Christophe Lemaire believes Songline can triumph again in Turf Sprint at Saudi Cup
Trained by Toru Hayashi, she won the Group Three seven-furlong contest last year, part of a fantastic four-timer for the French-born rider, who is a multiple champion in Japan. Songline will take on 10 rivals on Saturday, including the Richard Hannon-trained Happy Romance and the Charlie Hills pair of Pogo and Garrus. Yet after partnering the five-year-old in morning work at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse on Wednesday morning, Lemaire says it will take a good one to beat her. "I rode her this morning and she looks in great condition, " he said. "I am very happy with her and so is her trainer. She will be the one to beat again this year, I think." The daughter of Kizuna went on to win the Grade One Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo in June, but has not run since disappointing in a Grade Two in September. Lemaire thinks she can return to her true form and added: "Songline has shown some good form and some bad since winning here last year. "Coming back from Saudi, she produced some very good results. In the autumn she had an issue and could not perform well. It looks like she is all fine from what I have seen and I hope she will race as well as last year." Though a four-time winner at last year's meeting, Lemaire has just two booked rides this time, with Geoglyph his big-race mount in the $20 million Saudi Cup. Trained by Tetsuya Kimura, Geoglyph took the scalp of stablemate and subsequent dual Grade One winner Equinox at Nakayama last April and while he takes on the might of Country Grammer and Emblem Road in the feature, Lemaire feels he will hold a major chance if he takes to a dirt surface, which he faces for the first time. "He has a lot of potential. It is hard to predict how he will react on this new surface, but in terms of quality, he has a good chance," said the rider. "I have not ridden him on dirt yet and will not until Saturday. I give all my trust to the trainer and the staff. "He is by Drefong, an American horse, so we expect him to run good and to adapt to the surface. "It is always a big change for the horses. He is a Grade One winner in Japan and he beat Equinox, which is the new superstar in Japan, so it shows how good Geoglyph is and if he likes the ground, the surface, I think he will cause a big surprise." Sixth in the Hong Kong Cup on his last start in December, Geoglyph did not get a clear run under William Buick, yet Lemaire feels the experience of travelling will stand him in good stead. He added: "He travelled to Hong Kong, so it is always a good experience for horses to travel. It will be his second travel in a couple of months, but he is an easy horse and can adapt. "In Hong Kong he was a bit unlucky in the race and he did not show his best, but hopefully on Saturday he will show people what he is able to do." Lemaire feels there will be no excuses for either the American or Japanese horses in the big race, despite modifications to the dirt track. "I agree that this is the best dirt track in the world," added Lemaire. "There was a little change between the first edition of the Saudi Cup three years ago. "It looks like the ground is now a little bit deeper than it was before, but the quality of the sand is still good. It is a little bit different. "It looks a little bit tougher for the horses to finish quick. The Saudi Cup winner came from behind last year. I think it looks like more of a front-runners' track now. "It is a little between the very quick American dirt and the deeper dirt track in Japan for example. We are somewhere in the middle. Both American horses and Japanese horses can adapt to this track."
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