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“The great horses like him are what you wake up for every morning,” said Eclipse Award trainer Brad H Cox of Knicks Go who is $3 with Sportsbet for the $20m Saudi Cup on 20 February.

“He’s a fantastic horse and hopefully an international horse by Saturday, with everything going in the right direction. He’s carrying his weight well and I’m happy with the way he’s moving.”

In coming off wins the Pegasus World Cup and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, winning jockey Joel Rosario will be eyeing the Bob Baffert trained Charlatan who is $2.50 favourite for jockey Mike Smith.

Charlatan missed the Pegasus World Cup in readiness for the Saudi Cup, having not raced since winning at Santa Anita in March, and earlier a disqualified winner of the Arkansas Derby.

“Going into the Pegasus he gave us a lot of confidence with the way he was training,” continued Brad Cox. “We had the confidence he would perform well and he did – we were proud!”

“We’re looking forward to the challenge. In the Pegasus he got 1800m at Grade 1 level against some very, very good horses so now we have to transfer that to a one-turn 1800m in the Saudi.”

“Knicks Go weapon is his speed but you’d have to think he’ll be in a very forward position in the race. The 2½ length defeat of Jesus’ Team in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile was not unexpected.”

Owned by the Korea Racing Authority, and a $87,000 Book 4 buy at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, he’s the first-crop of Grade 1 winner Paynter, from stakes winning Kosmo’s Buddy.

Identified by the KRA ‘Nicks K’ generic programme as a future Grade 1 performing stallion to stand in Korea, but there is now talk that Knicks Go may stand in Kentucky.

Developed by Dr Jin Woo Lee of the Korea Racing Authority, KRA officials collect hair samples of selected yearlings prior to Yearling Sales, and ship them to Korea for genetic analysis.

In taking three weeks to analyse the entire genome, compared to those analysed overnight, the ‘Nicks K’ has already resulted with the Gr1 placed three-times winner Mr Crow standing in Korea.

In the Saudi Cup now attracting American top-liners with disrupted 3yo classic seasons, Knicks Go was a non-winning 3yo of all eight stares having run second in the Ellis Park Derby.

Originally trained by the KRA-aligned Ben Colebrook, Knicks Go was a 70/1 maiden winner of the Breeders Futurity, going onto be second to Game Winner in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Placed with Brad Cox as a 4yo, and handled by his Oaklawn ‘horseman’ Jorgito Abrego, Knicks Go won a 1700m Allowance at Oaklawn Park, before by a lengthy lay-off due to knee bone chips.

A second 1700m Allowance victory at Keeneland followed, before Knicks Go stamped himself an exponent of front running two-turn US dirt racing with victory the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

In 15 individual Group 1 winners vying for $30.5m at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse on Friday 19 and Saturday 20 February, the International Jockeys’ Challenge will highlight the Friday.

A total of 77 overseas contenders from 13 different nations are to appear across the two days, with the $20m Saudi Cup set to be a highlight between the top-guns Knicks Go and Charlatan.

John Gosden’s French Derby winner Mishriff is to be ridden by David Egan and is at $7, having been second in last year’s Saudi Derby, with $15 for Japan’s Dirt Horse of The Year Chuwa Wizard.

Leading US-based jockey John Velazquez of Puerto Rico makes up the 14 international jockeys for the International Jockeys Challenge on the Friday before partnering Tacitus in the $20m Saudi Cup.

With the Jockeys Challenge being seven international women, two local men and five international men there is a $100,000 prize for each four Challenge races, plus $30,000 to the winner.

With last year first female winning jockey Lisa Allpress of New Zealand not returning, this Challenge comprises Sibylle Vogt aged 25 of Switzerland, Jorge Ricardo 59 of Brazil, Nanako Fujita 23 of Japan and both Jessica Marcialis 30 and Cristian Demuro 28 from Italy.

In addition, there’s Maria Lujan Asconiga 27 of Argentina, Nieves Garcia 43 of Spain, Malin Holmberg 30 of Sweden, Shane Foley 32 of Ireland with Holly Doyle 24 and William Buick 32 representing the United Kingdom, plus two local Saudi jockeys.

 
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