’s co-trainer Thady Gosden had declared him fitter and stronger than the year before. Egan seconded the notion.

“The horse is in good shape again, he’s fit and healthy and has all guns blazing, I suppose,” said Egan. “He’s a credit to Team Gosden and everyone at Clarehaven. Mentally he must be so strong. He’s a credit to himself as well; to do it on any surface and any trip is quite astonishing really.

“It was a feather in his cap having run well in the Saudi Derby the year before (2020) and now he’s run well here twice, whereas some will be coming out here for the first time and running on this sort of surface for the first time. “He’s had a similar prep in the UK, he travels well and takes it all in his stride so I hope things go nice and smoothly into the race.”

Egan believes Mishriff is conditioned according to the schedule laid out for him “He won’t feel the pressure, this is his usual trip in February and he’s getting used to it now. My form study will start when the draw happens,” the rider said. “Last year, everyone had their eyes on Knicks Go and Charlatan, it’s more of an open race this year: there’s half a dozen who could win. “Mishriff has proved he’s the horse to beat with track experience and leads the way, I suppose.”