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Saudi Cup News

Sir Alex Ferguson Claims Another Trophy With Spirit Dancer

Saturday, 24th February 2024, 9:00pm

Image caption: Spirit Dancer stayed on strongly to land the Howden Neom Turf Cup under Oisin Orr. Credit: Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia / Mathea Kelley

Last year’s Bahrain winner adds more stunning international success

Saturday 24 February 2024 – Legendary former Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson hit the back of the net again when his homebred Spirit Dancer (GB) lifted the US$2m Howden Neom Turf Cup in front of a very appreciative crowd.

British raiders Jack Darcy (IRE) and Luxembourg (IRE) had ensured that there was plenty of pace in this 2100m race, which allowed the Oisin Orr-partnered Spirit Dancer to relax in mid-division.

As soon as they left the final bend, the jockey pulled him out and made his way up the straight.

With 200m to go, Luxembourg had the advantage but the Richard Fahey-trained Spirit Dancer continued to accelerate and won the race comfortably by a length from Japanese raider Killer Ability (JPN). Calif (GER) finished third, followed further back by Luxembourg.

Following a success in the Bahrain International Trophy in November, it took Spirit Dancer only 2:07.10 to bring the triumphant owners Sir Alex Ferguson, Ged Mason and Peter Done into another winner’s enclosure in the Middle East.


Sir Alex Ferguson, breeder and co-owner, Spirit Dancer, 1st: "It’s fantastic, after Bahrain you come here and look at the field, the performance from Oisin and the horse and Richard, it’s unbelievable. Richard made the point he hasn’t had a lot of racing, and I think we see the evidence today. Oisin said this morning the horse is improving all the time. I took a gamble a few years ago with a stud in Hemel Hampstead and the results have been very good.

"That puts his win in Bahrain in perspective. Richard gave us confidence but it is one of these things, you are never too confident."

Ged Mason, co-owner: "It’s like a dream, I have to pinch myself. For Richard to produce him and win as easy as he did, he was like a steam engine. Sir Alex had a dream this morning and dreamt he’d win.

Peter Done, co-owner: "It’s absolutely amazing. Super, super trainer. All credit to him and Oisin with a terrific ride. We bought into him as a 2-year-old. If Sir Alex asks do you want a share, what do you say? We turned down a big offer after Bahrain, we all turned it down and what a great decision."

Richard Fahey, trainer. "We’ll send him back to Dubai. We’ll see how he is in the morning but it’s hard not to go back to Dubai. I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t line up in something on World Cup night.

"Always in my mind I wanted to stretch out to a mile and a half [2400m] but I don’t want to make any decisions tonight. Any horse that goes on the international scene, becomes a people’s horse, and he’s got a huge fan base - the lad that has a share in him has something to do with that!

"As trainers we don’t really understand what it means to people and to see the enjoyment gives me huge pride. He gets his head down and gallops to the line."

Cristian Demuro, Killer Ability, 2nd: He didn’t win but he ran the perfect race. He was on the rail, he quickened, he just found one too good."

Adrie de Vries, Calif, 3rd: "It was good, I had a lovely run round, switched to the outside, didn’t get the gap immediately so had to pull one more wide, but he finished really good and you can’t be happier with him."

Kieran Shoemark, Jack Darcy, 5th: "He ran well. He misbehaved and I had to dismount down the start to try to keep him cool. He ran very well and was relaxed on the front end. He possibly got a bit tired inside the last 200m."

John Velazquez, Grocer Jack, 6th: "Instructions were to settle him behind the lead. We did that. He had his chance but still he did ran well, tried hard."

Luis Morales, Alooqal, 7th: "I waited with him on the inside near the back but he travelled for me. He did his best in the stretch. He wasn’t beaten far in very good race."

Richard Kingscote, Astro King, 8th: "We had a nice position but he struggled a bit up the straight."

William Buick, Studley, 9th: "He ran a good race. I was too far behind. He stayed on."

Joao Moreira, Hearts Concerto, 11th: "He began OK but found himself a bit wide and I had to take him back to get some cover. I started to get going early, it’s only in the last hundred metres that he builds, but not enough to be competitive."

Oisin Murphy, The Foxes, 13th: "I was very happy with his spot, he really got out today and travelled, relaxed when I wanted, but he was empty before we turned into the straight. That’s not him so hopefully we can find the root and get him back on track."