Saudi Arabia: Frankie Dettori and Sophie Doyle head a cast of top male and female riders who will compete in a new jockeys challenge which will be staged in Riyadh on the eve of the world’s richest race, the $20 million Saudi Cup.
Organisers of the Kingdom Day STC International Jockeys Challenge at King Abdulaziz racecourse have assembled two teams of seven for the event which will kickstart Saudi Cup weekend on Friday February 28.
Dettori will be joined by Ryan Moore from Britain, Olivier Peslier from France, American Mike Smith and Japan’s Yutaka Take in an all-star team completed by Saudi Arabia’s two leading riders. Adel Alfouraidi will fill one of those spots but a replacement has to be found for Wigberto Ramos, who broke his wrist in a fall on Wednesday.
The women’s team comprises US-based Doyle, the sister of James Doyle, Nicola Currie from Britain, Canada’s Emma-Jayne Wilson, Nanako Fujita from Japan, France’s Mickaëlle Michel, Lisa Allpress from New Zealand and Sibylle Vogt, who rides in Germany.
The challenge will take place over four races of an eight-race card, each leg carrying a prize fund of US$400,000, while the overall winning jockey stands to land a further US$30,000 winner’s purse.
Prince Bandar Bin Khalid Al Faisal, Chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia said: “We are delighted to welcome some of the best jockeys in the business to compete at the first STC International Jockeys Challenge. Racing is a sport that routinely sees male and female riders compete on a level playing field and we are proud to continue this great tradition at King Abdulaziz Racecourse during Saudi Cup weekend.
“A jockeys’ challenge is always a crowd pleaser and we think that with seven women and seven men competing over four races, as well as plenty of family entertainment and top class hospitality, we are offering an exciting and unique event to the people of Riyadh and wider Saudi Arabia.
“It is interesting that we have received more than 300 entries for the four support races on the Kingdom Day card, demonstrating the interest that is already being generated within the industry for Saudi Cup weekend.”
Jockeys will be assigned horses, prepared locally by Saudi-based trainers, via a draw held on Tuesday February 25.
Points will be awarded to each jockey according to the placing of his or her mount and the ranking of each jockey will be determined by total points earned over the four races.
The jockey with the most points after the four races will be declared the STC Champion Jockey.
Races will be run on the dirt course at Riyadh’s King Abdulaziz Racecourse and will be contested over 1400m (7f), 1600m (1m), 1800m (1m 1f) and 1200m (6f) respectively. The first three legs of the Challenge are for horses aged four-years-old and up, while the final leg is for three-year-olds only.