Saudi Cup: Emma-Jayne Wilson Part of Horse Racing History

One of Canada's top riders competes in the Jockey Challenge on February 28th in Riyadh, where women's rights are slowly evolving.

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The grandstand at King Abdulaziz Racecourse. (VANESSA NG PHOTO)

By: Jennifer Morrison |

(Note – Currently there is no wagering or feed of the races at Horseplayer Interactive, the Woodbine Entertainment betting platform as it rests with the Canadian Pari Mutuel Association)

Emma-Jayne Wilson has etched her name in the horse racing history books many times before. The Canadian champion rider, Queen’s Plate winner, spokesperson for all things racing and one of the most popular horse racing figures in the country will be one of the first women to ride in a horse race in Saudi Arabia on Friday.

Wilson and six other women jockeys will take part in a points-based jockeys’ challenge alongside seven male riders including Frankie Dettori across four races on February 28, the day before the $20,000,000 Saudi Cup. This is the first year of the new Saudi Cup, the world’s richest horse race which has attracted some of the top horses in training from the US.

Said Wilson on Twitter, “It is an honour and a privilege to be invited to participate in this event! Looking forward to the experience!”

Exercise rider LAURA GARDNER became the first woman to ever ride on the track in Riyadh this week when she took TACITUS out for a gallop in preparation for the Cup.

Indeed, to say Saudi Arabia has been slow to grant rights to its people, in particular women (according to Sharia law) would be a vast understatement.

Only in 2017, women were able to seek medical attention without a male guardian’s permission or attend sports events.

In June 2018, Saudi women were granted the opportunity to receive driver’s licenses, and last year Saudi Arabia finally lifted a ban requiring Saudi women to travel with a male guardian.

While progressive, Saudi Arabia’s rules and regulations with regards to marriages, common-law, same-sex often involve punishment.

It seems as if big sporting events have been presented to improve the reputation of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Cup certainly falls under that category.


Participating jockeys

Nicola Currie
Nanako Fujita
Mickaelle Michel
Lisa Allpress
Sophie Doyle
Sibylle Vogt
Emma-Jayne Wilson

Frankie Dettori
Yutaka Take
Ryan Moore
Olivier Peslier
Mike Smith
Adel Alfouraidi

But racing fans are generally excited, perhaps tentatively, to watch the big races from King Abdulaziz racecourse which will be run in the evening and night in Riyadh but on Saturday morning eastern time. According to reports at, conditions were typical for late February, with sunny skies and temperatures in the 80’s during training hours. As expected the main track was fast and the turf course was good-to-firm (GoingStick 9.0).

The Saudi Cup goes to post at 8:40pm local time (12:40pm ET). In North America the full card will be broadcast live on TVG in the U.S. In addition, FOX Sports 1’s show will start at noon. The Saudi Cup will be contested at 1800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) around one turn of the main track.

There is no question that the SAUDI CUP, with Champion 3-year-old of 2019 MAXIMUM SECURITY, the amazing filly MIDNIGHT BISOU, and Bob Baffert  stars MUCHO GUSTO and MCKINZIE is a mouth-watering race.

Post positions will be coming up later Wednesday.

MAXIMUM SECURITY in Saudi Arabia – VANESSA NG photo –