Likely Runners Revealed For $35.35million Saudi Cup Meeting

Friday 10 February 2023


10 February 2023 – The likely runners for the $35.35 million Saudi Cup meeting on 24-25 February have been announced, with horses from 15 different racing nations set to compete over the two days.

King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh will host 16 races on its dirt and turf tracks, and the highlight of the meeting, the $20million Group 1 Saudi Cup, looks set to be contested by runners from five different countries.

The field is headed by last year’s winner Emblem Road (USA), who bids to become the first horse to win the Group 1 contest more than once. He will be ridden by Panamanian Alexis Moreno, and comes into the contest after an impressive victory when last seen.

The challenge from Japan looks stronger than ever with six likely contenders, including Dubai Turf winner Panthalassa (JPN) and Jun Light Bolt (JPN), the winner of the Group 1 Champions Cup. Other runners from Japan are Cafe Pharoah (JPN), Crown Pride (JPN), Geoglyph (JPN) and Vin De Garde (JPN).

Trainer Bob Baffert will be hoping his Country Grammer (USA) can go one better than last year, while he’ll also saddle Taiba (USA), the dominant winner of the Group 1 Malibu Stakes when last seen.

Two-time British Group 1 winner Saffron Beach (IRE) represents the European challenge in the world’s most valuable race, while in addition to Emblem Road, the local challenge features Custodian Of The Two Holy Mosques victor Scotland Yard (USA).

Many other top-class runners are set to take up their places in Riyadh, across a card which features a further six Group races.

In the $1.5million Group 3 Neom Turf Cup presented by Altanfeethi, there’s a strong European contingent set to line up with George Boughey’s Missed The Cut (USA) and William Knight’s Sir Busker (IRE) among those involved.

All eyes will be on Charlie Johnston’s Subjectivist (GB) in the Group 3 Longines Red Sea Turf Handicap as he makes his long-awaited return to action, while Frankie Dettori will ride John & Thady Gosden’s Ebor hero Trawlerman (IRE).

Japan’s Dancing Prince (JPN) will attempt to defend his crown in the $1.5million Group 3 Riyadh Dirt Sprint presented by Sports Boulevard, alongside fellow Japanese raiders Remake (JPN), Ryuno Yukina (JPN) and Justin (JPN).

US trainers also hold a strong hand in the race, with William Mott’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner, Elite Power (USA) set to run while Steve Assmussen’s Gunite (USA), is another interesting contender.

The Group 3 1351 Turf Sprint presented by stc also features a strong field, including last year’s winner Songline (JPN) who will take on a stellar European challenge featuring Charlie Appleby’s Creative Force (IRE) and Charlie Hills’ Pogo (IRE).

Baffert’s Havnameltdown (USA) is a main contender in the 1600m $1.5million Group 3 Saudi Derby presented by Boutique Group while Uruguayan-trained Es Unico (BRZ) will also take his chance. They face a strong local challenge from six Saudi-trained horses including Almulhelm (USA) trained by Abdullah Alfarraj, Almurtajiz (USA) trained by Ahmed Abdulwahad and Atta Alghali (USA) trained by Abdah Alathaab.

The Saudi Cup card also features the $2million Obaiya Arabian Classic for Purebred Arabians, which has been upgraded to Group 1 status after being run as a Group 2 last season.

There has been a strong entry with horses from France, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman joining locally trained runners. Tilal Al Khalediah (KSA), runner-up from 12 months ago and last year’s third-placed horse RB Rich Lyke Me (USA) both feature while Samlla (FR) will pose a threat from France.

Friday 24 February sees 16 of the world’s top international riders – seven female and seven male – compete in the International Jockeys Challenge.

Jockeys including Frankie Dettori, Joao Moreira, Luis Saez, Yuga Kawada and last year’s winner Caitlin Jones will compete for a jockeys’ prize fund of $100,000.




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