'We want the best horses on the planet to race here,' says Saudi Arabia horse racing chief

Some of the best horses in the world are set to run on the dirt track at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 07 March 2018

'We want the best horses on the planet to race here,' says Saudi Arabia horse racing chief

LONDON: The director general and secretary of the Saudi Arabian Equestrian Club has said he wants to establish the King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh as a major venue for high-class international racing.
Last month the General Sports Authority announced that the King Abdulaziz Horse Championship would rival the world’s great races by eclipsing the $16 million Pegasus World Cup that is staged at Gulfstream Park in Florida, America in January.
A date for the contest has yet to be given, but when asked whether the proposed race would offer the world’s richest purse, Saleh bin Ali Al-Hammadi said: “That is what we hope, Inshallah.
“I don’t want to talk about it, I want people to see it. As a live event that takes place here. We want the best horses on this planet earth to come and participate on the soil of Saudi Arabia, which we call the ‘Cradle of Horses’.”
Al-Hammadi also said, in a video published on social media: “It’s not a secret when I say there is a huge plan to make this track an international track for international participation. The plan is to have the biggest racing and prize money.”
The race is designed to help Saudi Arabia burnish its credentials as a key player in world horseracing, and to try to share its historic and cultural legacy of equestrianism.
According to a recent report, there are 28,000 horses in the Kingdom and more than 3,000 Arabian horses were bred in 14 studs in 2016.
Last week it was announced that the Riyadh-based Equestrian Club has undergone a management reshuffle, with Al-Hammadi now holding the positions of director general and secretary.
Prince Bandar Bin Khalid Al-Faisal has been appointed chairman, while Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal and Prince Abdullah Bin Khalid Bin Sultan are appointed members of the board, according to a royal decree.
The Equestrian Club, which was established in 1965, organizes races in Riyadh and Taif with the participation of Arabian horses.
The staging of the $17 million King Abdulaziz Horse Championship will top the lot, though, and continue the power struggle at the apex of world horse racing regarding prize money.
Dubai’s World Cup meeting has long been top dog with a purse of $10 million, but it was upstaged in 2017 when Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Arrogate won the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup.
Following Arrogate’s subsequent victory in the World Cup at Meydan Racecourse two months later Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, prime minister of the UAE the ruler of Dubai, said that he had hoped to make the race he inaugurated in 1996 once again the world’s biggest payday. An announcement has not been forthcoming ahead of the World Cup meeting on March 31.
A month later it was announced that prize money for the Pegasus World Cup would be increased to $16 million.

Time for the Sun to shine on Hyderabad in the IPL

Updated 52 min 26 sec ago

Time for the Sun to shine on Hyderabad in the IPL

  • Can MS Dhoni lead the Super Kings to another IPL title?
  • Who are the players to watch out for?

LONDON: The 12th edition of the Indian Premier League gets underway today with the usual razzmatazz, stacks of cash — in cricketing terms at least, pure conspicuous consumption — on display. This is the form of leather on willow that is as close to pure Americana as you are going to find.
As much as $15 million was shelled out at this year’s auction on 60 players. You only have to look at the riches the players are now earning to realize why every big-hitting batsman or wily bowler wants a piece of the IPL. Varun Chakravarthy went for $1.2 million, a millionaire overnight having not even played for his country.
Once again the Chennai Super Kings are the team to beat. Under MS Dhoni the powerhouses have won three titles — a record they share with the Mumbai Indians.
Here we give you the lowdown on cricket’s brashest format and take a peek into our crystal ball to tell you what we think is going to happen.

DELHI CAPITALS (8th last year)

Have only made the last four three times, finished rock bottom last year and decided something had to change. So they changed their name from the Daredevils to the Capitals, the new name as prosaic as their past cricket. They have added Shikhar Dhawan for power at the top of the order and to compliment the decent bowling attack of Trent Boult and Kagiso Rabada.
ARAB NEWS SAYS: The only way is up but will finish outside the top four.


The winners of the first IPL they have made the last four three times since. A look at their batting line-up — Steve Smith, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Ajinkya Rahane — will always trouble the opposition bowlers and with Jofra Archer and Jaydev Unadkat in the attack will always take wickets. Can they back up their impressive team sheet with equally impressive results?
ARAB NEWS SAYS: Will reach the last four but will miss the departing Stokes and Buttler who leave for a pre-World Cup training camp.


An impressive spin attack of Ravi Ashwin, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Chakravarthy will once again prove that T20, once thought to be the graveyard for slow bowlers, is a game built just for them. They will look for West Indies legend Chris Gayle to find his big-hitting range early on to give them the totals to defend.
ARAB NEWS SAYS: Could prove to be the surprise package if, and it is a big if, their big names fire. We think they will just miss out on the last four.

Will Chris Gayle fire again this season? (AFP)


One look at their batting line-up is enough to give any bowler the dreaded yips. Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers could have their very own “who is the greatest short-form batsman of all-time” competition. The addition of Marcus Stoinis will give the side more balance and a chance of winning their first title.
ARAB NEWS SAYS: A side with Kohli and De Villiers cannot go three years without a top-four finish.


The Manchester United of the IPL, they have won three titles and with Rohit Sharma as captain, and a settled side — Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah just three of the retained stars — will always be a danger. But they finished outside the top four last year and perhaps miss a bit of fire power in the batting department.
ARAB NEWS SAYS: Another year outside the top four.

Virat Kohli is dangerous no matter what the format. (AFP) 


Last year’s top-four finish was a surprise and there is the sense they will struggle to match that this time around. With Windies stars Carlos Brathwaite and Andre Russell in the side and spin king Sunil Narine they will always have a chance but it is perhaps expecting too much to repeat last season’s surge to the semis.
ARAB NEWS SAYS: They will not be able to repeat last year’s heroics and will finish in sixth.


The team to beat, they have kept most of their title-winning side from last year and still have MS Dhoni — will he ever retire? — at the helm. It is hard to make a case for them not reaching the final, harder still not making the last four. If there is one possible worry is it that they have not strengthened much over the winter.
ARAB NEWS SAYS: In the last four.


Will still be smarting from their heavy defeat in the final at the hands of Chennai last year. They look to have the strongest batting line-up with Kane Williamson, Martin Guptil, Jonny Bairstow and David Warner to share the big-hitting responsibilities and with spinner of the moment Rashid Khan they will always be able to take wickets.