CTS graduate Van Halen is likely to take on some of the world’s leading sprinters in the 2021 $1,5 million Riyadh Dirt Sprint over 1200m, won earlier this year in a thriller by New York Central who pipped Matera Sky.
The Sprint will be on the undercard for the US$20m Saudi Cup, to be run on Sunday 20 February 2021 at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh with total prizemoney for the meeting now set at US$30.5m.
Trainer Corne Spies said: “We’ll also have the 1351 Saudi Turf Sprint ($1m) as an option, we’ll make a call on that later, but Van Halen works exceptionally well on sand so the dirt sprint will probably be the one we’ll go for.”
Van Halen, by Oratorio, has already entered quarantine in Johannesburg, in preparation for a testing journey that goes via Mauritius and Europe into Saudi Arabia.
A dual Gr1 winner, Van Halen was bought for a mere R100 000 at the 2017 Cape Premier Yearling Sale. “It’s a time consuming and costly exercise but he’s a top horse and we’d like to take our chances. I have been an international trainer for some years, you know,” Spies joked to the Sporting Post in an obvious reference to his former Zimbabwe championship crown.
“To have the sport’s key players bring their horses to an untested and unproven event and furthermore to see the progressive form that those horses have displayed since is something for the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia to be proud,” stated Tom Ryan, the Director of Strategy and International Racing for the JCSA.