RIYADH: The 8th edition of the Kings and Princes Cups Festival, featuring the top runners from leading Saudi stables, will begin on Friday at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh.
The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia has organized the festival since 2016 in tribute to the Saudi royal family, who have been central to the development of the horse racing industry in the Kingdom.
Horse racing became a favored pastime during the reign of King Abdulaziz, when the founder of the Saudi state used to watch his sons race Arabian horses from a hill in the Malaz region, to the north of the city.
The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia was established in 1965 by King Abdullah under the stewardship of King Salman, who was governor of Riyadh at the time.
Meanwhile, a site at Janadriyah was developed and racing transferred from Malaz to the King Abdulaziz Racecourse, which featured an oval dirt track.
The royal families of Europe have long admired Arabian horses for their racing prowess. Now, given the development of the Saudi racing scene, the horses are sought after by owners and trainers worldwide.
Juddmonte Farms, owned by Prince Khalid bin Abdullah until his death in early 2021, and featuring the undefeated Frankel, was instrumental in establishing Saudi Arabia on the international horse racing scene, culminating in Saudi participation at the Ascot and Kentucky festivals.