Racing in Saudi Arabia resumes on Thursday, June 1 with a significantly expanded program at King Khalid Racecourse in Taif.
The 2023 campaign gets underway two weeks earlier than in 2022, meaning the total number of meetings has increased to 54, with the season culminating on Saturday, Oct. 7.
There will be a record number of races in 2023, with 187 contests for local and imported horses (up from 147), 193 for locally bred horses only (up from 188) and 108 for purebred Arabian horses (up from 49). A total of 486 races will take place during the season, up from 384 in 2022.
Highlights on the calendar include the Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Cup on Saturday, Sept. 2, which is run on the same day as the Listed King Faisal Cup, while the Taif Derby takes place on Friday, Sept. 22.
As well as the increased fixture list, the new Taif season will feature greater prize money, with a 25 percent increase announced for each Thursday meeting.
Prince Abdullah bin Khalid Al-Saud, chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia’s technical committee, said: “The growth of racing in Taif for the 2023 season further demonstrates our aim to develop the sport of horse racing in Saudi Arabia and underscores our commitment to securing a bright future for purebred Arabian racing.
“The expanded fixture list as well as the significant increase in prize money offers trainers more opportunity for all categories of horses.
“Our 193 races tailored specifically to locally bred horses support our all-important domestic breeding industry, and purebred Arabian horses now have more than double the opportunity when compared to last season.
“Coupled with our juvenile racing schedule, we see Taif as a significant season in its own right, but it also serves as an excellent launch pad to the Riyadh racing season and gives visitors the chance to view the equine superstars of tomorrow.”
The venue in Taif has undergone extensive renovation work in the last season to ensure that it offers the best experience to our guests on race day.
Taif is situated at a higher altitude and is closer to the coast than Riyadh, making it cooler and ideal for hosting racing throughout the summer months.