Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham had a front row seat as star man Lionel Messi put on a show in the Major League Soccer curtain raiser against Real Salt Lake.

The Manchester United and England great flew to Florida for the season opener and will have liked what he saw from Tata Martino’s ambitious team in Wednesday’s 2-0 win.

Messi put in a man-of-the-match display, producing some outrageous footwork, seeing a free-kick cleared off the line and hitting the bar directly from a corner before setting up Robert Taylor’s opener.

The 36-year-old received a half-time hug from Will Smith – one of the stars in attendance at upgraded Chase Stadium – and continued to play with an irresistible swagger.

While Miami lost their way as a team after their dominant first half, they dug deep and eventually killed off vastly improved RSL.

Messi showed brilliant strength, speed and close control to drive forward through the middle before playing in Luis Suarez, who set up Diego Gomez to score in the 83rd minute.

That moment gave Miami new life and the former Liverpool striker saw a debut goal brilliantly denied by Zac MacMath, who was guilty of allowing Taylor’s first-half strike to squirm past him.

Salt Lake’s goalkeeper also thwarted Messi at the end of an incredible run down the right as the hosts ended a challenging second half on a high.

In truth, the only person able to keep up with the Argentina skipper on Wednesday was his personal bodyguard, who went up and down the touchline tracking the star throughout the game.

Wicketkeeper/batsman Romaine Morris narrowly missed out on a maiden first-class hundred on day one of the 2024 West Indies Championship third round game between the Jamaica Scorpions and the Barbados Pride at Sabina Park in Kingston.

Batting first after losing the toss, the hosts were able to amass 269 all out from 78.4 overs on Wednesday.

Morris, who got a half century in round one against the Windward Islands Volcanoes, came in with the Jamaicans in a spot of bother at 113-5 in the 40th over and batted beautifully to finish 97* off 126 balls including 10 fours and three sixes.

Earlier, opener Carlos brown continued his good form over the last two matches with 40 off 105 balls including seven fours while Kirk McKenzie got his first significant score of the season, also making 40 with his coming off 79 balls and including five fours.

Jomel Warrican finished with 5-62 off 27.4 overs while Jair McAllister took 3-69 off 15 overs.

At stumps, Barbados were 15-0 off seven overs with Zachary McCaskie on 13 and Kraigg Brathwaite on one.

Full Scores: Jamaica Scorpions 269 all out off 78.4 overs (Romaine Morris 97*, Carlos Brown 40, Kirk McKenzie 40, Jomel Warrican 5-62, Jair McAllister 3-69)

Barbados Pride 15-0 off seven overs.

Other Scores:

At Warner Park in St. Kitts

Trinidad & Tobago Red Force 137 all out off 60.2 overs (Jyd Goolie 30, Collin Archibald 3-28, Jeremiah Louis 3-38, Rakheem Cornwall 2-5, Daniel Doram 2-32)

Leeward Islands Hurricanes 105-1 off 29 overs (Kieran Powell 54*, Mikyle Louis 32)

At Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua

Guyana Harpy Eagles 175 all out off 54.3 overs (Ronaldo Ali Mohamed 30, Matthew Nandu 28, Joshua James 4-43, Johann Layne 2-27, Joshua Bishop 2-31)

West Indies Academy 96-4 off 26 overs (Rashawn Worrell 34, Joshua Bishop 33*, Kevin Sinclair 4-32)

At Chedwin Park in Jamaica

Combined Campuses & Colleges 204 all out off 71.3 overs (Demario Richards 46, Damel Evelyn 43, Darel Cyrus 6-72, Gilon Tyson 3-32)

Windward Islands Volcanoes 0-0 off 0.4 overs

 

Jamaican club Cavalier and Dominican Republic’s Moca FC will be targeting quick starts in their respective 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup Round One campaigns, as they tackle Major League Soccer (MLS) outfits FC Cincinnati and Nashville FC in first leg action on Thursday.

Moca FC hosts Nashville SC at the Estadio Cibao in Santiago de los Caballeros at 7:00pm, while Cavalier will also be at home to FC Cincinnati at the National Stadium at 9:00pm Jamaica time.

