LONDON: Racing returns to Saudi Arabia next week with an expanded season of 48 meetings at King Khalid Racecourse in Taif, double the number of fixtures staged in 2021.
The season will run from June 16 to Oct. 8.
In total 384 races will take place — up from the previous 190 — and several valuable new contests have been added to the calendar, including the $260,000 Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Cup, which will be run alongside the feature races of the Taif season, the King Faisal Cup and Taif Cup on Saturday, Sept. 3.
The new National Day Cup meeting on Sept. 22 will also feature the Taif Derby, Taif Sprint Cup and Taif Arabian Horses Derby, each worth more than $100,000.
Several existing races have received major prize fund boosts, and the winner of the Taif Cup for two-year-olds will receive double last year’s figure, at over $100,000, while the three-year-old version will now be worth $130,000 as well as the Okaz Cup, which has increased from $130,000 to $185,000.
Taif is situated at a higher altitude and is closer to the coast than Riyadh, which makes it cooler and able to host racing throughout the summer months.
Several trainers from other GCC countries are expected to bring their horses to Taif this season, with support expected from regional neighbors Bahrain and the UAE.
“Our expansion of the Taif racing season at King Khalid Racecourse in 2022 signifies our continued investment in racing in Saudi Arabia and our eagerness to see the sport flourish and to engage new audiences,” Salem Binmahfooz, director of racing at the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, said.
“The significant increase in racing and prize money will help to attract some of the best horses in Saudi Arabia as well as the wider region to race at this unique course over the coming months.
“We hope that the JCSA’s continued support will further strengthen the roots of Saudi racing to continue the fine progress that has already been made,” he added.