New Zealander Lisa Allpress has finished equal second to American Mike Smith in the inaugural international jockeys’ challenge in Saudi Arabia.
A three-time champion jockey at home, Allpress created history when she became the first woman to ride a winner in Saudi Arabia, steering Matmon to victory in the first of the four designated races.
“I came here with no expectations. I just wanted to enjoy the experience, but we have been very well looked after and I want to thank everyone who has organised it,” Allpress said.
“Where I come from it’s not a crazy thing for a woman to be riding in the big races, but this means a lot. I’m just happy to be here and doing my thing. I came here with an open mind and I’m extremely thankful to be asked.
“It’s very groundbreaking and I can’t believe it, it’s very special.”
Veteran Smith, 54, won two of the races to clinch the title.
“At my age I’m stoked to win this jockeys’ challenge,” he said.
“I’m so happy and very blessed. I was hoping to do well in the challenge and then we have the Saudi Cup and I’m really, really looking forward to tomorrow.
“I think my filly in the Saudi Cup, Midnight Bisou, is going to love this track, she acts like she will.
“I’ll be back. I love this place and I love that dirt course out there. It’s the best dirt course I’ve been on.
“It’s very kind and very good for a horse and America should really take a look at this surface. Man, it’s kind and when it feels kind it is kind. I absolutely loved it.”
Sibylle Vogt made it a red-letter day for female riders when the Swiss-born German-based jockey took leg four on Sabeq’hom to join Allpress in second place.
Ryan Moore missed out on the action because of travel difficulties.
Moore, who is due to ride Magic Wand in the Saudi Cup on Saturday (Sunday AEDT), was replaced by Irad Ortiz Jr.
Saudi Arabia banned foreigners temporarily from entering the country because of the coronavirus – although there have been not yet been any confirmed cases in the country.
Moore has ridden recently in Hong Kong, where more than 80 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed.