Uruguay star on course for possible
Saudi Cup mission

Miracle horse Aero Trem being prepared in Dubai ahead of potential tilt at world’s most valuable race

Aero Trem wins the Gran Premio Latinoamericano under jockey Vagner Leal -  Credit: El País / Héctor García

South American superstar Aero Trem is on course to fly the flag for Uruguay in The Saudi Cup next year.

The winner of the Group 1 Gran Premio Latinoamericano, South America’s most prestigious prize, has been shipped to Dubai to continue his preparation for the world’s most valuable race.

It will be a remarkable achievement just to line up in the $20 million showpiece, set to be run as a Group 1 for the first time, at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh on Saturday February 26.

The six-year-old nearly died when struck down by a serious bout of colic after winning the first two legs of Uruguay’s Triple Crown three years ago.

He has since developed into South America’s best horse and his ambitious trainer Antonio Cintra is keen to test his stable star against some of the world’s top performers.

Assistant trainer Julio Olascoaga is overseeing Aero Trem’s preparation in Dubai and said: “Aero Trem arrived on Monday. He travelled for two days to get to Dubai. He went from Uruguay to Germany and from Germany to Dubai. Horses usually lose weight in transit but, for him, it was like nothing had happened.

“He’s arrived in fantastic condition. I took some blood and that was amazing. He can take all these things very well. I’m very happy with him – he looks great. He will start training at the end of the week.

“We’re just waiting for an invitation to The Saudi Cup and then we’ll work towards that. He’s very highly-rated so I don’t think he will have a problem getting in.”

Aero Trem won Uruguay’s most important race over 1600m, the Gran Premio Pedro Pineyrua at Maroñas, for the second successive year in January before landing the Gran Premio Latinoamericano in October.

It was only the second time in 38 years that a horse trained in Uruguay had landed South America’s greatest race, run this year at Maroñas.

The field contained the best horses from across the continent and Aero Trem was successful in course-record time. He led home a one-two for Brazilian Cintra - four-times Champion Trainer in Uruguay - with Atletico El Culano finishing runner-up in the 2000m dirt-track contest.

The victory came less than three years after Aero Trem had come dangerously close to losing his life to colic.

Olascoaga explained: “He had huge surgery and it was amazing work from the vets. He lost 150kg and it took a lot of time for him to recover.

“He’s a horse that impresses you – when you think he might get beaten he just appears. In the Group 1s he has the extra power, he’s amazing.

“Antonio has a dream to get his horses into the biggest races so we’re working towards The Saudi Cup. It’s a dream, a dream that might come true. It’s unbelievable where this horse can take us.

“It’s not just important for us – it’s important for Uruguay and South America. We are testing how far we can go and how good the horses are. It’s about measuring our horses on the world stage to see where we are.

“When you compete against the best it makes you better. If you’re always competing at the same level you will never improve. If you raise the bar you have to push yourself to be better.

“That’s even more important than the prize money. Money is important but it’s not everything.

“We’ve never been to Saudi but we’ve heard about the track from people we know. They say the track will suit the Uruguayan horses much better than Dubai as it has a longer straight. The Uruguayan tracks generally have long straights so it’s pretty similar.

“A fast pace will suit him, the distance will suit him, the track will suit him.”

Big-race jockey Vagner Leal, a Brazilian based in Uruguay, is expected to arrive in Dubai later this week. He will help with the preparation of Cintra’s team and will take the ride on Aero Trem, who races in the colours of Brazilian owners Haras Old Friends, if he makes it in to The Saudi Cup field.

The trainer’s horses based in Dubai include last year’s Uruguay Derby hero El Patriota, a winner in Dubai in February, and talented three-year-old Perfect Love. They will both be entered in the Saudi International Handicap run on the opening day of The Saudi Cup meeting on Friday February 25.

The Uruguayan runners at the glittering Saudi Cup meeting will have at least one famous supporter. Manchester United footballer Edison Cavani owns horses trained by Cintra and he has been keeping a close eye on the progress of the potential Saudi raiders.

Olascoaga added: “He’s a very nice guy. He came to play for Uruguay in a World Cup qualifier and he came straight from the airport to the races. Everyone was going crazy.

“He loves horses and he’s supportive of racing. It’s very good for the industry, he brings the fans in.”

About The Saudi Cup
Organised by the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia and run at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, The Saudi Cup is a two-day festival of international racing headlined by the USD$20m Saudi Cup – the world’s most valuable race.

Established in 2020 with the third renewal set to be run on Saturday February 26, 2022, The Saudi Cup day card carries a total prize purse of $30.5m and features dirt and turf races for the highest calibre of racehorses in the world.

A full card of racing on the preceding Friday includes an International Jockeys Challenge which sees seven female and seven male jockeys compete as individuals as well as the $500,000 Saudi International Handicap for horses trained in IFHA-registered Part II and III racing countries.

The Saudi Cup is charged with raising awareness of horse racing in the country, encouraging participation among men and women. It also aims to promote Saudi Arabia at international level, acting as a marker for the Kingdom’s transformational journey, encouraging tourism and investment.

Source: The Saudi Cup/Media

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