Bethell identifies Al Quoz Sprint as big target for Regional
Ed Bethell is planning to give his Sprint Cup hero Regional a well-earned break before targeting further big-race honours on Dubai World Cup night in March.
The five-year-old provided his young trainer with a first taste of Group One success at Haydock on Saturday, his third win from as many visits to the Merseyside venue.
Connections have the option of supplementing for next month’s Qipco British Champions Sprint at Ascot, while he also has foreign options at the Breeders’ Cup and in Hong Kong.
Bethell, though, is unsure about the suitability of any of those three races and would prefer to keep his powder dry for the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan in the new year.
Reflecting on Haydock, he said: “Things like that don’t happen very often and I probably was in a bit of shock. We celebrated on Saturday night, but I think I was so shattered from the whole occasion I went to bed quite early.
“The horse is absolutely fine – he came out of the race sounder than he went into it.
“I would imagine he’s probably going to go on holiday now. I don’t think the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita would really suit him. He got rushed off his feet in the Nunthorpe at York last month and I think if he went there the same would apply.
“We’re not entered for the Champions Sprint at Ascot, so we’d have to supplement, but for however many years it’s been run it’s been run on soft ground and he doesn’t like soft ground, so we don’t run him on it.
“After that there’s only really Hong Kong left and again, I’m not sure Sha Tin would be his bag, whizzing round that bend. I have nominated him, but I would rather end the year on a high.”
Although not ruling out the possibility of a prep run, the Middleham Moor handler is currently in favour of heading straight to the Al Quoz before bringing Regional back to Europe.
He added: “I’ve said to the lads that own him I’d quite like to train him for the Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai on World Cup night. Of all these international tracks I think Meydan would be the place for him as it’s very similar to Haydock and York – a big, flat, open, galloping track, which is what he likes.
“I’ll see how he is. You’ve got that Super Saturday meeting you might fly out for. He’s travelled before, having been to Qatar and finished second for us out there, so we know he’s good off an aeroplane.
“He’ll be targeted at all the top sprints next year, starting off with the Duke of York maybe if he comes back from Dubai all right.
“He’ll get an entry in both sprints at Royal Ascot (King’s Stand and Jubilee) I would think and then hopefully all roads lead back to trying to defend his crown at Haydock.”