Cavalier, who secured their spot in this edition of the Champions Cup by virtue of their runner-up finish in last year’s Concacaf Caribbean Cup, will be hoping to carry their form from the Jamaica Premier League into play and upset the proverbial applecart across the two-leg tie.

The Rudolph Speid-coached side currently head the Jamaica Premier League standings on the back of a 12-match unbeaten run, the last four of which ended in clean sheet victories.

“We have only conceded two goals in 12 (Jamaica Premier League) games, one being an own goal. So, we are on a trajectory and it is something that we plan because we know that we will be up against some good attackers in the Concacaf Champions League, so we try to hone our defence,” Speid said.

While the level of competition on the Champions Cup stage is more formidable that the Jamaica Premier League and the Caribbean Cup, Cavalier have proven that they can compete and, if their rich scoring from the Caribbean Cup, in particular, is anything to go by, then FC Cincinnati will have to put every foot right defensively.

No player had more goals in the Caribbean Cup than Shaniel Thomas, who finished with eight goals, including a pair of hat-tricks. However, Thomas didn’t do it alone as Jalmaro Calvin also scored four goals and was one of the playmakers in attack.

Speid is backing that dynamic duo and others to execute accordingly against an FC Cincinnati team playing its first match of the year.

“We just want to see what we can get from the two games against Cincinnati,” Speid added.

Cincinnati FC also enjoyed a fruitful 2023 season in MLS, where they won the Supporters Shield as the team with the best regular season record.

Like Cavalier, the Ohio-based club will be making their Champions Cup debut as well but boast both quality and experience within the squad. Attacking midfielder and 2023 MLS Most Valuable Player Luciano Acosta, who had 17 goals and 14 assists in 2023, is no stranger to the Champions Cup, as he enjoyed a stint with DC United in 2015-16 season. Now, almost eight years later, Acosta will get another crack at Concacaf glory.

FC Cincinnati also have great strength in defence, especially in central defenders Matt Miazga and Miles Robinson, both of whom have won a Concacaf Gold Cup with the United States Men’s National team.

A pair of seasoned FC Cincinnati defenders going up against Cavalier’s prolific attack should make for an intriguing first leg.

Moca FC vs Nashville SC

These two teams will also be making their Concacaf Champions Cup debuts, as Moca FC progressed by virtue of their third-place finish in the Caribbean Cup, while Nashville SC, due to their runner-up finish in last year’s Leagues Cup.

Moca used a stifling defence and timely goal-scoring to reach the knockout stage of the Caribbean Cup, as they conceded just three goals in their four group stage games.

In attack, Gustavo Ascona was a headache for opponents defence in scoring four goals, while Victor Sanchez was also threat in notching two goals.

But they are up against an MLS team that boast one of the strongest squads in the Eastern Conference, which makes for a daunting assignment.

Leading the way for Nashville is talented midfielder Hany Mukhtar, who pocketed MLS’s Most Valuable Player for the 2022 season, a feat he followed up with 15 goals and 11 assists in 2023. New arrival Tyler Boyd should also help in attack, after scoring seven goals and contributing four assists last season with the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Nashville SC are also quite strong in defence, with United States Internationals Walker Zimmerman and Shaq Moore at the back. 

Reggae Boy Ravel Morrison finds himself at the center of attention as Sheffield Wednesday, Bolton Wanderers, and Peterborough United have expressed interest in securing the services of the 31-year-old midfielder.

A free agent since parting ways with Major League Soccer side DC United at the beginning of this year, Morrison is eager to return to regular football action, sparking the interest of clubs across the English Championship.

Sheffield Wednesday, currently grappling with the challenges of a survival fight in the Championship, sees Morrison as a potential boost to their attacking options. The free agent status of the Jamaican international has also piqued the interest of League One promotion hopefuls Bolton and Peterborough, both aiming to strengthen their squads for the crucial final weeks of the season.

Having made his debut for Jamaica in November 2020, Morrison showcased his prowess by scoring his first international goal in a crucial World Cup qualification match against Honduras in March 2022. However, despite his impressive international outings, the 31-year-old has been sidelined from the Reggae Boyz squad since March 2023 due to a lack of club football activity.

