Saudi Cup: Frankie Dettori feels he has a 'solid' chance on Country Grammer

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The pair combined to land the Dubai World Cup last year, when Dettori replaced Flavien Prat who had steered Country Grammer to second behind shock winner Emblem Road in Riyadh. Of course this will be Dettori's last ride in the race, the fourth renewal, as he brings the curtain down on his storied career. Yet despite all the greats he has ridden in almost 40 years in the saddle, Country Grammer will have earned him more prize-money than any other should he win the first prize of over £8million. "He is very solid. He never runs a bad race, and touch wood he doesn't start now. He was second last year, he is tough," said Dettori. "He has travelled before, so that's a plus. He is solid and I'd be foolish to say I'd be confident, but I am very pleased to ride him and you know he will give his best. "He gave me the same feel (in the mornings) as he did (on Boxing Day at Santa Anita). Bob Baffert and Amr Zedan (owner) skipped the Breeders' Cup Classic as it would have been a tough task to beat the good horse (Flightline), so he has been basically aimed for these two races, this one and Dubai, so this was always the plan." Dettori's biggest threat arguably comes from within, as Baffert and Zedan also run Taiba, a multiple Grade One winner in the States and the mount of Mike Smith. "Taiba is also very solid, he has little mileage on the clock. He is a horse I feel is still improving," said Dettori. Baffert said of the year younger Taiba: "He just has so much quality. He will do what you want - he can go forward or come from off the pace - I don't worry about him. "He'll fool you, because he's such a lazy work horse in the mornings and is so laid-back, but when he gets in that gate and the lights turn on - that's when his light turns on. "Charlatan (second to Mishriff two years ago) was a brilliant horse with just brilliant speed, but he got into a speed duel with Knicks Go, which cost him the race, but this horse has speed and stamina. "He is tough to ride and that's why Mike Smith had to really get him out and get him going last time in the Malibu. Once you put him into the race, he has the stamina, and that's why, when he missed the break (when third) in the Breeders' Cup (Classic), it hurt him. He wasn't going to beat Flightline, but it cost him second." He went on: "I think both horses are doing really well. Country Grammer is a horse who always runs his race. Frankie knows him really well and if the horse shows up, he'll get the job done if Taiba doesn't. This horse has never been better - he's a better horse this year, I think - and he likes this track, which is really key." One striking thing to have emerged in the short history of the Saudi Cup meeting is the success of the Japanese-trained runners and they are back in force once more. Six-year-old Cafe Pharoah will be ridden by Brazilian ace Joao Moreira, and his trainer Noriyuki Hori said: "Being realistic, this is probably one of the strongest races on dirt in the world. "When you offer very high prize-money, it attracts the best horses. However, this horse has impressed me in his track work. "I know we are challenging good horses, but I have faith in regards to how the horse has run. He is there for me." Yoshito Yahagi took Panthalassa to Dubai last year and he dead-heated with Lord North in the Dubai Turf, now he is on dirt. "The tactics are just one thing - that's go to the front. Number one gate dictates this," said Yahagi. "The track is deep, like a Japanese track. It is deeper than last year. It is not good for Panthalassa." Jun Light Bolt may be the best of the Japanese and he will be ridden by Ryan Moore, who teamed up with him for the first time on Friday morning. "He concentrated on cantering and seems to be in his best condition. He also handled the surface well. I am delighted that connections offered me a ride on a horse with serious chance. I'm looking forward to a big run with him," said Moore.

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