Picture: 123RF/Chris Van Lennep
Picture: 123RF/Chris Van Lennep

Tony Millard, dual champion trainer in SA before relocating to Hong Kong in 1999, is eyeing two rich races in the Middle East for his top horse Elusive State: the $20m Saudi Cup and the $12m Dubai World Cup.

A son of All American out of a Redoute’s Choice mare, Elusive State notched the ninth win of his career at Sha-Tin on Sunday and had Millard dreaming of big riches for the gelding in 2021.

“It’s just lovely to have a horse like him and also to have a dream — that’s what it’s all about,” Millard enthused after the win.

“One would have liked to have gone to Saudi Arabia — the Saudi Cup would have been his race over 1,800m and that would be the actual race for him,” the 59-year-old trainer added.

Millard, son of legendary trainer Terrance Millard who died in 2019, has excelled with a number of top-class performers. In SA he trained three “horse-of-the-year” winners in Empress Club, Jet Master and Surfing Home and in Hong Kong the darling of punters was 13-time winner Ambitious Dragon, victor in the 2011 QE Cup.

A trip to Rijadh or Dubai would not be ground-breaking as far as overseas forays by the Millard stable are concerned. In 2015 he saddled Super Jockey to run second in the grade 1 Golden Shaheen in Dubai and a year later the same horse won the grade 1 Korea Sprint.

There are, however, two hurdles to be overcome before Elusive State makes the final field for the Saudi Cup at the King Abdulaziz racetrack in Rijadh on February 20.

Millard is concerned about travel obstacles from Hong Kong to Rijadh and as Elusive State is not among the original entries the gelding’s owners will have to cough up $200,000 as a late entry fee.

The Dubai World Cup — scheduled for March 27 — is the other possible target for Elusive State and Millard knows he has the perfect man in the saddle for either race, Hong Kong champion Jose Moreira.

If Elusive State does make it to the Saudi Cup (2020’s winning purse has still not been paid due to a US investigation and litigation in a doping scandal allegedly tied to Jason Servis, trainer of Maximum Security) there is likely to be some stiff opposition. John Gosden has entered French Derby winner Mishriff, and William Haggas grade 1 winner Addeybb.

There are a 100 entries from nine countries for the 1,800m Saudi Cup — now a race with a $8m larger purse than the Dubai World Cup.

Meanwhile, the final field for the Cape Met on January 30 will be announced on Wednesday and the latest betting suggests there are six principal runners — Belgarion, Rainbow Bridge, Golden Ducat, Do It Again, Queen Supreme and Princess Calla.

Punters need to shop around for the best prices with the major betting firms. World Sports Betting quote Belgarion at 22-10 while Lance Michael has the favourite shorter at 19-10.

However, for the remaining five top horses, Michael’s price is better than World Sports Betting. It quotes Rainbow Bridge at 9-2 (4-1 with WSB), 11-2 Golden Ducat (5-1 with WSB), 6-1 Do It Again (11-2 with WSB), 7-1 Queen Supreme (6-1 with WSB) and 12-1 Princess Calla (10-1 with WSB).

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