Should Morrison secure a contract with any of the three English Championship clubs currently courting him, it could potentially reignite his chances of returning to the national team. The window of opportunity, however, seems tight, with Jamaica's Reggae Boyz gearing up to face the United States in the CONCACAF Nations Cup semi-finals in late March.

The possibility of a move to Sheffield Wednesday adds an intriguing layer to the narrative, considering Morrison's past stint with their cross-city rivals Sheffield United during the 2019-20 season.

With a football journey that has taken him through clubs in six different countries, Morrison stands at a crossroads, contemplating a return to the league where it all began for the talented midfielder, or the prospect of venturing into League One for the first time in his career.

 

Will Biddick is set to get the leg-up on Kilbeg King at the Cheltenham Festival after Anthony Honeyball stated his intention to go for the National Hunt Chase with his Reynoldstown runner-up.

The National Hunt Chase is a race in which both Honeyball and Biddick have previous, having joined forces with Ms Parfois in 2018, leading inside the final half-furlong only to be pipped close home by Willie Mullins’ Rathvinden.

Although Biddick has a Festival winner to his name as both a trainer and a jockey, Honeyball is still searching for his first strike at the Prestbury Park showpiece and is confident his star novice chaser can play a key part in the marathon event after a fine effort at Ascot when beaten only a head by Ben Pauling’s Henry’s Friend.

“I went to the Reynoldstown with slightly different expectations than I did the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase (when third on Boxing Day) – in my mind and my world he was favourite, so I wasn’t over the moon to finish second at Ascot,” explained Honeyball.

“At the same time, the dream is still alive and he’s run a really good race with reasons to think he could go to the National Hunt Chase and have a really good chance.

“Hand on heart we’re probably not good enough to run in the three-mile novice (Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase) and while we’re not a million miles away, we’re probably right in going for the National Hunt Chase.

“He’s definitely got that bit of class and he would travel through that race, while I think his jumping would be economical and good enough. So I feel he would have a decent chance in that.

“It’s one of those races where he would tick a lot of boxes. He’s a nine-year-old and he’s got that bit of experience. I see no reason why he wouldn’t stay and he’s got what you need really.”

On the booking of Biddick for the nine-year-old, he went on: “I think it’s a race you have to get organised early for and we’ve got Will Biddick provisionally booked to ride him. I think he will be OK (to take the ride) as he often rides for Paul Nicholls in those types of races, but he doesn’t have one in it.”

Not only does Kilbeg King’s Cheltenham Festival bid give both Honeyball and Biddick the chance to correct the record of Ms Parfois’ National Hunt Chase reverse of six years ago, her owner Martyn Chapman is a member of the partnership that co-owns the Grade Two runner-up.

Honeyball continued: “Will was second for us in the race aboard Mrs Parfois when she was beaten by Willie and Patrick Mullins. It was an agonising one as halfway up the run-in she was back in front, but just got nabbed.

“One of the owners of Kilbeg King used to own Ms Parfois so there is a nice bit of symmetry to it as well. We’re looking forward to it and we wouldn’t run him unless we thought we had a decent chance of winning and we think we have.

“We will give it a go and who knows, you need a lot of luck, but we just hope he does everything right and if he does then we should at least be thinking we have a chance turning in, we hope.”

Kilbeg King has built up a wealth of fencing experience in four starts this season and having plied his trade in graded company the last twice, there are plenty of positives for his connections to cling to ahead of his Festival bid.

“His jumping was good in the Kauto Star and his jumping for the most part was good, solid and safe at Ascot,” said Honeyball

“There was just a slight frustration that at both two out and the last he just jumped them OK but landed a bit flat-footed. If he had jumped just one of them OK then that would probably been enough, but it is about jumping and Ascot is a good test.

“It’s good he has come through that and it is good experience under his belt and we’re hoping we can just do a few little things at home now to help him when the pressure is on.

“When he won at Punchestown we thought he fitted the same type of mould as Fountains Windfall and Ms Parfois and we were very much hoping he would end up in races like this.

“He was a good third in the Kauto Star and he’s backed that up with a really good performance in the Reynoldstown.”

Dual Grade One winner Gala Marceau finished a disappointing third as Hispanic Moon claimed top honours in the Bet Victor Quevega Mares Hurdle at Punchestown.

