American horses lead strong Saudi Cup field as runners announced

Tacitus, of Juddmonte Farms, is part of a strong American contingent including Brad Cox’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and Pegasus World Cup winner Knicks Go at this year's Saudi Cup. (AFP/File Photo)
Tacitus, of Juddmonte Farms, is part of a strong American contingent including Brad Cox’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and Pegasus World Cup winner Knicks Go at this year's Saudi Cup. (AFP/File Photo)
Short Url
Updated 05 February 2021

American horses lead strong Saudi Cup field as runners announced

Tacitus, of Juddmonte Farms, is part of a strong American contingent including Brad Cox’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and Pegasus World Cup winner Knicks Go at this year's Saudi Cup. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Two-day event at King Abdul Aziz Racecourse in Riyadh to be held Feb. 19, 20

RIYADH: With the Saudi Cup less than a fortnight away, the likely runners for the two-day $30.5 million event have been revealed.

The field will be led by a strong American contingent including Brad Cox’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and Pegasus World Cup winner Knicks Go.

The King Abdul Aziz Racecourse in Riyadh will host 77 overseas contenders representing 13 different countries from around the world who between them have won 24 Group or Grade 1 contests.

Also lining up in the Saudi capital from the US will be Grade 1 Malibu Stakes winner Charlatan, and Tacitus, who finished fifth in the inaugural race last year and is owned by Juddmonte Farms.

READ MORE: Returning trainers set sights on Saudi Cup’s $20 million prize

The highlight of the meeting, taking place on Feb. 19 and 20, will be the $20 million Saudi Cup, and the second staging of the world’s most valuable race looks set to feature another crop of international star names.

Ryuji Okubo’s impressive Grade 1 Champions Cup winner Chuwa Wizard (Japan) represents Japan, while John Gosden is likely to saddle Mishriff (Ireland) who was second in the Al Rajhi Bank Saudi Derby at this meeting 12 months ago.

“We were very excited when we saw the entry list for the second staging of the Saudi Cup and now we know the likely fields, we really are delighted,” said Tom Ryan, director of strategy and international racing for the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia.

“A battle between the likes of Knicks Go, Charlatan, Mishriff, and Chuwa Wizard in the Saudi Cup would be a huge thrill, while the strength and quality of all the other races has really stood up.”

A host of other top-class horses look likely to take their spots in Riyadh, with Freddy Head’s four-time Group 1 winner Call The Wind (Great Britain) seeking back-to-back victories in the $2.5 million Red Sea Turf Handicap, alongside last year’s third Prince Of Arran (Great Britain), trained by Charlie Fellowes.

Both the 1200m $1.5 million Saudia Riyadh Dirt Sprint and $1 million STC 1351 Turf Sprint have also attracted a host of well-regarded types.

Group 1 July Cup winner Oxted (UK), trained in the UK by Roger Teal, looks all set to run in the Saudia Riyadh Dirt Sprint, where he could take on Yoshito Yahagi’s Justin (Japan), the earner of an automatic spot in the race after winning the Grade 3 Capella Stakes in December.

The STC 1351 Turf Sprint is another race that has attracted a strong field, with last year’s winner Dark Power (Ireland), trained in Bahrain by Allan Smith, back to defend his crown. He will face a strong challenge again this time around with Charlie Appleby’s Space Blues (Ireland), the winner of his last four races, including most recently in the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest, as well as Joseph O’Brien’s Speak In Colors (Great Britain), both expected to line up.

READ MORE: Saudi Cup 2021 bookends year of global sporting turmoil with record $30.5m prize money up for grabs

Bill Mott’s Channel Maker (Canada), last seen finishing third to Tarnawa in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, is the likely star name in the 2100m $1 million Neom Turf Cup, a field which also includes Gronkowski (US), now trained by Abdul Aziz Khalid in Saudi Arabia.

The Purebred Arabian runners in the 2000m $2 million Obaiya Arabian Classic are headlined by the Group 1-winning Messi (Belgium), trained by Timo Keersmaekers in Belgium, who will clash with last year’s winner Tallaab Al-Khalediah (Saudi Arabia), trained locally by Mutlaq bin Mushref.

