Halfway report as Frankie Dettori wins, Bahraini horses dominate on Saudi Cup day

Frankie Dettori celebrates after winning the The stc 1351 Cup on Dark Power in Riyadh at the Saudi Cup meeting. (Reuters)
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Updated 29 February 2020

Halfway report as Frankie Dettori wins, Bahraini horses dominate on Saudi Cup day

RIYADH: The first ever Saudi Cup at King Abdul Aziz Racetrack in Riyadh reached the half-way mark with the action in the first four races perfectly setting the tone ahead of what promises to be a spectacular $20 million showpiece finale.The historic day got under way at 4pm with the Mohamed Yousuf Naghi Motors Cup 2,100m (1mile 2 and 1/2 furlongs) turf run, with Port Lions of Bahrain, ridden by Adrie De Vries, making a late charge 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 becomes the first ever horse to win a turf race on Saudi Cup day.
“It feels absolutely amazing to win the first turf race here in Saudi Arabia,” Nass said. “Of course, we came here with some hope but to actually accomplish that is amazing. He missed the break quite badly, which didn’t help but obviously we know he’s got a very nice turn of foot. I wasn’t sure if he could do that from so far back off a slow pace but obviously he managed. He has just improved and improved. 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 being underestimated by many, his camp had confidence he’d come good.
“We almost hit the front too soon,” De Vries said. “It’s just amazing for the connections. 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.”
=The second race of the day, The stc 1351 Cup over 6 and 3/4 furlongs saw Frankie Dettori storm home on Dark Power to just edge ahead of Godolphin’s Mubtasim and Glorious Journey. It was second consecutive win for Bahrain, the glory this time going to Sheikh Issa bin Salman Al Khalifa and Al Adiyat Racing, who pocket the $600,000 winner’s prize.
The highly-anticipated Longines Turf Handicap, the last of the day’s turf races, once again provided an unlikely winner, Olivier Peslier riding Call The Wind to victory for trainer Freddy Head.
Mekong and Price of Arran finished in second and third.
“It showed how good he is,” Head said of winning horse Call The Wind. “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 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, I mean it’s history.”
The day’s fourth race, The Obaiya Arabian Classic, marked the halfway point of the day and it proved an exciting race for the fans of purebred Arabian in the crowd as Tallaab Al Khalediah stormed the 2,000m (1mile and 2 furlongs) on dirt to win ahead of Hajjres and Mashhur Al Khalediah.

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."