Gala Marceau locked horns with fellow Willie Mullins-trained mare Lossiemouth on several occasions last season, coming out on top at the Dublin Racing Festival before her esteemed stablemate turned the tables in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham and confirmed the form at Punchestown.

Gala Marceau did though round off her campaign with a top-level win in France, and while she was beaten by another Mullins mare in Ashroe Diamond on her return to action at Doncaster late last month, she was widely expected to get back on the winning trail at Grade Three level on home soil.

Ridden by Paul Townend, the 2-7 shot travelled well for much of the of the two-and-a-half-mile contest, but was being ridden along before the home turn and soon emptied in the ultra-testing conditions.

Saylavee, also trained by Mullins, did her best to make a race of it with Henry de Bromhead’s 11-2 chance Hispanic Moon, but the latter kicked eight lengths clear in the hands of Darragh O’Keeffe.

Coral reacted by trimming Hispanic Moon’s odds for the Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival to 16-1 from 50-1, while easing Gala Marceau to 12-1 from 7-1. Lossiemouth is the 1-2 favourite.

Robbie Power, the winning trainer’s race planner, said: “That was great. She was impressive here back in November and I don’t know what went wrong at Christmas, there was no real excuse for her, she just didn’t run her race for some reason.

“That was much more like it today and Darragh knew himself after jumping two hurdles that she was back to herself. She was a different mare, she travelled and jumped really well. She winged the last and went from there to the winning post with her two ears pricked.

“Hopefully there is a bit more in the locker. She’s in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and we’ll see how she comes out of this, we might take a punt.

“You’d have to be tempted after that, she’s beaten Saylavee a lot easier than she did here back in November.”

Of the market leader, Mullins said: “Paul thought she ran a bit keen and she was very disappointing, especially after her promising run in Doncaster.

“I haven’t seen anything wrong with her yet, but she was blowing quite hard when she came in. Unfortunately it’s one of those things.”

Gary Moore is looking to Peking Opera to continue his stable’s fine form with the one-time Irish Derby fourth seeking to book his ticket to the Triumph Hurdle in Kempton’s Coral Adonis Juvenile Hurdle.

Moore, whose son Jamie recently announced his retirement from the saddle, enjoyed a big-race double at Haydock last weekend as Salver confirmed himself as one of the UK’s leading juveniles and Botox Has claimed Grade Two success in the Rendlesham.

Lower Beeding-based Moore is now on the hunt for further graded honours with his former Ballydoyle inmate, who made the perfect start over hurdles at Sandown earlier this month.

He showed there he had plenty of speed to go with his staying power and he has forced a change of thinking from his trainer, with Moore conceding he never had a trip to Kempton in mind for the hot juvenile prospect.

“Going into Sandown, on his Flat form, I thought he would want a stiff two miles,” explained Moore.

“The last place I thought I would run him was Kempton, even though the Adonis was probably the obvious race anyway. But I thought he would want a stiff two rather than an easy two and as it worked out, I thought he travelled well (at Sandown) and if they had gone a better gallop it would have helped him more.

“Hopefully the track will suit him and hopefully he will show enough to be a Triumph Hurdle horse – he will need to because it’s quite a good race.”

Moore’s success with Salver this season has seen him clipped into as short as 10-1 for the Triumph Hurdle next month, while it is Peking Opera’s exploits on the Flat combined with his Sandown hurdles debut that are driving his odds, ranging from 16s to 33-1.

Those prices could plummet with a bold showing from the son of Galileo on Saturday, but Moore says he has collected few clues on the gallops as to who may be better, with both kept separate in their work at home.

“I’ve never galloped them together,” continued Moore.

“One is an out-and-out stayer and the other should be as well, but on his pedigree and what he’s done (on the Flat), he (Peking Opera) should have a bit more class.”

Moore could also be represented on the card by Grade One scorer Le Patron, who could attempt to get back on track in the Coral Pendil Novices’ Chase after seeing his jumping fall apart in the Scilly Isles last time.

The six-year-old finished a long way adrift of Nickle Back on that occasion, with Moore having plenty of respect for that rival who is also entered at the weekend.

