By Duane Fonseca
Simon Crisford was left brimming with confidence after Algiers dropped his name in the hat as a potential Group 1 Saudi Cup and Dubai World Cup prospect with a stunning six and a half lengths victory in the feature event on the opening night of the 2023 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan.
The 6yo son of Shamardal was gelded after finishing eighth in last year’s Group 2 Godolphin Mile and the procedure seems to have done him a world of good with his victory in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 over 1600m, the best among his two wins in four starts since.
Trained jointly by Simon and his son Ed, Algiers won last year’s Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile with a determined drive up the hill by a length and a half from Remorse before a reversal on the Dubai World Cup card in the Godolphin Mile.
Returning to Britain, Algiers showed some good form winning a 2100m turf handicap at York before being beaten in two Listed events, the latter a narrow shorthead defeat by Missed The Cut in the Churchill Stakes on the all-weather at Lingfield.
Algiers was to appear in the Quebec Stakes at Lingfield just before Christmas, but after that fixture was abandoned he was shipped to Dubai where Jebel Ali Mile winning partner James Doyle took the reins yet again. Doyle kept Algiers in a prime position to strike, settling him off the pace and bringing him to the front three wide, hitting the straight.
With space to extend, Algiers stretched fully and galloped home commandingly. “All credit to Algiers, he was really tough out there,” said co-winning trainer Simon Crisford. “We wondered beforehand if he'd had enough match practice on this surface against these horses, but he's handled it really well. “He’s won over 10½f (2100m) at York and in France so he should get it.
He will be in the World Cup, he's also in the big race in Saudi [at the end of February], and we'll look at the next leg of the Maktoum Challenge too.” Algiers’s win was Doyle’s 99th UAE success and with two more on the night, he signed off with his 101st as well.
Speaking of the ride aboard Algiers, he said: “The draw (11) was always a worry and I had to go four or five wide around the turn, giving away ground, but he's shown again he's a good horse.” Crisford's training partner and son Ed was reported to have said: “He missed the Quebec with the weather freezing everything over, but he was fit and well coming into tonight and it was a very good performance.
We were a bit concerned about the draw as if you get a bit of kickback it can be tough on them, especially if they’re not seasoned on it, but he travelled extremely well and I thought James rode a very sensible race. He was drawn 15 in the Godolphin Mile last year and he was out the back and it was just one of those runs you put a line through.
It’s all about how they jump and travel on dirt and he did it the right way round. He has also been gelded since last year. He put in a career best performance at Lingfield when Missed The Cut just beat him and tonight he’s beaten seasoned dirt horses and put it to bed very quickly, so it looks like he’s improved again.”