This year’s Saudi Cup meeting also sees the addition of a new race, the $500,000 Al Rajhi Bank International Handicap, which is specifically aimed at horses trained in IFHA Part II or Part III countries, and is run on Friday, Feb. 19 on STC International Jockeys’ Challenge day.

There are horses entered from six different countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Spain, the Czech Republic, and Greece.

“The entire team are working incredibly hard to deliver a world-class event where the health and safety of all participants is paramount,” Ryan said.

“It has obviously been a difficult year for everyone, and we are glad that we are able to put on this meeting for racing fans all over the world to enjoy.”


Jailed former paralympic athlete Pistorius moved closer to victim’s family

Jailed former paralympic athlete Pistorius moved closer to victim’s family
Updated 02 December 2021

Jailed former paralympic athlete Pistorius moved closer to victim’s family

Jailed former paralympic athlete Pistorius moved closer to victim’s family
  • Pistorius went from public hero to convicted murderer in a trial that drew worldwide interest
  • He is set to speak to Steenkamp's parents in a process known as victim-offender dialogue

CAPE TOWN: Former South Africa paralympic superstar, Oscar Pistorius, jailed in 2016 for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, has been moved closer to her family ahead of reconciliation talks that could help pave the way for his early release from prison.
Pistorius, known as “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fiber prosthetic legs, went from public hero to convicted murderer in a trial that drew worldwide interest. He becomes eligible for parole after serving half of his 13-year sentence.
Pistorius is set to speak to Steenkamp’s parents, June and Barry Steenkamp, in a process known as victim-offender dialogue — an integral part of South Africa’s restorative justice program in its prison system that brings parties affected by a particular crime together in a bid to achieve closure.
“They are participating in the process because they have committed themselves to being part of the victim-offender dialogue. They feel they have to do this for Reeva,” Tania Koen, lawyer for the Steenkamps, said of the family.
Pistorius’ lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Gold medalist Pistorius, once the darling of the Paralympic movement for pushing for greater recognition and acceptance of disabled athletes, shot dead Steenkamp, a model and law student, in his bathroom in 2013.
Pistorius said he had believed she was an intruder but was jailed in 2016, initially for a six-year term. After an appeal by prosecutors who said this was too lenient the term was increased to 13 years.
He has now been moved from a prison near Johannesburg to one on South Africa’s east coast, near where Steenkamp’s parents live.
Neither their lawyer Koen nor Singabakho Nxumalo, a spokesman for the department of correctional services, could provide Reuters with a timeline for the discussions.
“It is very sensitive process, highly emotional... and we do not force people to participate in it,” Nxumalo said.
“But we are saying at least it does lay a foundation where people can, if possible, forgive each other, find one another and then try to move forward in harmony,” he said.


Covid hits Williams F1 team ahead of Saudi Grand Prix

Covid hits Williams F1 team ahead of Saudi Grand Prix
Updated 02 December 2021

Covid hits Williams F1 team ahead of Saudi Grand Prix

Covid hits Williams F1 team ahead of Saudi Grand Prix
  • Team Principal Jost Capito tests positive for Covid before traveling to Jeddah, Williams ‘team will continue to operate trackside as planned’
  • Still mourning the loss of founder Frank Williams, the team goes to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit having garnered 23 points so far this season

PARIS: Williams’ Team Principal Jost Capito has tested positive for Covid before traveling to Jeddah for this weekend’s Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, the British Formula One outfit announced Thursday.
“Jost is now following UK national health authority guidelines,” the team said in a statement. “There has been no wider impact on Williams Racing personnel and the team will continue to operate trackside as planned.”
Still mourning the loss of founder Frank Williams, the team goes to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit having garnered just 23 points so far this season.
The penultimate round of the 2021 World Championship season sees Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton of Britain clinging to the tail of Dutch championship leader Max Verstappen of Red Bull with just eight points separating the pair.


