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The Bahrain International Trophy is behind us, and its news that the second running of the $20m Saudi Cup will be held on Saturday 20 February at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh.

With total prizemoney rising to $30.5m, there will no change in conditions for the Saudi Cup, with the purse remaining at $20m and run over 1800m on dirt, being ‘free to enter and free to run.’

Now a week earlier than last year on 19-20 February, a total of $5million in prize money is being offered for the four turf races at the 2021 Saudi Cup two-day meeting.

On Saudi Cup Day, The Long Distance Cup of 3000m will carry a $2.5m purse and $1m for The 1351 Turf Sprint. Friday’s Middle Distance Turf Cup of 2100m will also carry $1m prizemoney.

New on Friday is the inaugural running of the $500,000 Saudi International Handicap of 2100m for horses rated 85-100, and trained in IFHA Blue Book Part II or Part III countries.

On the dirt surface the 1600m Saudi Derby increases to $1.5m, The Obaiya Cup for Purebred Arabians in now $2m, and The Jockey Club Local Handicap will double to $1m, up from $500,000.

The International Jockeys Challenge on the Friday will see seven women, five international men and two Saudi-based jockeys compete for a $100,000 purse, and a 15% prize money stake.

With turf racing commencing on 23 January at Riyadh, the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia is wasting no time in assembling its ‘international team’ for this Saudi Cup Carnival.

In being Reginal Head of Racing in Eastern Region for The Jockey Club in England, Michael Prosser will be renewing his role as Clerk of The Course for The Saudi Cup to oversee the turf track.

“It’s really great to be part of The Saudi Cup and have the opportunity to build on the successful delivery of the inaugural running,” Michael said in the turf track’s first use of the new season.

“Working alongside the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, STRI and Desert Group, we were able to provide a safe and fair racing surface in year one which received some excellent feedback.”

In successfully constructing the turf for the inaugural event earlier this year, sports surface solutions agency STRI has once again been appointed to oversee the project.

The STRI re-establish a racing surface ahead of the winter racing season, retaining the underlying track profile following and re-establishing the surface with a “cool season” grass species.

Usually found in more temperate climates, but used to great effect for The Saudi Cup 2020, the renovation of the track is a vital component in ensuring horse welfare.

In following Tom Ryan, the JCSA’s Director of Strategy and International Racing stated “a world class event requires world class facilities and we were delighted with the positive feedback.”

“Horse welfare is always the main priority when constructing racing surfaces and with an additional race set to be staged on turf in 2021, we could not be happier with the surface.”

“We are also very pleased to welcome Michael Prosser back for The Saudi Cup 2021, bringing a wealth of international operational experience to this event and a familiar face to horse connections.”

In less than two weeks it’s the Qatar International Derby Festival on 19-20 December at Al Rayyan Racecourse, with the Qatar Derby for 3yo’s run over 2000m on turf, and a $500,000 purse.

Run on Day 2, it was a European finish last year with the Mauricio Delcher Sanchez trained Pedro Cara, ridden by Tony Piccone, defeating the British visitor Bangkok, ridden by Silvestre de Sousa.

Can Britain’s ‘wonder girl’ Hollie Doyle make it back-to-back victories in the Al Rayyan Stakes 1400m for 2yo’s, when last year she won on the Archie Watson trained gelding Maystar.

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