“My biggest concern in that race is Nickle Back and I don’t know if he will run or not, but I wouldn’t be in a rush to take him on to be honest,” added Moore.

Stuart Edmunds will saddle his first ever runner in Ireland on Thursday when Marsh Wren bids for Listed honours in the Carey Glass Irish EBF Colreevy Mares Novice Chase at Thurles.

The eight-year-old, who is part-owned by former Cardiff and Coventry City defender Ben Turner, has won two of her three starts over fences to date, with victories at Warwick and Uttoxeter sandwiching a second-placed finish in Listed company behind Nicky Henderson’s Arclight at Wincanton.

Edmunds admits taking on the Irish in their own back yard is a stiff test, but with conditions in Marsh Wren’s favour and Turner and other members of the Far Bihoue Partnership set to make the trip, the trainer is excited by the challenge.

“We thought about going for a previous mares’ race there, but in the end we decided to go for what was not too difficult a race at Uttoxeter,” said Edmunds, who is based near Milton Keynes.

“We just thought she’s already Listed placed, she loves soft ground and the boys are all very excited about going to Ireland, so she’s gone.

“We wouldn’t be going if we thought it was a waste of time, we think she’s gone there in good order and the more rain they get the better, as long as it’s on.

“She loves testing conditions, the trip (two and three-quarter miles) in Ireland is about right and it’s worth a few quid at €30,000, so why not have a go?”

Marsh Wren features in a six-strong field, with Gordon Elliott’s pair of Harmonya Maker and Jumping Jet and Gavin Cromwell’s Law Ella seemingly her biggest threats.

There is also British interest in the BoyleSports Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle, with the Willie Mullins-trained Stoke The Fire carrying the colours of Middleham Park Racing.

An impressive winner on his hurdling debut at Tramore, the five-year-old lines up as one of three runners for the champion trainer in the Grade Three contest alongside Largy Hill and What Path.

Middleham Park’s National Hunt racing manager, Tom Palin, said: “He’s the first horse we’ve had with Willie, but we’ve obviously been huge admirers of his for a long time. We like to have our horses with trainers who provide you with the best chance of having good runners on the best days, and there’s probably no finer man than Willie for that.

“We actually bought this horse as a possible Irish Cesarewitch contender, that’s more of a longer-term plan, but he might give us a little bit of fun over hurdles in the interim.

“He certainly gave us a bit more than a little bit of fun on New Year’s Day with a fairly bloodless victory at Tramore, when he seemed to cope with the testing conditions well and we were very taken by how he jumped on debut.

“This feels like the right sort of race to pitch him in and I’m sure whatever happens, he’ll still be a nice horse capable of taking us to Festivals both on the Flat and over hurdles, whether that’s Fairyhouse or Punchestown in graded company or in handicaps, we’ll have to wait and see.”

The likely favourite for the race is Elliott’s Staffordshire Knot, who will carry the colours of Gigginstown House Stud for the first time after being bought to stay in the yard for €510,000 at Andy and Gemma Brown’s dispersal earlier this month.

Jamaica College have sought the intervention of Sports Minister Olivia Grange to resolve an impasse it has with the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) over the eligibility of two international student athletes to represent the school at the 2024 Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championships.

According to a letter to Grange signed by Chairman of the Jamaica College Board of Management, Lance Hylton, ISSA has reportedly refused to permit the two athletes - Evans Tetteh and Dominic Amponsah, who are both from Ghana -because of what it says is an “influx” of foreign athletes into Jamaican high schools.

“We believe that the action taken by ISSA is unfair and inconsistent with ISSA’s own rules and could have negative repercussions on Jamaican athletes seeking similar scholarships to overseas schools,” Hylton's letter stated.

“We are kindly seeking your intervention and mediation into this matter. We look forward to your positive response," he added.

Jamaica College, who have won the boys’ title 22 times, placed second at last year’s Championships, behind Kingston College, the winningest school with 34 titles.

After another fairly consistent season, Gary Subratie’s classy mare Atomica secured a second-consecutive Horse of the Year, after she was again named the country’s best performer for the 2023 season.

The Don Wehby-owned charged registered a number of outstanding performances for the season, as her five wins from seven starts included the prestigious Jamaica Cup, which all but etched her name in the minds of the 15 individuals –journalists and members of the promoting company –who cast their ballots.

