RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has been promoted from a Part III to Part II racing country in the International Cataloguing Standards Book by the International Grading and Race Planning Advisory Committee.
At the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities’ executive council meeting in Paris on Monday, it was also agreed that six races in the Kingdom would be promoted to international group status in Part 1 (under the other races section).
The Saudi Cup, this year won by Mishriff, becomes a Group 1 in only its third year, while all five races on The Saudi Cup undercard achieve Group 3 status.
The Obaiya Arabian Classic, a contest for purebred Arabians, was upgraded to listed status before the Saudi Cup 2021 by the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing.
Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al-Faisal, chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, highlighted the importance of the step in the country’s horseracing history.
He said: “Saudi Arabia’s advancement as a racing nation from Part III on the IFHA list to Part II is a pivotal moment in our racing history and the halfway mark in our ambition to become a Part I racing jurisdiction.
“We know we could not have made this significant advancement without the support of global racing, and we hope we are able to repay this faith in us by continuing to grow our offering internationally while improving our domestic industry.
“This is also the first season that The Saudi Cup will be run as a Group 1 while the undercard races on Saudi Cup day will be run as Group 3 contests with the Obaiya Arabian Classic remaining at listed status.
“This exciting news means that The Saudi Cup is Saudi Arabia’s first international Group 1, and we are very proud of this major step in our history,” the prince added.
Organized by the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia and run at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh, The Saudi Cup is a two-day festival of international racing headlined by the $20 million Saudi Cup – the world’s most valuable race.
Established in 2020 with the third renewal set to be run on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, The Saudi Cup day card carries a total prize purse of $30.5 million and features dirt and turf races for the highest caliber of racehorses in the world.
A full card of racing on the preceding Friday will include an International Jockeys Challenge which will see seven female and seven male jockeys compete as individuals, as well as the $500,000 Saudi International Handicap for horses trained in IFHA-registered Part II and Part III racing countries.