Wigberto Ramos celebrates after winning the 20:35 Saudi Cup with horse Emblem Road on Saturday. Reuters
The 66-1 outsider, ridden by Panamanian jockey Wigberto Ramos, stormed up the outside in the home straight to win a five-horse sprint by a head from US trainer Bob Baffert's Country Grammer.
Saudi-based Ramos and owner Prince Saud Bin Salman Abdulaziz were jubilant afterwards as they were surrounded by fans celebrating the 1,800m race's first Saudi winner in its third edition.
Racegoers watch horses in the parade ring at the King Abdulaziz racetrack in Riyadh. AP
The $10 million first prize capped a lavish, two-day meeting at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse dirt track where 240 horses from 16 countries competed for a total purse of $35.1 million.
Earlier, Christophe Lemaire rode four Japanese winners in the Neom Turf Cup, the Turf Sprint, the Red Sea Turf Handicap and the Riyadh Dirt Sprint.
American trainer Baffert, who is battling doping charges after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive last May, won the Saudi Derby with Pinehurst.
Hadi De Carrere, ridden by Olivier Peslier in action during the 18:25 Obaiya Arabian Classic presented by Lexus. Reuters
The Saudi Cup is part of a Saudi investment spree on high-profile events that has drawn accusations of sportswashing, or attempting to distract from its human rights record.
The deeply conservative kingdom has attracted Formula One and heavyweight boxing, and in October its Public Investment Fund snapped up Premier League football team Newcastle United.
The world's biggest oil exporter is also courting controversy by bankrolling a new Super Golf League, intended as a rival to the US PGA Tour that has long dominated the sport.
Women are pictured in the stands for the Saudi Cup. Reuters
In December, Frenchman Philippe Boutron was badly injured in an explosion while driving a support car during the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia. French investigators found the blast was caused by an improvised explosive device.
A strong field of world class horses, which features the likes of Felix and Glen Force, has been declared for the prestigious Group 1 $4m Dubai Turf.
Now an 8-year-old, after 20 starts he has won just once, his final appearance in his native France, over 1,700m on turf, in July 2018. He joined Mohd Ramadan, making a very pleasing local debut in a conditions race over the same 2,000m as Friday’s race.
The Abu Dhabi turf played host to six races on Sunday and UAE champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea landed four consecutive races for a memorable four-timer, including doubles for both Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and Ernst Oertel.
Racing at Meydan on Thursday features a Stakes race apiece for both the Purebred Arabians and the Thoroughbreds, the latter, the Listed Dubai Creek Mile the most valuable race on the card and attracting a field of 11, including last year’s winner, Thegreatcollection.
Akvile Gedraityte, riding in the colours of the Dubai Police team, dominated the 77 Km Women’s Open category race, taking the top spot with a time of 1:47:23.69.
Tunisian rider Nousri Ali took the Men’s Open crown at the 77km Nad Al Sheba Cycling Championship on Thursday night. The cycling championship is one of the highlights of the 10th NAS Sports Tournament. Held under the theme ‘Limitless Abilities’ and organized by the Dubai Sports Council (DSC), the NAS Sports
They will soon undergo intensive on-snow training combined with dry land sessions focused on acrobatic skills and fitness in Laax Snow Park, Switzerland, one of the world’s best freestyle skiing and snowboarding resorts which hosts the US Open annually.