Appleby plotting Dubai raid with Annaf

By Sports Desk February 28, 2024

Annaf could be in line for more Middle Eastern riches after his lucrative success in the Saudi National Bank 1351 Turf Sprint.

The five-year-old had a busy and profitable season last year, consistently turning up in top sprints and holding his own when often starting at outsider’s odds.

He was fourth when beaten two and three-quarter lengths at 50-1 in the Duke of York Stakes, after which he was defeated by the same margin at the same price when third in the Group One King’s Stand at Royal Ascot.

Even when taking up the lower places in the Hackwood, the Hopeful Stakes and the Sprint Cup, he was never beaten more than three and a half lengths when stepping up to six furlongs.

At Doncaster, he moved back half a furlong in the Portland and under top weight he claimed his first win of the turf season, a success he then followed up when landing the Group Three Bengough Stakes at Ascot in October.

He made his seasonal debut at Lingfield at the start of February, placing second in the Listed Kachy Stakes behind Clive Cox’s Diligent Harry – who subsequently landed the Hever Sprint Stakes at Southwell on Saturday afternoon.

The Saudi Turf Sprint was Annaf’s next destination, edging up to just shy of seven furlongs in a deep race that included the reigning champion Bathrat Leon from Japan, Kieran Cotter’s speedy filly Matilda Picotte and Tim Easterby’s British Champions Sprint Stakes winner Art Power.

Under a canny ride from Rossa Ryan having started in stall 12, they found space on the inside rail and were gaining ground constantly.

As others faded Annaf began to advance and ultimately crossed the line three-quarters of a length ahead of Japan’s La La Christine to take home nearly £1million in prize-money.

Appleby said: “He’s all good, he’s come out of the race fine.

“He did it really well, we were quite surprised at the price of him to be honest.

“He ran really well in the Kachy Stakes, we gave him a prep run in that and he went very well.

“The winner of that (Diligent Harry) came out and won the Listed race at Southwell, so the form has really stacked up.

“He’s always run well in good quality races and he’s always been thereabouts.”

A visit to Japan was mentioned in the immediate aftermath of the Saudi success, but connections have decided that the meeting comes too soon and he will instead return to the Middle East for the Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night.

“He’ll more than likely go out to Dubai on World Cup night, he was invited to Japan, but we’ve decided not to go there as the race might come too soon for him and there’s a lot of travelling as well,” Appleby said.

“He’ll come home and then probably about a week before the race, he’ll fly out to Dubai.

“Then I imagine then it’ll be Royal Ascot, Glorious Goodwood, all the big meetings.”

Appleby’s other sprint star is the rapid Big Evs, winner of the Windsor Castle, Molecomb, Flying Childers and then the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint last year.

The colt has returned to training after his winter break and is progressing well as connections ponder where to begin his three-year-old campaign.

“He’s good, he’s wintered really well and he’s in training,” Appleby said.

“We’ve not really made our plans yet with him, but he’s on the go so he’ll run early season, we just don’t know where yet.”

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