RIYADH: One of Saudi Arabia’s domestic equestrian competitions has been given an international listed status by the body that oversees thoroughbred racing globally, the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday.
The Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques Cup, a major contest on the Kingdom’s racing calendar, represents the JCSA’s second internationally classified race — the other being the Saudi Cup.
The International Federation of Horse Racing’s newly upgraded competition has earned an average rating of 102.17 over the past three years.
Prince Bandar Bin Khalid Al-Faisal, chairman of the JCSA, said: “The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia continues to develop its capabilities and capacity to service a growing racing industry within the Kingdom. Contributing positively at a regional and wider international level remains a key priority for us, and our continued forward momentum in all development areas bears this out.”
The announcement comes ahead of the new Riyadh racing season, which begins on Oct. 27 at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse in the Saudi capital and includes the $35.35 million Saudi Cup weekend.
The International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing confirmed this weekend that two Saudi Cup weekend races, the $2 million Obaiya Arabian Classic and the $1 million Al-Mneefah Cup, will be run as a Group 1 and a Group 2 event respectively.
“Our commitment to ensuring the future of purebred Arabian racing is borne out by the progress we are making and we look forward to hosting the best Arabian horses from around the world during Saudi Cup weekend,” Prince Bandar said.
The 2,000m SR1.5 million ($400,000) Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup, on Jan. 28, 2023, was previously run as a domestic Group 1 and is a Saudi Cup qualifier.
Last season’s winner, Making Miracles (GB), a stablemate of eventual Saudi Cup victor, Emblem Road (US), went on to finish fourth in the 1,800m Group 1 $20 million showpiece last February.
For the first time this season, the Saudi Cup meeting, scheduled to take place on Feb 24-25, 2023, will feature two international Group 1s, comprising part of two eight-race cards worth a total of $35.35 million across the weekend.