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John Gosden believes Lord North facing tough task in Turf defence

John Gosden is always a towering presence on the backstretch of any international meeting, and the Clarehaven trainer was again a magnetic focus of media attention when striding onto the training area at Meydan on Thursday morning.

He was in full flow after supervising Lord North in exercise on the grass track ahead of Saturday’s Dubai Turf, in which the seven-year-old will try to defend the nine-furlong title he claimed last year.

Gosden, who trains in partnership with his son Thady, also saddles Harrovian in the Turf, with the pair the only runners for the team on a richly-endowed card.

Lord North defends his Dubai Turf title at Meydan
Lord North defends his Dubai Turf title at Meydan (Megan Ridgwell/PA)

He said: “Lord North won the Dubai Turf last year but the renewal looks a tougher race and the Sheema Classic looks exceptional. In the Sheema, the Japanese horses look mightily impressive and it is a top-class mile-and-a-half contest.

“Our horse (Mishriff, last year’s Sheema winner) had dirt go down his throat in Saudi but he will be back for Ascot.

“Owing to a throat infection, Lord North was unable to run for a while, but I had him out under the lights this morning and Frankie (Dettori) was very happy with him. In the Winter Derby Trial he ran very well and after cantering on the grass just now it’s all steam ahead.

“Harrovian also has every chance of getting a piece of it, and I’m very happy with him.”

Harrovian (nearside) is the other Gosden-trained runner at Meydan
Harrovian (nearside) is the other Gosden-trained runner at Meydan (Mike Egerton/PA)

The trainer has a soft spot for Meydan racecourse, which opened in 2010, replacing the previous Nad Al Sheba track.

He added: “It’s a great track, Meydan. The way it’s laid out is superb and it rightly attracts the best horses in the world. I’ve been coming since 1986 and love it out here.

“In my view, the more international racing we have, the better. The Japanese input is important. Their model is part of a government project and they are breeding some of the finest horses in the world.”

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