Carrying the orange and black colours of HH Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi's RRR Racing, the son of Speightstown enters the tough contest as one of the serious players, thanks to a strong score in Meydan's G3 Dubawi on Jan. 21--his third victory at the level and sixth lifetime.
"He came out of the race in great shape," said Bhupat Seemar, assistant trainer to Satish Seemar. "For us, that was only his first run--he was with Doug (Watson) before and obviously Steve Asmussen before that--so I can only say what we've seen from him and he's been very good in the mornings at Zabeel (Stables). He's a superb horse in the mornings and a flamboyant galloper. Mickael Barzalona galloped (breezed) him Monday morning and he was really happy with him. He will ride him in Saudi."
Last year, the same connections entered Gladiator King--also fresh of G3 success in Dubai--to finish a respectable third in this. Gladiator King was astern Switzerland last out, obviously needing the run, but never seriously challenging his banner-mate when the real running commenced.
"I hope he travels well and everything just goes according to plan," Seemar continued. "I think there are some tough horses in there, but I really like how Switzerland is doing. The really tough ones could be the Japanese, especially Matera Sky, who is very quick and a class horse. He was second in it last year and was second here in the (G1 Dubai Golden) Shaheen. He's fast and will be on the lead, so if he's let loose, he'll be tough to peg back."
Strategy will definitely be paramount for the chocolate-brown Switzerland. Quick enough to go to the front, he showed a new dimension when stalking wide and free of sand last out. If he wishes for a replay of that scenario, the post position will be of utmost importance. The barrier draw takes place on Wednesday.
"One thing he doesn't want is cover," Seemar explained. "If you look at all his winning races in America, he was always on the lead and didn't face a lot of kickback. He tried it here a couple times--to take back behind horses--and it just didn't work out for him. If they're going really fast on the lead, he can hopefully lay off them out of the kickback and come running again like he did at Meydan. The draw is obviously important, as well. I would like to be in the first four somewhere early."
Having a live contender once again on Saudi Cup Day is quite an accomplishment for UAE's reigning champion training yard, proving once again that Dubai's premier horses can stack up against some of the very best in the world. Maintaining such company remains the goal after Saudi, as well, as Switzerland will surely be turning his watch ahead to Dubai World Cup Day and the $1.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen.
Seemar: "We've been kind of lucky to be in this position. Last year, we had North America in the Saudi Cup and Gladiator King in the (Riyadh) Sprint, who was arguably the best sprinter in Dubai at the time. He got bumped in the race, which I think cost him second place, but he ran really well. The good thing is we've been there once and we know the script. We know what to do and what not to do, so we feel like we are in with a good chance with Switzerland."