Fly Down: a Grade 2 winner in the States for Nick Zito
Reigning Fly Down the one to beat in King's Cup
Preview: Saudi Arabia, Friday (4pm GMT)
Janadriyah (Riyadh): Group 1 Custodian Of The Two Holy Mosques Cup (King's Cup) 1m4f, dirt
OFTEN used as a final test for potential Dubai World Cup contenders, including Premium Tap who won this race in 2007 before chasing home Invasor in the world's richest race at Nad Al Sheba, a maximum field of 17 looks certain to face the starter in Saudi Arabia's biggest race on Friday, the King's Cup.
There was a shock in the race last year when Fly Down was beaten by stable companion Kreem before heading to Meydan when far from disgraced in sixth behind subsequent Dubai World Cup runner-up Capponi in the concluding round of the Maktoum Challenge.
He beat only one home in the 2011 Dubai World Cup when trained in America by Nick Zito, for whom he was second in both the Belmont and Travers Stakes and the now six-year-old is again in the line-up and should be the one his 16 rivals have to beat.
Now trained by Baden Al Subaie, he has won three of his five local starts and regular pilot Camilo Ospina is in the saddle, having been displaced by Johnny Murtagh when the horse was beaten in this race last year.
He is owned by King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz & Sons, as are three other runners of which E H Indy won at Belmont Park in October for previous handler Angel Penna. He is two from three in Saudi Arabia, with his defeat coming at the hands of Fly Down in the Group 2 Crown Prince Cup, the recognised prep for Friday's race.
He is trained by B Rizaig, as is Mohawk Chant, previously a useful performer in France for Andre Fabre and twice a winner since switching to the Middle East.
There are plenty of familiar names among the 17 jockeys with Royston Ffrench, Mickael Barzalona, Olivier Peslier, Kieren Fallon, Silvestre de Sousa and Christophe Soumillon all booked to ride.
Peslier is set to partner Athens, formerly trained by Aidan O'Brien for whom he was runner-up in the Queen's Vase on his final start last June. He has one local win to his name but was well beaten in the Crown Prince Cup, in which De Sousa's mount Bow Beaver was fourth.