Maximum Security wins Saudi Cup on historic day of racing in Riyadh

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Maximum Security wins the inaugural Saudi Cup at the King Abdul Aziz Racetrack in Riyadh. (Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Doug DeFelice)
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Call the Wind wins the Longines Turf Handicap, with Olivier Peslier on board. (Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Doug DeFelice)
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A big win for Japanese racing, as Full Flat wins the Saudi Derby with Yutaka Take in the saddle. (AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)
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It was an exciting race in the Obaiya Arabian Classic as Tallaab Al Khalediah stormed the 2,000m (1 mile 2 furlongs) on the dirt track. (AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Omsiyaatee took The Jockey Club Cup Handicap, ridden by Adel Alfouradi who was the champion jockey at the King Abdul Aziz Racetrack last year. (AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Dark Power wins The stc 1351 Cup - the second Bahrain-owned winner of the day - with Frankie Dettori on board. (AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Port Lions wins the Mohamed Yousuf Naghi Motors Cup, the first ever turf race run in Saudi Arabia, ridden by A De Vries in the first race of the day. (AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 02 March 2020

Maximum Security wins Saudi Cup on historic day of racing in Riyadh

  • A historic day for horse racing in Saudi Arabia
  • Meeting ended with world's richest race, the $20 million Saudi Cup

RIYADH: Maximum Security made history on Saturday in front of King Salman as the first winner of the Saudi Cup, claiming the winning prize of $10 million in the world’s richest horse race.

At King Abdul Aziz Racetrack in Riyadh, Luis Saez rode the Jason Servis-trained four-year-old to a victory many had predicted, leaving Midnight Bisou in second to collect $3.5 million, while Godolphin’s Benbatl walked away with $2 million in third.

“We did it,” the jockey said. “It was tough, when we broke from the gate it was very tough. For a second I thought we were going to get beat. But it is horse with big heart.”

“I’m so happy, this is amazing” Saez said.

The penultimate race, the Saudia Sprint (1,200m), had set a high bar to beat with one of the day’s most dramatic finishes.

Just as it seemed that Yutaka Take on Matera Sky was set for a comfortable win, Irad Ortiz stormed home on the Faisal bin Khaled bin Abdul Aziz-owned New York Central in sensational fashion to grab the $900,000 winning purse. Gladiator King finished third.

The winning moment for Maximum Security as he crosses the line first at the King Abdul Aziz Racetrack in Riyadh on Saturday on a historic day for horse racing in Saudi Arabia. (Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Doug DeFelice) 

A historic day of racing got under way at 4 p.m. with the Mohammed Yousuf Naghi Motors Cup 2,100m turf run, with Port Lions of Bahrain, ridden by Adrie De Vries, making a late charge from the back to claim victory just ahead of Deirdre in second and For The Top in third.

The Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa owned, Fawzi Nass-trained horse from Victorious Racing became the first horse to win a turf race on Saudi Cup day, taking home the $600,000 top prize.

 “Of course, we came here with some hope but to actually accomplish that is amazing,” Nass said.

“He [Port Lions] has just improved and improved,” the trainer said.

“He’s a proper fast ground horse and has done very well since he came to Bahrain.”

The winning jockey called the win “fantastic” and revealed that though Port Lions was underestimated by many, his camp had confidence he’d come good.

“We almost hit the front too soon,” De Vries said. “The track is beautiful. I can’t believe in such a short time they were able to make it; it was a dream to ride on. It feels amazing to win. I knew we would run well but I wasn’t sure if we could beat the Japanese filly. It is just a great feeling.”

In the second race of the day, the STC 1351 Cup over 6 and 3/4 furlongs, Frankie Dettori stormed home on Dark Power, just ahead of Godolphin’s Mubtasim and Glorious Journey. It was a second consecutive win for Bahrain, the glory this time going to Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al-Khalifa and Al-Adiyat Racing, which pocketed the $600,000 winner’s prize.

“Sheikh Isa is a friend of mine,” Dettori said.

Racing fans got a taste of the excitement they can expect from the world’s richest horse race, the Saudi Cup at King Abdul Aziz Racetrack in Riyadh on February 29.2020. (AN Photo/Basheer Alzain Saleh)

“I’ve been going to Bahrain for the last five years and I took the ride a month ago. I didn’t know what to expect to be honest with you, but this is an amazing feeling. To win a race like this for your mates is a double-whammy. What they’ve done in the space of two months (with this turf course) is remarkable.”

The highly anticipated Longines Turf Handicap, worth $2.5 million, was the last of the day’s turf races. Once again it provided an unlikely winner, Olivier Peslier on Call The Wind coming from sixth with 600 meters to go to win by two-and-half lengths.

Mekong and Prince of Arran finished in second and third.

“It showed how good he is,” winning trainer Freddy Head said of his horse. “He was able to quicken on that ground, I wasn’t sure he would do that. I know that horse is not easy, he’s not an easy horse to ride. From going well, then he’s got nothing then he goes well. He’s bit of a lazy, lazy horse, but Olivier gave him a great, great ride.”

