Woodruff Celebrates – Saez Wins International Jockeys Challenge

Thrills from day 1 of the big meeting in Riyadh

Former multiple SA champion trainer Geoff Woodruff launched the two day Saudi Cup meeting at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh in the best way possible on Friday when his American-bred charge Alia scored a sensational victory under Victor Gutierrez to win the $250 000 Fillies Mile presented by Alfares, the opening race on day one.

Woodruff, or ‘The Guv’ as he is fondly known to fans, has made a cracking start to his Saudi Arabia campaign and saddled his first feature winner just last month.

A 3yo daughter of Good Magic, Alia stormed away for owners Abdulelah Abdul Aziz and Abdullah Almous.

Watch the replay here:

Speaking to the Sporting Post from the racecourse, former Milnerton assistant trainer Elbert Steyn, who trains for Prince Saud, said that the atmosphere on course was superb and that it was great to see the manner in which the Woodruff galloper had opened the bumper two day event.

“There was a massive crowd for the lead in and the pics. Mr Woodruff is really doing well and looked thrilled, as one would expect!” he added.

A consistent performance from leading US-based rider Luis Saez saw him seal the International Jockeys Challenge presented by stc on Friday.

Saez, a visitor to the meeting in the past, ended up winning one race and finishing second in two others, including the Round 4 finale.

“It’s super exciting, I want to say thank you to everybody for this magnificent moment – my family, well everybody, I’m pretty happy,” he said.

“Over here I don’t understand the form too much, I could only see how my horses ran last time and so I studied every horse, which was a bit difficult. But I had a good feeling, I have a lot of faith in my horses, I feel like they are going to run good and every horse ran pretty good so I’m pretty happy. I rode the horses like they told me, pretty much. When you break from the gate, when you are in a good position, be kind, be confident and try and win the race.

“This place is very special for me, I really love this course, I love the dirt, I love everything here, the people, I feel like this is home here.”

Luiz Daez is flanked by runner-up Yuga Kawada and Joanna Mason

The world’s richest race, the $20 million Gr1 Saudi Cup is off at 19h35.

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