Eriksen uses Danish training field as part of rehabilitation

Eriksen uses Danish training field as part of rehabilitation
Updated 02 December 2021

Eriksen uses Danish training field as part of rehabilitation

Eriksen uses Danish training field as part of rehabilitation
  • The 29-year-old midfielder is using a field at Odense Boldklub
  • Eriksen has not played since falling face-first onto the field during Denmark’s opening match

COPENHAGEN, Denmark: Christian Eriksen has resumed training in Denmark as part of his rehabilitation after suffering a cardiac arrest at the European Championship.
The 29-year-old midfielder is using a field at Odense Boldklub, the club where he started his career before playing for Ajax, Tottenham and most recently Inter Milan before collapsing while playing for Denmark in June.
“Christian Eriksen is using our pitch to rehabilitate,” Odense Boldklub told The Associated Press on Thursday. “He asked us if he could use our pitch to train, which we approved.”
Eriksen is not practicing with the squad of the top-division Superliga club, located 170 kilometers (105 miles) west of Copenhagen, it said.
Eriksen has not played since falling face-first onto the field during Denmark’s opening match at the European Championship against Finland on June 12. His teammates formed a protective wall around him as medical workers resuscitated him with a defibrillator.
Eriksen spent a week in the hospital, where he had a type of pacemaker fitted. Depending on the cause of the cardiac arrest and the nature of his treatment, he could be prohibited from playing in Italy with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator but could continue his career in countries where the rules are different.
There is no indication when Eriksen could resume playing. He remains under contract at Inter Milan. He’s made 109 appearances for Denmark.


ICC slices up events cake as dates and locations for next cycle of short-format men’s tournaments are announced

ICC slices up events cake as dates and locations for next cycle of short-format men’s tournaments are announced
Updated 02 December 2021

ICC slices up events cake as dates and locations for next cycle of short-format men’s tournaments are announced

ICC slices up events cake as dates and locations for next cycle of short-format men’s tournaments are announced
  • With cricket’s image increasingly tarnished in recent times, the ICC’s close-knit venue selection methods would benefit from greater transparency

No sooner had Australia’s name been etched on the T20 Men’s trophy on Nov. 14 than the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced the host venues for the next cycle of short-format men’s tournaments.

Venues for women’s tournaments are awaited.

The men’s cycle, running between 2024 and 2031, comprises 50-over One-Day International (ODI) World Cups, expanded to 14 teams; Twenty20 World Cups, expanded to 20 teams; and Champions Trophy competitions. The venues are summarised below and reveal some intriguing results.

First, the allocation of the 2024 T20 World Cup to a combination of the West Indies and the USA represents a boost for both the ailing finances in the Caribbean and the ambitions to expand the game in the US, where the ICC hopes cricket will feature in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

Secondly, India has been granted three of the eight men’s tournaments. Although two of them are co-hosted, respectively, with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, the award of these hostings, when added to India’s sole hosting of the 2023 ODI tournament in October/November 2023, provides further proof, if it was ever required, of India’s influence in world cricket.

Year ICC Event (Men) Host(s) * Full Members
2024 T20 World Cup USA, West Indies*
2025 Champions Trophy Pakistan*
2026 T20 World Cup India*, Sri Lanka*
2027 ODI World Cup South Africa*, Zimbabwe*, Namibia
2028 T20 World Cup Australia*, New Zealand*
2029 Champions Trophy India
2030 T20 World Cup England*, Ireland*, Scotland
2031 ODI World Cup India, Bangladesh*

 

Thirdly, England has only one hosting, with that being shared with Scotland and Ireland. This distant event in 2030 will mean an interval of eleven years between England’s last major hosting, that of the ODI World Cup in 2019. Some may interpret this as a loss of influence.

 

Fourthly, Pakistan has been selected to host the 2025 Champions Trophy. This 50-over tournament between the top eight ranked teams has been re-instated. It will be Pakistan’s first ICC tournament since 1996 and will be a boon for its enthusiastic fans, who were denied the opportunity to watch international cricket at home this year when both New Zealand and England abandoned their visits.

Fifthly, reflecting its recent achievements in reaching the Super12 Stage of the 2021 T20 World Cup, Namibia will co-host the 2027 ODI World Cup with South Africa and Zimbabwe.

In its official announcement of the venues, the ICC stated that this was the first time that a competitive bidding process had been adopted for ICC events and that 14 members hosting eight events reflected the global nature of the sport.

Closer inspection suggests that a more tortuous process had been followed. The decision to introduce a bidding mechanism had been made at an ICC meeting in October 2019. It reflected the ICC’s aim to make the game more global, by opening the opportunity for any member – full or associate - to bid to host ICC events. In the previous eight-year cycle, all major men’s events had been allocated to the “big three,” Australia, England and India, so the bidding process represented a shift in philosophy.

