Jamie Osborne is eyeing a tilt at the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot with his exciting stayer Mekong.
Bought for 425,000 guineas out of Sir Michael Stoute’s yard last October, the Frankel gelding made an encouraging start for his new connections when fourth in a Listed event at Meydan in January.
Having since filled the runner-up spot in a valuable contest on the undercard of the inaugural Saudi Cup in Riyadh, the five-year-old was all set to line up for the Dubai Gold Cup before World Cup night was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While that was a disappointing blow for Osborne, the Lambourn-based trainer believes there is still plenty to look forward to with Mekong, who has already returned to Britain.
Osborne said: “Thankfully the people in Dubai were extremely efficient about getting the horses home once the meeting had been cancelled. He was on a plane almost immediately and was back home on Tuesday.
“He’s obviously going to have a bit of a quiet period now. He was all geared up and ready to roll in the Dubai Gold Cup, but we’ll give him a bit of downtime now and see how things pan out.
“I have a fairly strong belief that if we can get him to relax he will get the Ascot Gold Cup trip and in normal circumstances that’s where we’d be aiming, but who knows what will happen over the next few weeks?
“If the programme was as it usually is, I’d be quite happy to go straight to Royal Ascot with him.”
Longer term, Mekong is likely to be packed up on his travels again.
“Obviously a big part of this horse’s career will be about going back to the Middle East. His owner, Khalid Bin Mishref, would like to go back for the race in Saudi again next year and, hopefully, he’ll get his chance in the Dubai Gold Cup in 12 months’ time,” Osborne added.
“With that in mind we probably won’t over-race him this year. He’s an interesting character, but I think we’re getting there with him.”