RIYADH — The first day’s racing of The Saudi Cup 2023 concluded on Friday evening with Asfan Al Khalediah, owned by Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Sons, claiming the $1 million G2 Al Mneefah Cup.
Steered by jockey Abdullah Alawfi and trained by Saad bin Mutlaq, Asfan Al Khalediah finished the 2100-meter contest for two-year-old horses in 2.18.43 minutes.
Earlier highlights of the day included female British jockey Joanna Mason claiming first place with Medbass, owned by Mohammed Haadi Bin Khyoot Sons, in one of the four rounds of the International Jockey’s Challenge.
The Saudi Cup weekend launched with the Fillies Mile open race for imported and local-bred horses, which saw Abdulelah Abdul Aziz Almousa-owned US filly Alia in prime position. Chestnut Alia, steered by Panamanian jockey Victor Gutierrez and trained by South African Geoffrey Woodruff, finished the 1,600-meter race in 1:40.067 minutes, besting 19 contenders to bag a $250,000 purse.
The Tuwaiq Cup, for four years and older local and imported horses, was claimed by the highly-rated colt Electability — owned by King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Sons and sired by the legendary Quality Road — who ran the 1,800-meter dirt race in 1:52.064 minutes, beating 16 opponents to claim a bounty of $250,000 from a total of $500,000.
Friday’s second, third, fifth and sixth rounds made up the International Jockeys Challenge. Panamanian Luis Saez steered Wajaab to victory in the second round; Medbass won the third round under Joanna Mason; Refaei Sanat Alghuraban’s Happy Go Lucky was victorious under Bauyrzhan Murzabayev of Kazakhstan in the fifth round; and Japan’s Yoga Kawada came first in the sixth round with Nawaf Sari Rashed Almutairi’s Starcat.
US jockey Saez, winner of the 2020 edition of the International Jockeys Challenge, repeated this achievement this year with 37 points, Joanna Mason emerged second with 29 points, and Yoga Kawada came third place with 25 points.
Alrifga Stable’s Qaader claimed the Saudi International Handicap turf race in the seventh round of the evening. Five-year-old Irish colt Qaader, owned and trained by Fawzi Nass, completed the 2,100-meter competition in 2:09.92 minutes, facing off 13 opponents to bag $300,000 from a total prize of $500,000.
The 2023 edition of The Saudi Cup continues Saturday with an overall purse adding up to no less than $35.35 million. — SG
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