Tip Two Win, runner-up to Saxon Warrior in the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket last May, will be the star attraction at the two-day Qatar International Derby Festival at Al Rayyan Racecourse in Doha at the end of next week.
Trained in Berkshire, England, by Roger Teal, Tip Two Win is defending an unbeaten record at Al Rayyan, having won on both his visits there last winter. He went on to frank that form in the Guineas, when those finishing behind him included such superstars as the subsequent Epsom Derby winner, Masar; the European Horse Of The Year, Roaring Lion; and the Breeders’ Cup Mile hero, Expert Eye.
Tip Two Win has not raced since finishing unplaced in the G2 Qatar Lennox Stakes at Goodwood on July 31. He had earlier come home in fourth in the G1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
He is one of five European-trained Thoroughbreds declared to run at the festival, where he will contest the $500,000 Qatar Derby over a mile and a quarter on turf on Saturday, December 22.
He will as usual be ridden by David Probert when he is part of a 12-runner line-up alongside three-time listed scorer Mr Satchmo (trained in France by Antoine de Watrigant and ridden by Olivier Peslier), and Tadgh O’Shea’s mount, Ming, who was beaten less than four lengths in the G1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park in August and is trained in Ireland by Joseph O’Brien.
Home hopes largely rest with the 1-2-3 from last month’s Thoroughbred Guineas: Prepare For Battle, Al Adaid and Alhazm.
On Friday, December 21, there will be two British runners among a 12-strong field for the $100,000 Al Rayyan Stakes – Concierge (trained by George Scott and ridden by Jason Watson) and Don Armado (trained by Stuart Williams and ridden by Probert). This is a seven furlong turf contest which Tip Two Win won last December before returning to Doha to land the Al Biddah Mile eight weeks later.
Roger Teal, trainer of Tip Two Win, said, “Tip Two Win had a racecourse gallop at Kempton Park on Tuesday morning and put a big smile on my face. He went so well that I’m starting to get nervous already ahead of the Qatar Derby. David [Probert] rode him and he went one circuit, which is a mile and a quarter, in the company of High Acclaim, who is a very good work horse. They went a nice strong pace all the way.
“David was delighted with him and thought that he had really strengthened up since he last ran back in July.
“We had hoped to get him ready for the Breeders’ Cup, but I didn’t want to force him and we ran out of time. Royal Ascot did not go to plan but he still made up a lot of ground, so the only time that he really disappointed us was in the Lennox Stakes and that was a race too far – he was jaded.
“He’s going really nicely again now and it’s just a matter of trying to squeeze out an extra two furlongs so that he can last the mile and a quarter of the Qatar Derby. Al Rayyan is a nice level track and he will be able to bounce off the fast surface there so, if he’s going to get a mile and a quarter anywhere, it will be in Doha. It’s great prize money and they looked after us so well last year that we have to give it another go.”
The festival also features two big races for purebred Arabians - worth $150,000 and $100,000.
Nasser Bin Sherida Al Kaabi, General Manager of the Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club, said: “The Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club is very pleased with the quality of the entries for this year’s Qatar International Derby Festival.
“I look forward to hosting so many international friends and horses at the festival as we once more take the opportunity to promote Qatar as a world hub for horseracing and a leader in the pure Arabian breed.”