Luis Saez celebrates with the trophy after winning the Saudi Cup on Maximum Security. Reuters
Maximum Security, ridden by Luis Saez, claimed the inaugural $20-million Saudi Cup at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh on Saturday. Maximum Security overtook Midnight Bisou inside the final furlong and held off a late charge from Midnight Bisou to take the coveted trophy at the world’s richest race.
Earlier, New York Central, racing in the colours of Prince Faisal Bin Khalid bin Abdulaziz, got up in the final strides to win the premiere edition of the $1,500,000 Saudia Cup (Sprint) by a head under US-based jockey Irad Ortiz Jnr.
The 5-year-old Tapit colt caught the Japanese-based Matera Sky (US), who had mounted what seemed to be an insurmountable lead at the top of the stretch. The 1200 metres on the King Abdulaziz dirt track was timed in 1:11.68
Matera Sky broke fastest of all in the field of 13 and had a lead of about five lengths as they turned for home while New York Central was near the back of the pack in the middle of the track mounting a furious rally in the final 400m for the one-length victory, scoring one for the host country on its biggest night of racing.
The 2018 Dubai Kahayla Classic winner Tallaab Al Khalediah (Saudi Arabia) overcame a 10-month absence to lift the inaugural Obaiya Cup (Arabian Classic), now the richest event in the Purebred Arabian racing world with prize-money of $1,900,000.
Ridden by Roberto Perez, who has been based in Saudi Arabia for many years, the Saad Mutlaq trained Tallaab Al Khalediah left the gates to take the lead in the 2000m race and was never threatened. Hajres (TUN), trained in France, closed in on him in the final stages but had to settle for second place, three lengths behind. Mashhur Al Khalediah (FR) finished third.
World-class jockey Olivier Peslier had to use all his experience to weave his way between horses on the Freddy Head-trained Call The Wind (GB) to win Saturday’s $2,500,000 Longines Turf Handicap.
Call The Wind recorded a two-and-a-half length success which seemed somewhat unlikely with 600m left to race as the six-year-old was placed sixth at that stage. However, Peslier maintained his patience and Call The Wind, a son of the legendary Frankel, won quite impressively at the finish.
Victory in the third race on the turf track of the evening went to the legendary French trainer, following two wins earlier on the card for Bahrain-based trainers. Head’s current stable star showed his versatility for varying ground conditions as he relished the new turf surface in Riyadh.
British challenger Mekong (GB), also a son of Frankel, finished strongly under Jamie Spencer to claim second place for trainer Jamie Osborne, while the globetrotting Prince Of Arran (GB) ran another fine race for trainer Charlie Fellowes.
In the second race on the card, Bahrain-based Dark Power (IRE) displayed his prowess for the unique 1351m distance in the well-labelled $1,000,000 stc 1351 Turf Sprint, running down Godolphin’s Charlie Appleby-trained Mubtasim (IRE) under a beautifully-timed Frankie Dettori ride.
Owned by Al Adiyat Racing, the Allan Smith-conditioned son of Dark Angel rewarded his trainer’s faith and stepped up in class with finesse under a tremendous closing ride.
The final time was 1:19.63, with the winner overpowering the runner-up by a length. It was another two lengths back to Appleby’s Glorious Journey in third.
The $1,000,000 Mohamed Yousuf Naghi Motors Cup was the first ever turf race to be held at King Abdulaziz Racetrack and the top spot went to the Bahrain-based Port Lions (IRE) for trainer Fawzi Nass.
After missing the start, Port Lions had to settle with sitting in the back of the pack for the majority of the way around the pristine turf course. As the field turned for home, jockey Adrie de Vries expertly got the horse off the rail and up alongside Group 1-winning Japanese mare, Deirdre (JPN).
It was a thrilling finish fit for a history-making race that will surely launch Saudi Arabia firmly into the centre of the turf racing world.
Organisers of the Saudi Cup, the world’s richest horse race, have said they will withhold the $20 million prize purse pending the completion of an internal investigation after winning trainer Jason Servis was indicted in a doping scheme.
The world’s largest oil exporter is facing a deep recession after the COVID-19 pandemic curbed global crude demand and measures to contain the coronavirus hurt domestic activity.
Finance officials from the Group of 20 countries on Saturday called for wide participation by bilateral creditors to implement a debt freeze initiative for the world’s poorest countries.
The UAE show jumping team clinched the bronze medal at the 19th Asian Games, the nation’s first Asian Games team medal since 2010, solidifying its position as a dominant force in the sport.
A unique 2030 World Cup is set to be played in Europe and Africa with the surprising addition of South America in a deal to allow the men’s soccer tournament to start with a 100th birthday party in Uruguay.
"I think the hospitality was nice — we were not expecting this, but I think the way people are responding towards our team, everyone enjoyed it," Azam said in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.