Saudi Cup 2021 bookends 12 months of world sporting turmoil with file $30.5m prize cash up for grabs.

RIYADH: The lengthy queues at King Khalid Worldwide Airport had been an indication of issues to come back, however not in the way in which anybody getting into the Saudi capital on Feb. 26, 2020, may have imagined.

All eyes had been on the Saudi Cup, a two-day pageant of worldwide racing that promised to be memorable in so some ways.

And the following few days did show to be historic. Feminine jockeys on podiums stole the limelight on the primary day, whereas record-breaking prize cash was shared throughout the second.

The occasion, sadly, additionally acted as full cease for all times as we all know it.

Inside days, the coronavirus pandemic had unfold globally, bringing all sporting actions to a halt by the center of March. Masks and lockdowns grew to become the norm. Busy airports had been instantly empty as international locations closed their borders for an indefinite interval.

Now, one 12 months on, the coronavirus pandemic continues to be headline information, however for higher or worse, the world is studying to dwell with it – particularly in relation to sporting occasions.

In simply over a month, Saudi Arabia is planning to stage its second Saudi Cup, however removed from being restricted by the crises of 2020, the organizers have even larger ambitions this time.

The occasion’s second version will once more be held at Riyadh’s King Abdul Aziz Racecourse on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19-20, and can function a number of the world’s main racehorses and jockeys.

The 2020 Saudi Cup had already surpassed the Dubai World Cup because the richest in racing, with 64 worldwide runners representing 10 international locations, together with Saudi Arabia, competing for whole prize cash of $29.2 million.

This time across the numbers are much more spectacular.

The showpiece Saudi Cup by itself will as soon as once more command $20 million – because it did final 12 months – with the 16-race, two-day occasion value a $30.5 million in whole.

Seven feminine and male riders will line up for the Worldwide Jockeys Problem on Feb. 19. Final 12 months, the occasion proved memorable as girls jockeys had been allowed to race competitively, and win, within the Kingdom for the primary time.

The primary Worldwide Jockeys Problem of the day, run over 1,400m (7f), noticed Lisa Allpress of New Zealand, using Matmon, trip to victory and a spot within the historical past books.

“I truthfully got here right here with an open thoughts,” Allpress mentioned.

“We have been nicely taken care of,” she added, enjoying down her newly bestowed standing as Saudi Arabia’s first-ever feminine winner. “I had no expectations. I made a decision to come back with an open thoughts and simply take pleasure in it.”

Allpress wasn’t the one one lady jockey having fun with the day, although, finally, outcomes meant that veteran American Mike Smith received the general problem with 33 factors.

Within the fourth and remaining Jockeys Problem race of the day, Swiss rider Sibylle Vogt, using, Sabeq’hom, got here dwelling forward of Emma-Jane Wilson on Alshatherwan in second, with the legendary Frankie Dettori on Sha’erah in third.

A delighted Vogt reminded the world’s media that she had already received over 90 races in her profession at that time, and that she sees herself merely as a jockey and never as “feminine jockey,” earlier than ending with maybe the quote of the weekend.

“My idol is Frankie Dettori and I am so completely satisfied he was behind me,” she mentioned.

Whereas the Worldwide Jockeys Problem will once more set the tone for the weekend, it’s the Saudi Cup, this 12 months on Feb. 20, that may have the eyes of racing followers around the globe turning to Riyadh.

Final 12 months, Most Safety made historical past on Feb. 29 in entrance of a watching King Salman as the primary winner of the Saudi Cup, taking dwelling the $10 million first prize.

The Jason Servis-trained four-year-old favourite, with Luis Saez within the saddle, stormed to a victory that many had predicted, with Midnight Bisou in second amassing $3.5 million, and third-placed Godolphin’s Benbatl claiming $2 million.

Virtually precisely a 12 months on, the staging of the race will sign that sporting actions are again on monitor in Saudi Arabia.

The brand new 12 months has kicked off with the Dakar Rally crossing the desert terrain of the Kingdom, and the approaching months promise extra high-profile soccer and {golfing} competitions earlier than the inaugural Saudi Arabian System One Grand Prix involves Jeddah on Nov. 5.

One other profitable Saudi Cup will present that whereas the coronavirus is but to be defeated, sporting occasions within the Center East and around the globe are not less than studying to beat its obstacles – and that Saudi Arabia is open for enterprise.

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