“It’s great moment,” he added. “As a trainer you dream of winning races like that, it’s history.”

The day’s fourth race, the $1.9 million Obaiya Arabian Classic, marked the halfway point of the day and it proved an exciting race for the fans of purebred Arabian racing in the crowd as Tallaab Al-Khalediah stormed the 2,000m (1 mile and 2 furlongs) on dirt to win ahead of Hajjres and Mashhur Al-Khalediah.

After the Maghreb prayers, the action restarted with another purebred Arabian affair, the Jockey Club Local Handicap over 1,800m (9 furlongs). The $300,000 top prize went to Omsiyaatee, ridden by Adel Alfouradi and trained by Gaith Alghaith, with Be Azn Allah and Alnajim Albaaher coming in second and third respectively.

“I’m very proud of the performance and the event here at King Abdul Aziz racetrack,” Algaith said. “I had high hopes, but the field was very strong with some of the strongest horses in the Kingdom.”

The Samba Saudi Derby brought Japan a first win as Yutaka Take rode Full Flat to victory over 1,600m (1 mile), beating Prince Abdulrhman bin Abdullah Al-Faisal’s Mishrif and Godolphin’s Final Song.

“I know the horse was in a very good condition, last year he ran in America and was very good, I’m very pleased,” the winning jockey said.

“It means a lot to me, this is the biggest event in the world and it’s a pleasure to win the race.”




Relive all of Arab News' coverage below...(all times GMT)


18:45 - Well, there you have it! That brings an end to the very first Saudi Cup. What a race it was! We hope you enjoyed the coverage.


The four-year-old beats Midnight Bisou at the King Abdulaziz racecourse, with jockey Luis Saez on board.

Saez said: "He broke so well. When he breaks he doesn't pick up the bridle like he used to but when he came into the straight he wanted to win so badly and he fought. This is for America and for my people."

Winning trainer Jason Servis added: "I can't believe it, it's going to take about a week for it to set in."

17:20 - So, we're 30 minutes away from the race we've all been waiting for... Arab News has spoken to people involved with three of the runners. Which horse is your prediction for the winner of the Saudi Cup?

READ MORE: Jewel in Kingdom’s sporting crown Juddmonte Farms eyeing Saudi Cup glory

Saudi Cup ‘double or nothing’ with two horses in $20m race for leading agent Ted Voute

17:00 - Nearly back-to-back wins for Yutaka Take, but he was pipped by a short head by New York Central in a thrilling Saudia Sprint! That was the penultimate race before the big one...

16:30 - RESULT - A big win for Japanese racing, as Full Flat wins the Saudi Derby with Yutaka Take in the saddle - $800,000 was the prize pool for that one. Nothing on the $1.5 million in the next race. Or the cool $20 million on offer in the Saudi Cup later this afternoon...

16:00 - RESULTS: As promised, we've got the results of the two local races for you now...

It was an exciting race in the Obaiya Arabian Classic as Tallaab Al Khalediah stormed the 2,000m (1 mile 2 furlongs) on the dirt track to win ahead of Hajjres and Mashhur Al Khalediah, even prompting Dubai Racing TV's Laura King to remark on the horse's pace...

And it was Omsiyaatee which took The Jockey Club Cup Handicap, ridden by Adel Alfouradi who was the champion jockey at the King Abdul Aziz Racetrack last year...

15:40 - We've got a halfway report for you all now, written by our man on the ground Ali Khaled - who has kindly summarised the first four races for you all in a quick five-minute read story here...

15:20 - More on the Saudi Cup fashion - what to do if you've forgotten a hat for the races? Perhaps Evelyn McDermott can help...

Arab News caught up with Evelyn McDermott, founder of the Evelyn McDermott Millinery, which was the exclusive milliner for the Saudi Cup and had a dedicated booth for those who wanted to pick up a last-minute headpiece...

READ MORE: A day at the races: Stylish guests wow at the Saudi Cup

14:50 - We have two races coming up, the first being the Obaiya Arabian Classic for purebred Arabians and the second being the Jockey Club Local Handicap - we'll bring you those results after the Maghreb prayer break.

We also have some jockey changes to announce, from the Saudi Cup organizers...

14:20 - RESULT - And it's Call the Wind that wins the Longines Turf Handicap, with Olivier Peslier on board, in the longest race of the day (1 mile 7 furlongs - 3,000m) and the final turf running of the day. (AN Photos/Huda Bashatah)

13:55 - Stop the press - we think we've found the best outfit of the day... this American fan who "rose" to the occasion is definitely leading the way in the fashion stakes...

We also spoke to fans who are familiar with Dubai's Meydan racetrack, and they were full of praise for the King Abdul Aziz Racetrack here in Riyadh...

And these ladies were very impressed with the international nature of the Saudi Cup...

13:45 - RESULT - It's another shock victory as Dark Power wins The stc 1351 Cup - the second Bahrain-owned winner of the day! And Riyadh has even been treated to the trademark Frankie Dettori victory jump...

