- Champion Saudi jockey dreaming of winning in front of home crowd at The Saudi Cup 2021
Multiple champion of Saudi Arabia Wiggy Ramos, is relishing the prospect of locking horns with some of the world’s best riders in the The Saudi Cup’s stc International Jockeys’ Challenge (IJC) on Friday 19 February at King Abdulaziz Racecourse, Riyadh.
The Panama native has for 23 years plied his trade in the Kingdom but was cruelly robbed of his chance to compete in the event 12 months ago when a broken wrist ruled him out of the event and forced him to miss the rest of the season.
The 52-year-old will line up against fellow weighing room colleague and local jockey Adel Alfouraidi and the likes of Britain’s William Buick in a bid to increase his near 600 winners achieved in Saudi Arabia, in addition to the near 1500 he rode during a previous eight-year-spell in America.
“Racing in Saudi Arabia is very different to the USA,” said Ramos. “In the USA, they race very fast, and it’s very tough. Over here, you have to take your time and be patient as there are 20 horses in almost every race.
“The dirt track at King Abdulaziz Racecourse is very good, and I think it’s one of the best tracks I’ve ever ridden on. I haven’t raced on the turf track yet, but I have ridden on other turf tracks around the world, such as in France and America.
“Last year I saw a couple of The Saudi Cup races on the turf, but only as a spectator, as I was unable to ride due to a wrist injury, but I thought the turf track looked very nice and classy.”
The two-day meeting climaxes with the $20million Saudi Cup - a race which Ramos would love to cap his career with victory in.
He said: “That is my goal right now, because I’ve been riding here for nearly 23 years, and I’m close to retiring, so to win The Saudi Cup would be a really great way to finish my career.”
The Saudi Cup meeting is only in its second year but is part of a progressive movement to enhance the sport in Saudi Arabia, and Ramos has seen plenty of improvements since his arrival in 1998 to ride for HRH Prince Faisal bin Khaled.
“It’s changed a lot over the years,” he said. “The racecourses, the quality of the tracks, the jockeys and the level of their riding, and the standard of the horses competing – everything has improved hugely. It’s a very exciting time for horseracing in Saudi Arabia right now.
“I’ve been lucky enough to ride good horses since I started winning Group One races. Right now, I think it has to be a horse called Aereeb Alsseet that I am currently riding from the Alshareef Hazzaa Shaker Alabdali stable – he’s a very tough horse.”
Away from the upcoming meeting, Ramos keeps a keen eye on the global racing scene, and added: “There are a couple of horses that have retired, who would have been incredible to ride.
“I always dreamed of riding Enable, the record-breaking mare that Frankie Dettori rode – that would have been amazing!”
Maybe even more amazing for Ramos would be a winner in front of his home crowd beating the world’s best on February 19.
This year’s stc International Jockeys Challenge will take place on Friday February 19 – the day before the $20million Saudi Cup. Jockeys will be made up of seven international women, two local men and five international men. The prize money in each of the four races will be $400,000 and there is a $100,000 prize pot for the stc Jockeys Challenge with $30,000 going to the winner.