This did not sit well with the big three. India, in particular, was concerned that cricket, especially Tests, played between two countries, would suffer. It appeared to regard re-instating the Champions Trophy as unnecessary. In February 2020, to India’s apparent annoyance, the ICC emailed all members asking them to tender their expressions of interest for hosting any of the 20 global events in men’s and women’s cricket between 2024-31 by March 15, 2020.

Once these had been received, the ICC planned to use the choices to shape the timing and location of the events in the cycle. Then a formal Request for Proposal process would be opened for six months. A host of eligibility criteria was drawn up, including the required infrastructure to stage the events, the current cricketing eco-system in the market, the growth potential and development of infrastructure in place, along with guarantees placed in relation to visas, tax exemptions, customs and security.

The onset of the pandemic caused a hiatus in the process, which resumed in February this year, followed by an announcement in early June, specifying that the ICC Board would select the event hosts, rather than through an open bidding process. The change in tack seemed to turn on an argument that only a few, probably referring to three, members had the necessary infrastructure and skillsets to host the largest events. It may also reflect changes in senior personnel in both the ICC and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

By July, 17 member nations had expressed interest, with the 10 full members submitting preliminary technical proposals. The second stage of the process would involve more detailed proposals which allow the board to make final decisions.

It delegated the overseeing of host venue selection to a three-man sub-committee. This comprised three members of the main ICC Board — the chair from New Zealand, the president of Cricket West Indies and the BCCI president, who became chair of the ICC Men’s Cricket Committee this November.

It is not clear how the members of this committee were chosen, nor is it clear what the criteria were for the final selection of hosts. The results clearly benefit India but not so much the other two of the big three. The ICC has achieved a wider global spread of events in line with its strategy. This is likely to be further enhanced once it completes a similar process and announces, in early 2022, the hosts for the women’s and Under 19’s events in the next cycle.

At present, cricket’s image is tarnished, its conduct under scrutiny. In the UK, this is for its racism scandal. Cricket Australia is in the dock for an alleged lack of probity relating to its handling of captaincy appointments. The BCCI has long been accused of wielding too much power within the game.

In this environment, the ICC’s close-knit venue selection methods would benefit from greater transparency.


Racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart: Saudis have done amazing job on Jeddah Corniche Circuit

Racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart: Saudis have done amazing job on Jeddah Corniche Circuit
Updated 02 December 2021

Racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart: Saudis have done amazing job on Jeddah Corniche Circuit

Racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart: Saudis have done amazing job on Jeddah Corniche Circuit

JEDDAH: Three-time Formula One champion Sir Jackie Stewart has come out to praise the “amazing job” done by Saudi Arabia in completing the construction of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, the venue for the highly-anticipated Saudi Grand Prix from Dec. 3 to 5.

The British former F1 driver from Scotland — nicknamed the “Flying Scot” — spoke to Arab News during the special reception held in the gardens of the British Consulate in Jeddah to celebrate the inaugural Saudi Grand Prix.

“It is wonderful to have the Grand Prix in the country and it is going to be an international success,” he said. 

On his second visit to Saudi Arabia, Sir Jackie described the transformation taking place in the Kingdom as bold and visionary: “The last time I was here (was) almost nine years ago, but it seems this time a lot of things have changed in Saudi Arabia and I see a very developed country which has a good future and it is obvious.”

He continued: “I think Saudi Arabia succeeded in hosting F1 and this will attract the world to see more of Saudi Arabia.”

He said the Jeddah circuit was amazing when you consider the timescale in which the track has been put together.

“On Tuesday, I had the chance to drive on it and it is a great track. It has a nice flow to it, a wide variety of corners, and is really good to drive. I don’t think I’ve ever driven on such a fast circuit before with so many high-speed corners, so I think it will be quite a challenge for drivers this weekend.”

He added: “I enjoyed my first real taste of the new circuit, I think F1 track designer Carsten Tilke has done a great job.”

The 82-year-old managed to claim three F1 World Championships between 1969 and 1973, with 99 race starts before he retired in 1973, aged just 34.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s big race, the racing legend pointed out that the fight for the Drivers’ World Championship remains close between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.

“To be first, you first have to cross the finish line first, it is going to be a tough challenge between Hamilton and Verstappen and we all look forward for the race.”