Mike Smith wins Jockey Challenge, as female riders make history ahead of Saudi Cup extravaganza

The second Jockeys Challenge, and fourth race of the day, followed shortly afterwards with Mike Smith on Sun Hat leaving the rest of the field in his dust to claim an easy 15 points. (AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 29 February 2020

Mike Smith wins Jockey Challenge, as female riders make history ahead of Saudi Cup extravaganza

  • Smith also praised the dirt course ahead of the Saudi Cup the following day

RIYADH: The International Jockeys Challenge proved the perfect curtain raiser to the Saudi Cup as eight races brought some of the world’s best female and male riders to the King Abdulaziz Racetrack for the first time.
On a fine sunny day in Riyadh, the action started at 3.20pm with 1400m (7f) Saudi Bred Maiden, which was won by Etsaam, ridden by Aldaham. Abu Thamer came second with Dayaan third.
The second race of the day, the Equestrian Club Award, saw Saodad, ridden by Irad Ortiz, come home ahead of second place Ibtahej, and Rabiae Blaady.
But it was the the first International Jockeys Challenge of the day that got the swelling crowd going. Run over 1400m (7f), it saw Lisa Allpress, riding Matmon, storm to a win and create history as the first female winner in Saudi Arabia.
“I honestly came here with a very open mind,” Allpress said. “We’ve been very looked after…like I said I had no expectations. I decided to come out with open mind and just enjoy it.”
The win saw her take the early lead of Jockey’s Challenge with 15 points while Olivier Pesilier on Motayammen came in second with Sibylle Vogt on Dolma in third . Crowd favorite Frankie Dettorie, on Moshaghebah, came fifth, behind A Alfouraidi in fourth.
The second Jockeys Challenge, and fourth race of the day, followed shortly afterwards with Mike Smith on Sun Hat leaving the rest of the field in his dust to claim an easy 15 points. Mickaelle Michel on Seif Alsharq came second with Vogt on Laurence in third.
“Really loved this dirt course, I hoping that America takes look at it, it’s a really nice course,” Smith said after the race. “I was blessed to come here many, many years ago at the old track, so I hadn’t been back since. To get started for the big day tomorrow, it’s good way to get started.”
The Equestrian Club Award, Saudi-bred fillies was won by Jennifer, giving jockey Alfouraidi his second win of the day. Shadawah and Qaatefah came in second and throw respectively.
The Jockeys Challenge was hotting up and a familiar name was about to make a break from the rest of field in the sixth race of the day.
The third Jockeys Challenge saw Smith win again, this time riding Paris, to lead the table with a maximum of 30 points. Yutaka Take came second on Makhbour and Camilo Ospina third on Walad Almeterfah.
The fourth and final Jockeys Challenge race of the day went to Vogt, riding, Sabeq’hom, followed by Emma-Jane Wilson on Alshatherwan in second and Frankie Dettori on Sha’erah in third. The results meant that Smith, who came in fifth, won the overall challenge with 33 points.
“It was fun way to start with the International Jockeys Challenge,” Smith said. “The first time that women given the opportunity to ride here and they proved that they belong here, they’re brilliant riders.
Smith also praised the dirt course ahead of the Saudi Cup the following day.
“It’s probably one of the best dirt courses I’ve ever been on, and I’m not just saying that,” he added. “I’m telling you, America should take a page out of you book and do something like this.
Vogt couldn’t hide her delight at claiming her 97th career win, especially as it meant beating a very special opponent.
“My idol is Frankie Dettori and I’m so happy he was behind me,” she said.
In the day’s final race, Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman Universty Prize, Angel Moreno finished victorious on AlHajjrafee in a very tight race with Mohammed Alnefzi on Heloo Algharam and Morales and Yeshrah Albaal breathing down his neck.


English Premier League to restart on June 17

Updated 28 May 2020

English Premier League to restart on June 17

  • No matches have been played since Leicester’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa on March 9

LONDON: The Premier League season is set to restart on June 17, three months after it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, British media reported on Thursday.

No matches have been played since Leicester's 4-0 win over Aston Villa on March 9, with Liverpool just two wins away from securing the title.

Top-flight clubs voted unanimously on Wednesday to return to contact training and were meeting again on Thursday to discuss issues such as the restart date and the rebate to broadcasters.

Matches would have to be played behind closed doors, much like they have been in Germany's Bundesliga since it restarted earlier in May.

The BBC reported that the first two matches would be Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal. Those matches are the two games in hand.

A full fixture list would then be played on the weekend of June 19-21.

So far, 12 people have tested positive for coronavirus after 2,752 tests across the Premier League.

La Liga in Spain hopes to return from June 11, while a crucial summit between Italian football officials and the country's sports minister will be held later on Thursday.

Liverpool were 25 points clear of 2019 champions Manchester City when the Premier league was shut down, on the verge of being crowned English champions for the first time in 30 years.

Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich City are in the relegation places.

The BBC will for the first time air free-of-charge Premier League soccer games live when the season restarts next month, the broadcaster said on Thursday.

"This opportunity creates an historic moment for the BBC and our audiences. At a time when sports fans across the country are in need of lift, this is very welcome news," Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, said.