Top riders saddle up for Saudi Cup preview

Some of the world’s best male and female jockeys will compete over eight races in the Kingdom Day meet on the eve of the inaugural running of the $20 million Saudi Cup on Saturday. (Supplied)
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Updated 28 February 2020

Top riders saddle up for Saudi Cup preview

  • Leading male and female jockeys will feature at King Abdul Aziz Racetrack ahead of the world’s richest horse race

RIYADH: Racing fans will get a taste of the excitement they can expect from the world’s richest horse race, the Saudi Cup, when leading riders compete in the first-ever stc International Jockeys Challenge at King Abdul Aziz Racetrack in Riyadh on Friday.

Some of the world’s best male and female jockeys will compete over eight races in the Kingdom Day meet on the eve of the inaugural running of the $20 million Saudi Cup on Saturday.

Frankie Dettori, the 2019 Longines world’s best jockey, will be among riders from 10 countries taking part.

Dettori is among the favorites to win the opening leg of the challenge on Moshaghebah, a winner of her last race. 

In the 1,400m event, Matmon will be ridden by three-time New Zealand champion Lisa Allpress.

KINGDOM DAY SCHEDULE - FRIDAY

• Race 1: Saudi-bred Maiden Time: 3:20 p.m. (KSA) Distance: 1,400m (7 furlong)

• Race 2: Equestrian Club Award, Saudi-bred, Open Time: 3:45 p.m. Distance: 1,400m (7 furlong)

• Race 3: International Jockeys Challenge, Saudi-bred, Handicap Time: 4:15 p.m. Distance: 1,400m (7 furlong)

• Race 4: International Jockeys Challenge, Imported and Saudi-bred, Handicap Time: 4:45 p.m. Distance 1,600m (1 mile)

• Race 5: Equestrian Club Award, Saudi-bred fillies, Open Time: 5:15 p.m. Distance: 1,600m (1 mile)

• Race 6: International Jockeys Challenge, Saudi-bred, Handicap Time: 5:45 p.m. Distance: 1,800m (1 mile and 1 furlong)

• Race 7: International Jockeys Challenge, Saudi-bred, Handicap Time: 6:30 p.m. Distance: 1,200m (6 furlongs)

• Race 8: Equestrian Club Prize, Saudi-bred, Open Time: 7 p.m. Distance: 1,600m (1 mile))

“I was thrilled to be invited and am excited to be riding against world-class jockeys for world-class trainers,” Allpress said.

“Hopefully I can show what I can do, but in a challenge like this, a lot comes down to the luck of the draw.

“I can’t wait to get out on the track,” she added. “My first impressions were ‘wow.’ We don’t really have anything like this back at home, so I’m really excited to be a part of this.”

In the second leg, Mike Smith, the most successful jockey in Breeders’ Cup history, will ride Sun Hat, a three-time winner in England and a previous winner over 1,650m in Saudi Arabia.

Group 1 winning trainer Bader Rizaiq could make history with two runners, Aeisam and Nassohah, in the second leg of the challenge. Leading British jockey Nicola Currie will ride Aeisam, while Nassohah will be ridden by Canadian Emma-Jayne Wilson. 

In the third leg, Dettori will ride five-time winner Sha Aem, while Adel Alfouraidi will ride Bajeer, a winner of his last start.

French jockey Mickaelle Michel has a strong chance of finishing the challenge on a high in leg four on recent winner Bint Alaqeelah, while Japanese star Yutaka Take has an outside chance on Yafooz.

 


Tiger Woods cautious about return ahead of Memorial

Updated 15 July 2020

Tiger Woods cautious about return ahead of Memorial

  • PGA Tour officials confirmed that the remainder of the 2019-2020 season would take place without fans

WASHINGTON: Tiger Woods admitted Tuesday that concern over the coronavirus delayed his return to the PGA Tour as he prepares to play his first event since February at this week's Memorial Tournament in Ohio.

The former world No. 1 has not played since appearing in the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles in February but will tee off at Muirfield on Thursday chasing a sixth victory in the Jack Nicklaus-hosted event.

The 44-year-old 15-time major winner said Tuesday he had contemplated returning to the tour earlier but had wanted to see how the first few events of the post-coronavirus shutdown fared before coming back.

"I just felt it was better to stay at home and be safe," Woods said Tuesday.

"I'm used to playing with lots of people around me or having lots of people have a direct line to me, and that puts not only myself in danger but my friends and family, and just been at home practicing and social distancing and being away from a lot of people.

"Coming back and playing the tour, in my case over the 20-some-odd years I've been out here, that's really hard to say, that I'm used to having so many people around me or even touch me, going from green to tee.

"That's something that I looked at and said, well, I'm really not quite comfortable with that, that whole idea."

Memorial organizers had initially planned to allow fans on the course at this week's tournament, but abandoned that idea as COVID-19 cases across the US began to skyrocket.

On Monday, PGA Tour officials confirmed that the remainder of the 2019-2020 season would take place without fans.

It means Woods will tee off on Thursday alongside world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka without the customary horde of spectators that usually follows him around a course.

"It's going to be different, there's no doubt about it," Woods said.

"For most of my career, pretty much almost every competitive playing round that I've been involved in, I've had people around me, spectators yelling, a lot of movement inside the gallery with camera crews and media."

Woods, who is making only his fourth tournament appearance of the season this week, said he has improved his health during the long layoff.

A stiff back hampered his performance at the Genesis in February, but Woods said he had not been troubled since.

"I feel so much better than I did then," Woods said.

"I've been able to train and concentrate on getting back up to speed and back up to tournament speed.

During Woods' layoff, the US was convulsed by nationwide protests against racism following the death of unarmed African-American man George Floyd during his arrest by police in Minneapolis on May 25.

Woods said he applauded efforts of Black Lives Matter activists to bring about change.

"I think change is fantastic as long as we make changes without hurting the innocent, and unfortunately that has happened. 

Hopefully it doesn't happen in the future, but a movement and change is fantastic," Woods said.

"That's how society develops. That's how we grow. That's how we move forward. That's how we have fairness."