William Buick and Shane Foley are two of the jockeys that will take part in the second STC International Jockeys' Challenge at Riyadh in Saudi Arabia on Feb. 19. The second $20-million Saudi Cup, part of the $30.5 million Saudi Cup card, is set for Feb. 20.
“My first time riding in Saudi was around 12 years ago, I've been in and out since then,” said Buick, who rode in the original turf trials at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in January of 2020. “Last year I came over for the turf trials, which went very well indeed. The Saudi Cup raceday itself was a massive success. There were winners from all over the world, and the races were really competitive. For the organisers of a big meeting, that's your dream–competitive racing and a level playing field.
“I'm really looking forward to the international jockeys' challenge. I love these competitions. I think I've won the Mauritius one once – I've taken part in Hong Kong a few times, and there was also one the JRA used to do on Japan Cup weekend. This will be my first time riding in the Saudi challenge, and I really like the look of the format–four races, everyone riding in each race and the points system. It's simple but it works.”
“I really enjoy riding abroad and think it's massively important,” added Foley, who was runner-up in the 2020 Irish Jockeys' Championship. “The racing in Saudi Arabia is a big and growing operation as far as owners are concerned, and all it takes is to kick on with one there and you could bring an owner back to Ireland for your stable.
“I rode in the Japanese jockeys' challenge in 2018–which was a good experience–and I've ridden against some of these jockeys, like Pierre-Charles Boudot and Jessica Marcialis in the Arc and Breeders' Cup weekends. It's nice to be associated with these high-quality names and events, and I'm really looking forward to it.”