Spanish Mission faces key test as Team Valor targets more World Cup day riches

Spanish Mission (9) winning the $1m Jockey Club Derby Invitational at Belmont in September. Photo: Susie Raisher/

Dubai World Cup-winning owner Team Valor International is hoping for more Meydan glory and could have a pair of runners at the $35 million raceday on March 28.

If all goes well with necessary preparations and invitations, UK-based Spanish Mission, winner of Belmont’s $1 million Jockey Club Derby Invitational and Newmarket’s G3 Bahrain Trophy, could have either the $6 million G1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic over a mile and a half or the $1.5 million G2 Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors over two miles on his schedule.

Additionally, California-based G3 winner Oleksandracould may go for the $2 million G1 Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by Azizi Developments. 

Spanish Mission, trained by David Simcock in Newmarket, arrived in the UAE on February 13 and cleared quarantine two days later for his conditioner, who has already head a fruitful Dubai World Cup Carnival, with a pair of victories from only six starts. The son of Noble Mission is expected to run next Thursday (February 27) in the Dubai Gold Cup’s final local prep, the $300,000 G3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy over 2800m (a mile and three quarters). 

Barry Irwin Team Valor CEO, said, “After that, we will decide whether to run him at 12 or 16 furlongs on World Cup night. He is quite versatile. Long range, we think he is a Melbourne Cup horse.” 

On the other side of the distance spectrum is Oleksandra, who began her career in Australia and is a daughter of Team Valor’s Dubai World Cup winner, Animal Kingdom. A turf sprinter, she won Keeneland’s G3 Franklin County Stakes over 1100m (5½ furlongs) in October for trainer Neil Drysdale and has been working steadily this winter at Santa Anita. 

“She worked (800m) in :50 this morning, something she has done once a week for more than a month as she was being freshened,” said Irwin. “Now Neil Drysdale will start cranking her up at Santa Anita, ship her to Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida to breeze on the grass March 16 to break up the trip to Dubai, then fly her to UAE on March 17. Joel Rosario will ride her at Meydan.”

Team Valor, which has already had two lucrative starts this DWC Carnival dual G2 runner-up Nisreen. “We are going to bring Nisreen back to France on February 23,” Irwin added. “We are going to breed her in France to Le Havre, keep her in training and probably offer her in December at either Arqana or Tattersalls.”

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