Saudi trainers face fierce competition at Saudi Cup

The Kingdom’s trainers are expected to face tough competition when the Saudi Cup kicks off this weekend with a total prize pool of $35.35 million up for grabs.

The two-day event — the world’s richest horse race — will be hosted by the Saudi Arabian Jockey Club at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh, on Feb. 24-25.

Over the course of two evenings, more than 30 Saudi trainers will participate in the races, including Abdullah bin Mishriff, Bedan Alsubaie, Hussein Alshoieb, Naif Almandeel and Moutaib Almulawah.

Almulawah will compete in the $20 million race with horse Emblem Road, which won the third Saudi Cup last year, against veteran American Bob Baffert, coach of horse Country Grammer.

Emblem Road is set to face stiff competition to retain its title against Country Grammer, its runner-up in the same race, who won the International Dubai Cup just a month after losing the the Saudi Cup last year with American trainer Bob Baffert.

Saudi trainer Moutaib Almulawah traveled to French racecourses to train in the Parisian atmosphere as part of the program to prepare for the defense of his title. After his return, he let his horse rest to be ready for the most valuable race.

Almulawah also bolstered his hopes of securing a Saudi Cup victory by competing with the champion horse of the domestic racecourses, Scotland Yard — son of Quality Road.

The four-year-old Scotland Yard qualified for the Saudi Cup 2023 by winning The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup title last month.

Meanwhile, trainer Bob Baffert boosted his hopes in the race with his participation with horse Taiba, with whom he achieved promising results in the American fields before coming to Riyadh.

American trainer Baffert will compete with two horses, Taiba and Country Grammer, as he will race for rehabilitation against Saudi Moutaib Almulawah who claimed the last renewal title.

Young Saudi trainer Naif Almandeel will participate in the main round of The Saudi Cup 2023 race with two mares, Lagertha Rhyme and Sunset Flash.

Almandeel has etched his name on the list of top trainers over the past three years with his achievements, winning the 1st Grade race of the King Faisal Cup, the 2nd Grade race of the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Cup, twice, the cup of The final champion of the race Courses and the Gulf Cup, out of a total of 57 races.

Saudi trainer Almandeel will make his first international appearance in the Saudi Cup following his successes in domestic races.

Japanese horse trainers have set their sights on the $20 million prize, with six of the 20 horses that arrived in the Kingdom to participate in various races over the coming Friday and Saturday.