Atomica, a five-year-old chestnut mare, registered her five victories in Grade 1 trophy races last year, namely the Labour Day Trophy, the Clovis Metcalfe Trophy, the Legal Light Trophy, the Menudo, and the Jamaica Cup. Those pushed her earnings to $6.3 million, some ways off the $14 million she earned won the award for the 2022 season, as her connections did highlight a few issues earlier in the season.

As such, Subratie was delighted at her achievement which he labelled as extremely special.

“I’m elated and it’s good to know that you have a horse that repeated horse of the year, only an elite group of horses has ever done that. I’m proud of her and I think we did a lot of work. Last year we went through some tough times with her, but we got through with everything. She’s proven herself last year and she’s going to show herself even stronger this year,” he said shortly after the announcement at Caymanas Park, on Tuesday.

Wehby, owner of Oakridge Farms, shared similar sentiments about the filly, who is said was the pride of his late father, Donald Wehby Sr.

“I’m extremely proud of my horse and extremely happy. She’s a very, very special filly,” said Wehby.

“She’s a very special horse to me and my family. My dad, who was the founder of Oakridge Farms, passed away on August 2, 2022, and she won the derby the week after and she has brought so much happiness to my family that I’m almost speechless,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mouttet Mile winner Rough Entry and Jamaica Derby winner Ability, were the runners-up to the Horse of the Year. Rough Entry was also named champion middle-distance performer, as well as champion foreign-bred runner.

Hughie Morrison reports Not So Sleepy to be firmly on course for next month’s Unibet Champion Hurdle after going up the Lambourn gallops “like a rocket” on Wednesday morning.

The mud-loving veteran has won 11 times over jumps and on the Flat combined, most recently proving the fire still burns bright despite his advancing years when claiming Grade One honours in a rescheduled Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Sandown in December.

Morrison has since given his 12-year-old a winter break and is now beginning to turn the screw ahead of what will be his fifth tilt at Champion Hurdle glory in just under three weeks’ time.

“I went away last week and I came back and thought he was looking rather fat, which is a good sign because you want them to be doing well,” said the trainer.

“Over the last year or 18 months we’ve taken him to Lambourn the odd time, because we’ve been snowed in or something like that, and he actually had a nice gallop in Lambourn this morning.

“Thanks to the people in Lambourn who accommodated us, he had a spin up The Long gallop and he went up there like a rocket.”

Not So Sleepy was pulled up in his first Champion Hurdle four years ago and has finished fifth in the last three renewals, twice behind Honeysuckle and once behind Constitution Hill.

With Constitution Hill and last year’s runner-up State Man again set to be in opposition, Morrison is under no illusions about the task facing his charge on March 12, but he is happy to roll the dice and will be praying for testing conditions on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.

“I’m sure they will start quivering in their boots when they hear Sleepy is running,” he joked.

“We’d like a day like today on Tuesday March 12! Hopefully we get wet ground to make it hard work so the speed horses can’t quicken away from him. We also need Constitution Hill and State Man probably to have a day off.

“We are realistic, but at this moment in time I’m very happy with him.”

He added: “He’s lucky he’s not in a Willie Mullins or Gordon Elliott yard as he probably wouldn’t be running, would he? He’d be running in a County Hurdle or being saved for an egg and spoon race the week before or something.

“I know that sounds cynical, but I think the interest in Cheltenham is waning a bit because of the monopolisation. When you watch the Grand National weights yesterday, I found that deeply depressing.”

Eydon will bid to honour his sire Olden Times when he makes his eagerly-awaited return from 665 days off the track in the BetUK Winter Derby at Southwell.

An impressive winner of the Feilden Stakes when trained by Roger Varian in 2022, he was last seen finishing fourth to Coroebus in that year’s 2000 Guineas, with an injury sustained in the build-up to the 2022 Derby the start of a plethora of issues that have kept him sidelined for almost two years.

Now in training with Andrew Balding, he sat out the whole of the 2023 season, but is reported to be in rude health following a recent racecourse gallop at Kempton and will be partnered for the first time by Kevin Stott when lining up in the Group Three event, which for the first time will be run over 11 furlongs.

