Prince Khalid bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz’s Al-Khalediah Stables proved a dominant force on Taif’s biggest race day on Saturday, with the yard dominating the Prince Abdullah Alfaisal Cup and the King Faisal Cup, two listed races for purebred Arabian horses worth $266,000 (SR1 million) each.
The Prince Abdullah Alfaisal Cup, open to purebred Arabians aged four-years-old and above, saw the victory of Asfan Al-Khalediah, who won last year’s renewal of the King Faisal Cup and remains unbeaten in 12 starts.
Ridden by Abdullah Alawfi, Asfan Al-Khalediah had trailed last year’s winner Qaswrat Al-Khalediah until the final straight when he surged forward to secure victory with a new track record. Qaswarat Al-Khalediah finished two-and-a-half lengths back in second, followed a further seven-and-a-quarter lengths back in third by Bint Ghaliat Al-Khalediah.
Winning trainer Saad Mutlaq was understandably delighted by his horse’s performance, but more was to come when his stable companion Nadem Al-Molwk Al-Khalediah dominated the prestigious 1,600m King Faisal Cup, the highlight of the evening.
Ridden by Adel Al-Faridi, the three-year-old had gone to the front shortly after leaving the stalls, and while he was heavily pressured by an equally determined Alnjm Almunir, he found more with every stride and eventually won this listed event for three-year-old purebred Arabians by a length.
It was a very popular win and after being celebrated by the crowd, Saad Mutlaq said: “I would like to thank His Majesty the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince for bringing horse racing in the Kingdom to the fore and enabling us to win these fantastic races. I also thank Prince Khalid bin Sultan, who has supported us, and Prince Khalid Al-Faisal for creating these two magnificent races. Also, I would like to thank Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al-Faisal, the chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, for organizing these races.”
Following a third consecutive success of the famous white and black silks in the King Faisal Cup, Prince Fahd bin Khalid bin Sultan said: “I would like to congratulate Prince Khalid bin Sultan on his well-deserved victory for the third consecutive year. Every renewal is competitive, and the toughest part is to win it with a home-bred. Khalediah has won all the major events with horses they bred themselves and Prince Khalid bin Sultan has been very invested in maintaining the bloodline.”
Before the two listed events for purebred Arabians, attention had focused on the 2,000m Okaz Cup, which was won by Houghton of Youth and provided jockey Luis Morals with a notable double on the evening.
Owned by Saad Ali Al-Mutairy and trained by Nasser Fawaz, Houghton of Youth was a convincing winner, beating Alkhateeb by three and a quarter lengths.
“This race has been our target,” Fawaz said. “This horse has a lot of speed, and our plan was to go the front, no matter what.” Total prize money for the Okaz Cup was SR700,000.
The day also witnessed four Taif Cup races: Taif Cup (1,400m for colts), Taif Cup Presented by Sports Boulevard (1,400m for fillies), Taif Cup Presented by Boutique Group (1,600m for colts), and Taif Cup Presented by Altanfeethi (1,600m for fillies), with total prizes of $480,000.
Race meetings at the King Khalid racecourse will continue on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until Oct. 7, while the Riyadh racing season will start in late October.