One of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia’s (JCSA) major domestic season cups, The Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques, has been granted international Listed classification by the International Federation of Horse Racing.
With an average rating over the last three years of 102.17, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques represents the JCSA’s first internationally-classified race held outside of The Saudi Cup.
Simultaneously the JCSA’s programme of Purebred Arabian racing was enhanced this week when the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing confirmed two Saudi Cup weekend races, the USD$2m Obaiya Arabian Classic and the $1m Al Mneefah Cup, will be run as a Group 1 and a Group 2 respectively.
The positive announcements come as the JCSA heads into the 2022-23 Riyadh racing season, which gets underway at King Abdulaziz Racecourse on Thursday October 27, 2022, and includes the $35.35m Saudi Cup weekend, as well as a number of other major cups.
HRH Prince Bandar Bin Khalid Alfaisal, Chairman of the JCSA said: “The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia continues to develop its capabilities and capacity to service a growing racing industry within The Kingdom. Contributing positively at a regional and wider international level remains a key priority for us and our continued forward momentum in all development areas bears this out.
We are grateful to be supported and guided by our country’s leadership and are pleased to be a positive contributing factor to the realisation of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 strategy.
“Our commitment to ensuring the future of Purebred Arabian racing is borne out by the progress we are making and we look forward to hosting the best Arabian horses from around the world during Saudi Cup weekend.
“The JCSA continues to implement infrastructure improvements at King Abdulaziz Racecourse which further enhance the movement and hosting of both people and horses and we look forward to welcoming racegoers to a new and exciting Riyadh racing season as we build towards our fourth annual Saudi Cup.”
The 2000m SAR1.5m, ($400,000) Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup, run this season on January 28, 2023, was previously run as a domestic Group 1 and is a Saudi Cup qualifier.
Last season’s winner, Making Miracles (GB), a stablemate of eventual Saudi Cup victor, Emblem Road (USA), went on to finish fourth in the 1800m Group 1 $20m showpiece last February.
For the first time this season The Saudi Cup meeting, scheduled to take place on the 24-25 February 2023, will feature two international Group 1s, comprising part of two eight-race cards worth a total of $35.35m across the weekend.
The $2m Obaiya Arabian Classic, won last season by the French-trained Hadi De Carrere, (FR) joins The Saudi Cup as a top-level international contest on Saudi’s biggest race day.
In addition, the $1m Al Mneefah Cup, formerly a Listed race, was promoted to Group 2 status in only its second year and is run as a Purebred Arabian highlight on the International Jockeys Challenge card. Taken alongside the Listed King Faisal Cup, held during the Ta’if summer racing season, the JCSA now hosts three internationally classified Purebred Arabian contests.
These rulings by the IFHA and IFAHR mean that the 2023 Saudi Cup card will feature the Group 1 Saudi Cup and Obaiya Arabian Classic, the Group 2 Al Mneefah Cup, five Group 3 prizes – Neom Turf Cup, 1351 Turf Sprint, Red Sea Turf Sprint, Saudi Derby and Riyadh Dirt Sprint – the $500k Saudi International Handicap, as well as seven other valuable handicaps and open races.
The new Riyadh racing season will extend until Saturday March 18, 2023, with race meetings held on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays during the season and all races will available on SSC Channel in the GCC region and streamed live on the JCSA YouTube channel.
Please click here to view the Riyadh racing programme.