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Fahey And Ferguson Getting Into The Spirit In Riyadh

[Official Saudi Cup Release] Trainer Richard Fahey has admitted he was "humbled" when first getting the opportunity to train horses for legendary ex-Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and suggested that saddling Spirit Dancer (GB) in Saturday’s US$2m Howden Neom Turf Cup is the "stuff of dreams".

The co-owner’s homebred capped off a memorable year when winning the Bahrain International Trophy in November and following a prep run in Dubai last month, appears a leading contender in the US$2m Howden Neom Turf Cup.

"I felt he would need the run the last day and it looked that way as well," Fahey said. "He has had four or five weeks to acclimatise now. It’s all stuff of dreams, which is becoming a reality when we get to run on Saturday."

Fahey’s association with one of the most successful ever British sportsmen has been fruitful for both parties and the trainer has been able to swap sporting experiences with Ferguson.

"To be fair when I first started training for him I was a little bit humbled," Fahey admitted. "I have some fantastic conversations with him and he has been to the yard three or four times now. He is just a wonderful man and you can see why he has been a success.

"It’s a humbling experience but it’s amazing because even this morning we were discussing footballers and horses and Sir Alex was asking why we didn’t canter on the grass.

"I explained we race on the [grass] surfaces because if we were to train on them all the time we wouldn’t have many horses left so we tend to use the artificial surfaces and he compared it to a very good football team whose training pitch was quite quick and a lot of the players were getting hurt so there is comparisons with football and racing."

Fahey has been impressed with the surroundings in Riyadh and confirmed that the 7-year-old Spirit Dancer has settled in well.

"It’s fantastic here, we are well looked after and the horse is happy. When you come on these trips the most important thing is how the horse is and the horse is in good order," the North Yorkshire-based trainer said. "I’m very pleased with him and at the moment I wouldn’t swap my fella."

There is no hiding the sheer enjoyment that all connections got from Spirit Dancer’s Bahrain victory and Fahey is hoping for more of the same this weekend.

"It has given them a huge amount of pleasure and I think as a trainer we don’t really respect the pleasure horses give to people. For Sir Alex to be animated and excited and for all the team, it was a great win," Fahey recalled.


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