“He went for a racecourse gallop the other day with Andrew and it seemed to go satisfactory,” said Ted Voute, racing adviser to Eydon’s owner Prince Faisal.

“His last run was in the Guineas when he was fourth. It will be some training feat to get him back and to the level of fitness required to run creditably after such a length of time off. But, touch wood, Andrew is pleased with him and thinks he will run a nice race.

“It’s a pretty even field and they are all rated around the same figures apart from Lord North and we will see.”

Connections will not only be hoping Eydon’s Rolleston appearance can book a trip to the Middle East for Dubai World Cup night next month, but also that the five-year-old can pay an on-course tribute to his sire, who died earlier this month at the age of 25.

“He has an entry in Dubai (in the Sheema Classic), but that is rather far-fetched at the moment. He would have to beat Lord North or run very respectably against him, but we will see how we get on,” said Voute.

“We keep our fingers crossed and his owner has had incredible faith in him and patience which in this day and age is quite unusual.

“He loves the sire line and sadly Eydon’s father Olden Times passed away two weekends ago from old age. It would lovely if he could replace him somehow, but he’s got a lot to do before he does that.”

Daniel and Claire Kubler’s Astro King will fly the flag for his upwardly-mobile stable in the Neom Turf Cup at Riyadh on Saturday.

The gelding had a successful campaign last season, winning two good handicap pots in both the Sky Bet Finale at York and the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket.

There was also a near-miss as the horse was narrowly outdone in the John Smith’s Cup on the Knavesmire in July, and at the end of the season he headed out to the Middle East to contest the Group Two Bahrain International Trophy.

The seven-year-old had a luckless passage through the race when trapped on the inside rail, but he still ran with credit in sixth and set a precedent for further travel after taking the journey in his stride.

With that in mind, his first start this year will be in the Neom Turf Cup at the Saudi Cup meeting, a race upgraded from Group Three to Group Two status and run for an exceptional prize fund of $2million.

Daniel Kubler reports the bay to have landed in the desert in good form and though his draw in stall 11 is less than ideal, he is still hopeful the horse will do the yard proud at the meeting.

“He travelled over to Saudi last Saturday and he seems to have travelled very well,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to it, I understand he’s been drawn in stall 11 and we would have preferred a bit lower but there’s not much we can do about it.

“We haven’t overly pushed him but we’re happy with how he’s trained going into it, his preparation has been pretty similar to when he went to Bahrain and we were pretty happy with how he ran there.

“He was a little bit unlucky with how the race panned out but hopefully he’ll have a bit more luck in running this time and he can come home with some prize-money – the money out there is pretty ridiculous!”

Clive Cox has the Qipco 2000 Guineas in mind as an early goal for his exciting unbeaten colt Ghostwriter.

The three-year-old is by Invincible Spirit and runs in the familiar purple and blue silks of Jeff Smith, whose most recent top-class performer was the multiple Group One winner Alcohol Free.

Ghostwriter made his debut at Newmarket in a July course maiden last August, prevailing by three and a half lengths over seven furlongs.

He then headed to Ascot for a novice event over the same trip, again winning comfortably when making the running and coming home a length and a quarter ahead of the runner-up.

His third and final outing of the season was on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket, where he stepped up in grade to contest the Group Two Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes.

There he encountered some promising rivals, including the Ballydoyle contender Capulet – a Group Two runner-up ahead of the race having finished only half a length behind stablemate Diego Velazquez in the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes.

Cox’s runner was well able to step up to the mark, however, succeeding by a length and a quarter in a taking run under Richard Kingscote.

Naturally that performance has brought the Classics into focus for connections, particularly now the bay is proven over the Rowley Mile – home of the 2000 Guineas in May.

“He’s done really well, he had a super break and he’s been back cantering for three or four weeks,” Cox said.

“We’re thrilled with the way he’s developed over the winter, he’s looking even stronger.

“We were delighted with the campaign we enjoyed with him last year and we’re all looking forward to this season.

“I’m very much hoping to go to the Guineas, the first week in May is uppermost in our minds.

“Especially with him winning on the track at Newmarket, on the July course, of course, but crucially the Rowley Mile.

“We would be very excited about him with those Classic races in mind.”

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