Saddler's Rock (near): will be partnered by Declan McDonogh on SaturdayPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Rock and Royal clash
in Nad Al Sheba Trophy
Preview: UAE, Saturday 4pm GMT
Meydan: Nad Al Sheba Trophy (Group 3) 1m6f, turf
A GOODWOOD Cup victor versus an Irish St Leger winner is the big draw at Meydan on Saturday, where Saddler's Rock and Royal Diamond meet in the first notable staying test of 2013.
The Andrew Tinkler-owned Royal Diamond seeks to follow up his Curragh Classic triumph under Johnny Murtagh, who had been in the plate when Saddler's Rock added to his Ascot Gold Cup third with a gritty victory in the Goodwood equivalent.
Murtagh, no longer first-choice rider for Saddler's Rock's trainer John Oxx having lost his Irish retainer with the Aga Khan, is very much in the Royal Diamond camp as trainer Tommy Carmody's first ever Dubai runner tackles the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy, four of whose 11 intended starters represent Ireland.
Declan McDonogh, the Aga's new Irish jockey, gets an early and extra call-up from Oxx to take the reins on Saddler's Rock.
Murtagh, whose mount must concede weight all round, said: "We are very happy with him but the Group 1 penalty could be a bit of a burden."
Johnny Murtagh: rides at MeydanPICTURE: Edward Whitaker
Murtagh will be absent from Meydan's most valuable Saturday prize, the Group 2 Zabeel Mile, in which David Simcock raises Trade Storm in class following his striking handicap success at the track 16 days ago.
Simcock said: "Obviously we were absolutely delighted with that effort. He probably surprised us a bit but he has thrived in Dubai. This is a big step up in class but the horse he beat, Anaerobio, won on Thursday, which has to be a positive.
"He deserves a crack at this and we will find out just how much he has progressed."
Fulbright won the Group 2 Challenge Stakes in October when based with Mark Johnston and, penalised for that win, makes his third start for Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni who said: "He has run two good races when things have perhaps not really fallen into place for him. He has always worked well and continues to do so. He should run a big race."
Mike de Kock seeks a fourth win in the race with Musir and Royal Ridge.