Dubai: French trainer Nicholas Bachalard is hoping to win Saudi Arabia their first Dubai World Cup with Ron The Greek at Meydan this Saturday.
Owner King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia has had two runners-up at the event with Dynever in 2005 and Premium Tap in 2007 and now, Bachalard is tasked with making it third-time lucky.
“The opportunity to be in the race is big enough but to win would be a dream come true not just for me but for the country,” said Bachalard. “The horse is probably running for the country too, so there’s great excitement. To them, racing is starting to improve internationally and this would be a big step up for them.”
The American-bred seven-year-old, who runs under the name Wattani in Saudi Arabia, comes off the back of two wins on dirt in the Jockey Gold Cup at Belmont Park and a conditions race in Riyadh. “On his day, he is as good as any horse. He has proven quality and class and is well travelled over different surfaces. There are no standouts, so everybody has a chance.
“Everything will depend on the start. Sometimes, he puts himself in the race and sometimes he drops himself out. The horse will dictate but hopefully we’re sitting mid-back from the draw and from the four-hundred mark may the best horse win.”
Despite Saudi Arabia’s bid to end their World Cup wait, Bachalard said he wasn’t under pressure. “Saudi have always purchased with the World Cup in mind,” he added. “Dynever missed out to Rose of May and Premium Tap to Invasor, who were both decent horses. That was on turf at Nad Al Sheba and they’ve not had similar opportunities since. The goal now is to win or at least be competitive.
“Racing in Saudi Arabia is racing as a purist, there is no gambling, so they race just to race. For them, it’s about pride and there’s a great rivalry and they are working on having better horses to get there. Slowly and surely, we are stepping up and going in the right direction. There is always pressure but it’s good pressure. I think a win would put them on the map, they want to be recognised.”