By Jon Lees
Japan: Japanese riding legend Yutaka Take has praised the Saudi Cup meeting, predicting it will establish Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s top racing nations if it continues to offer such lucrative prize-money.
Take was riding in his 16th different country when he rode on Friday and Saturday last week in Saudi Arabia, where the King Abdulaziz racetrack, on the outskirts of Riyadh, was hosting the inaugural running of the $20 million Saudi Cup, the world’s richest horse race.
He added to his haul of worldwide successes by scoring on Kentucky Derby entry Full Flat in the Samba Saudi Derby and narrowly failed to complete a double on Matera Sky, beaten a head in the Saudia Sprint, on the $9.2m undercard.
The 50-year-old Take, who has ridden more than 4,000 winners, said: “Saudi horse racing is still a part 3 country (Japan is part 1), but if you continue this series of world’s highest prize-money, you’ll be one of the top nations in no time. I want to participate next year.”
Full Flat ran out a convincing winner of the Saudi Derby, winning the race by two and a quarter lengths. He will have his next start in the UAE Derby to try to earn ranking points for the Kentucky Derby.
Before the race the Hideyuki Mori-trained colt became so upset at the stalls that his bridle became dislodged and he almost got loose.
Recalling the incident on his personal website, Take said: “I got off the horse and grabbed Full Flat’s front leg. This is the method I learned at a horse racing school 30 years ago. Since the horse was calm, the staff insisted on re-attaching the headband and he settled down.
“I did a good job to dig the sand that had accumulated in the gap between Full Flat’s horseshoe with my stick.
“Some have described that victory as ‘Yutaka Magic’, but if that was so it was what happened before the gate opened. The starter also said ‘good job’.”
On Sunday Take will partner Satono Flag, a son of Deep Impact, in a race that remembers the Japanese great, the G2 Deep Impact Kinen at Nakayama. The race will be held behind closed doors because of the continuing coronavirus outbreak.
Take said: “This will be my first experience of what a horse racing without spectators looks like. Needless to say, I want things to be normalised as soon as possible.”