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Crystal Palace’s James Tomkins can win £1.1million race with ‘Jamie Vardy’ horse

Before Crystal Palace face Burnley at Selhurst Park in the Premier League on Saturday, James Tomkins will know if his horse Rohaan has won on the Saudi Cup card at Riyadh

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James Tomkins has completed the warm-up and he’s ready for kick-off.

The Crystal Palace star’s next away game is in the Premier League of racing.

His ‘Jamie Vardy’ horse Rohaan has a £1.1million goal in Riyadh to aim at.

Like the Leicester ace, the sprinter rose right through the ranks – and this is his first big international.

Over 3,000 miles away from his Welsh stable, Rohaan tackles Saturday’s Group 3 1351 Turf Sprint (1.25pm).

Part-owner Tomkins, 32, watched the final training session at Lingfield before departure.

“That was the friendly and now it’s his first big game of the season,” he said.

“He has blown away the cobwebs and has gone out there in great order.”

A mainstay in football’s top tier, centre-back Tomkins never thought he’d hit the heights with his hobby.

Rohaan (left) winning the 2021 Wokingham at Royal Ascot
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That was until Chris Kiely, son of Palace goalkeeping coach Dean, nominated Rohaan.

Just days after their transfer deal was secured in May, the horse won a £51,000 first prize at Haydock.

Then he turned up at racing’s Wembley, Royal Ascot – and bagged £64,000 in the Wokingham.

Tomkins, introduced to the sport by his grandad, has always loved the way Rohaan races.

He told Sky Sports the gelding’s “unbelievable” progression was like Vardy’s – from non-league to Premier League champion.

“Rohaan comes to win from off the pace and I’ve been very impressed,” said Tomkins.

Marcus Rashford of Manchester United battles for possession with James Tomkins during a match at Old Trafford
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“I get nervous before he runs, but it’s exciting at the same time.

“On Saturday we (Palace) have Burnley at home. They’ll want to pick up points at this stage of the season.

“Hopefully we will win – two wins would be nice!”

Kiely is particularly enthused by Rohaan’s big race bid – with top jockey Ryan Moore captaining the side.

“The horse is in tip-top condition and this has been the plan for the last six months,” he said.

“We believe he has a Group 1 in him this season. This is a big pot and he’s got a great chance.”

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Tomkins, from Essex, grew up going to Newmarket races, a sporting passion he shares with his brother Luke.

Once man of the match at Wembley for West Ham, he has played at Old Trafford, Anfield and many more.

Used to taking on the best strikers in the country, Tomkins has to change tactics for now – sit back and enjoy the ‘minute to win it’.

“I have no control over how it’s going to go, so it’s a bit different to football,” he said.

“You never know what’s going to happen in a race. There aren’t many jockeys better than Ryan Moore.

“Hopefully Rohaan will be settled nicely for him and they can pick their rivals off one by one.”

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