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RIYADH: One of Saudi Arabia’s domestic equestrian competitions has been given an international listed status by the body that oversees thoroughbred racing globally, the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday.

The Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques Cup, a major contest on the Kingdom’s racing calendar, represents the JCSA’s second internationally classified race — the other being The Saudi Cup.

The International Federation of Horse Racing’s newly upgraded competition earned an average rating of 102.17 over the last three years.

Prince Bandar Bin Khalid Al-Faisal, chairman of the JCSA said: “The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia continues to develop its capabilities and capacity to service a growing racing industry within The Kingdom. Contributing positively at a regional and wider international level remains a key priority for us and our continued forward momentum in all development areas bears this out.”

The announcement comes ahead of the new Riyadh racing season which begins on Oct. 27, at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse in the Saudi capital, and includes the $35.35m Saudi Cup weekend.

The International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing confirm this weekend that two Saudi Cup weekend races, the USD$2m Obaiya Arabian Classic and the $1m Al Mneefah Cup, will be run as a Group 1 and a Group 2 respectively.

“Our commitment to ensuring the future of Purebred Arabian racing is borne out by the progress we are making and we look forward to hosting the best Arabian horses from around the world during Saudi Cup weekend,” said Prince Bandar.

The 2,000m SAR1.5m, ($400,000) Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup, to take place on January 28, 2023, was previously run as a domestic Group 1 and is a Saudi Cup qualifier.

Last season’s winner, Making Miracles (GB), a stablemate of eventual Saudi Cup victor, Emblem Road (USA), went on to finish fourth in the 1,800m Group 1 $20m showpiece last February.

For the first time this season The Saudi Cup meeting, scheduled to take place on the 24-25 February 2023, will feature two international Group 1s, comprising part of two eight-race cards worth a total of $35.35m across the weekend.

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