13:20 - More of the fashion on show at the King Abdul Aziz Racetrack today...

13:05 - RESULT - Port Lions wins the Mohamed Yousuf Naghi Motors Cup, the first ever turf race run in Saudi Arabia, ridden by A De Vries in the first race of the day - bit of a shock there, as Deirdre was the heavily-fancied horse before the off! (AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)


12:30 - We're 30 minutes away from the off in the first race of the day - here's a look at the Grandstand and the hospitality enclosure at Riyadh's King Abdul Aziz Racetrack. And some of the high fashion stakes on show as well...

11:50 - Fans treated to one of the many displays of Saudi culture that will be on show throughout the day...

11:30 - More happy Arab News readers with their copies of the special Saudi Cup souvenir edition of the newspaper...(AN Photos/Huda Bashatah)

11:10 - A fantastic video from the Saudi Cup official Twitter page shows jockey Yutake Take on board his mount in one of the Jockeys Challenge races on Friday!

10:45 - Here's your race card for today's racing (including the breaks for prayer) - the action starts at 4:00pm KSA time (1:00pm GMT) and the big one is scheduled to start at 8:40pm local time (5:40pm GMT)...

10:30 - As we wait for the fans to file in ahead of the first race of the day at 4:00pm Saudi time, check out a gallery by Arab News' Basheer Alzain Saleh and Huda Bashatah of yesterday's Kingdom Day...

GALLERY: Kingdom Day meeting, Saudi Cup in Riyadh

09:50 - Yesterday saw a host of male and female jockeys get a feel for the tracks at King Abdul Aziz Racetrack in the Jockeys Challenge races (read a report here) - but it was also a chance for the fans to get a feel for all the activities available away from the racing for the whole family at the track...(AN Photos/Huda Bashatah)

09:30 - We've got the latest turf track update - and the official Saudi Cup feed are saying today's going is Good to Firm on that immaculate-looking stretch of grass. It's an exciting day for Saudi racing fans as some fantastic horses will be running on the turf and dirt tracks today...

09:15 - Don't forget, you can read Arab News' coverage of the formation of the event and the build-up to today's historic race - as well as an account of yesterday's action on Kingdom Day - in our dedicated spotlight here...

09:00 - The gates have opened and we're officially kicking off the day's coverage!



Tokyo to skip one-year Olympic countdown over coronavirus: organizers

Updated 05 June 2020

Tokyo to skip one-year Olympic countdown over coronavirus: organizers

  • Games pushed back until July 23, 2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak

TOKYO: Tokyo will scrap events marking a year to go until the postponed 2020 Olympic Games, organizers said Friday, citing the “current economic situation” caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Games have been pushed back until July 23, 2021 because of the disease outbreak, though it remains unclear whether even that delay will be sufficient.
Last year, the city and organizers held a series of events to mark the one-year countdown, including unveiling the newly designed medals.
But given the global crisis, organizers ruled out a similar celebration.
“In view of the current economic situation, Tokyo 2020 will not be holding any events to mark the new one year to go milestone for the Games,” the organizers said.
“But we will consider what we can do to show our solidarity with the people.”
The confirmation came after reports in the Japanese media that organizers would scrap the event, fearing it was inappropriate given the global pandemic and the ongoing risk of infection inside Japan.
Kyodo News agency reported that posters and messages of encouragement to athletes might be put up and displayed online instead, adding that the organizing committee felt a more “moderate tone” was appropriate.
A nationwide state of emergency over the virus has been lifted in Japan, but a recent rise in cases in Tokyo has led to fears of a second wave.
The latest reports come after Tokyo’s governor confirmed the city and organizers are looking at ways to scale back next year’s Games.
Japanese media said streamlining plans could involve cutting the number of spectators and reducing participation in the opening and closing ceremonies.
The Yomiuri Shimbun daily quoted an unnamed source as saying that everyone including athletes, officials and spectators would be required to take a test for the virus.
Tokyo 2020 declined to comment on those reports, saying discussions about coronavirus countermeasures would be held “from this autumn onwards.”
Organizers and Tokyo officials face the twin headaches of ensuring the postponed Games can be held safely, given the pandemic, and keeping additional costs to a minimum.
But with the pandemic continuing to rage in much of the world, it remains unclear whether the Games can be held next year.
On Friday, a member of the organizing committee’s executive board said a decision on whether the Games could be held or not would need to be taken in spring.
“I think we need to decide around March next year,” Toshiaki Endo, a former Olympic minister told reporters, denying speculation that the IOC intends to make a decision in October.
IOC chief Thomas Bach said last month that 2021 was the “last option” for holding the Tokyo Games, stressing that postponement cannot go on forever.
He declined to say whether a vaccine was a prerequisite for going ahead with the Olympics, but was lukewarm on the idea of holding them behind closed doors.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said it would be “difficult” to hold the postponed Tokyo Olympics if the coronavirus pandemic is not contained.
And Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori has said the Olympics would have to be canceled if the disease isn’t under control by next year.