Saudi Cup: Swiss Skydiver, Knicks Go, Charlatan head noms

Saudi Cup: Swiss Skydiver, Knicks Go, Charlatan head noms
Photo: MJC Photo

The second staging of The Saudi Cup meeting, headlined by the $20 million Saudi Cup, has attracted a star-studded list of entries from the U.S., including Swiss Skydiver, Knicks Go, Charlatan and Channel Maker.

After a successful inaugural event last year, the two-day meeting, held at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh on Feb. 19 and 20, has been expanded significantly in 2021 with increased prize money and a new race, resulting in an even stronger list of entries than 12 months ago.

The highlight will once again be the $20 million Saudi Cup, the world’s most valuable race. The 1,800-meter contest has attracted high-profile entries, such as Kenny McPeek’s top-class Preakness winner Swiss Skydiver, 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Knicks Go and Charlatan, the winner of the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes.

Last year’s fifth, Tacitus, is also entered along with Claude McGaughey’s two-time G1 winner Code Of Honour, while Jack Sisterson is represented by Cigar Mile (G1) winner True Timber.

The $1.5 million Saudi Derby has also attracted a host of well-regarded types, including multiple Grade 1 winner Jackie’s Warrior, last seen finishing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, as well as the horse that finished two places ahead of him that day, Doug O’Neill’s Hot Rod Charlie.

The 2,100-meter, $1 million Middle Distance Turf Cup entry list includes Bill Mott’s four-time Grade 1 winner Channel Maker, as well as 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Storm The Court. They could face a strong European-based challenge with Dubai Warrior, Extra Elusive and Sangarius (all GB) all entered, while Port Lions (BAH), trained in Bahrain by Fawzi Nass, also is entered as he bids to win the race for a second year running.

Channel Maker could also line up in the $2.5 million Long Distance Turf Handicap, run over 3,000 meters, which boasts more 100 entries from around the world, including 2020 victor Call The Wind (FR), international globetrotter Prince Of Arran (GB) and English St Leger runner up Berkshire Rocco (GB).

Neil Drysdale’s Jaipur Stakes (G1) victor Oleksandra is entered in the $1 million, 1351-meter Turf Sprint, where he could take on G1 July Cup winner Oxted (GB) and the Godolphin-owned Space Blues (GB)

Oxted is also entered in the 1,200-meter, $1.5 million Dirt Sprint alongside Justin (JPN), who earned an automatic spot for the race when winning the G3 Capella Stakes last month, while the Purebred Arabian entries in the 2,000-meter, $2 million Obaiya Arabian Classic are headlined by the G1-winning Messi (BEL), trained by Timo Keersmaekers in Belgium.

This year’s meeting, which starts on Friday, Feb. 19, sees the addition of a new race, the $500k Saudi International Handicap, specifically designed for horses trained in IFHA Part II or Part III countries, with horses entered from eight countries: Bahrain, Qatar, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Norway, the Czech Republic and Greece.

The race will form part of Friday’s proceedings where riders from across the globe will compete for the International Jockeys’ Challenge, won last year by Sibylle Vogt who is coming back to defend her crown.

Tom Ryan, director of strategy and international racing for the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, was excited by the quality of talent entered for this year’s event.

“We are absolutely thrilled with the final entry list for this year’s Saudi Cup meeting, especially given the challenges everyone has been faced with over the past 12 months.

“Considering this is only the second year of a new international racing event, both the quality and depth of entries has grown significantly, and there is some really strong momentum behind the meeting.

“The Saudi Cup itself is fascinating with exciting entries from the USA, Japan, Europe and the Middle East, while we are delighted with the response to our new race, The Saudi International Handicap, which gives an opportunity for horses trained in part two and three racing countries to compete on the global stage.”

View the complete list of nominations for the Saudi Cup card here

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