Saudi pas­sion pa­rades at city track

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

RIYADH: Horses round the track in the soft light of an af­ter­noon sun as Riyadh’s “best kept se­cret”, the King Ab­du­laziz Race­track, be­gins an­other week­end of ac­tion. The horses of wealthy Saudis have been ma­jor play­ers at the world’s big­gest rac­ing spec­ta­cles, from Royal As­cot to Longchamp and Mel­bourne. On home turf, Fri­day af­ter­noon rac­ing in the Saudi cap­i­tal is a more low-key af­fair. Bet­ting is banned and the buzz is some­what muted early in the sea­son, but race fans still crowd the rails for a glimpse of the pass­ing thor­ough­breds.

The mod­ern fa­cil­ity sur­rounded by green­ery on the edge of Riyadh of­fers respite from the high­ways and ur­ban sprawl of a city carved out of the desert. “Un­for­tu­nately, it’s the best kept se­cret,” says track man­ager Robert Tur­man, who moved to Saudi Ara­bia af­ter re­tir­ing from the rac­ing busi­ness in the United States. “We would love to have more peo­ple here be­cause it’s an amaz­ing night out for en­ter­tain­ment,” he says. “Their goal here is re­ally to achieve in­ter­na­tional stan­dards and they’re re­ally do­ing a great job.”

Horse rac­ing is one of the few di­ver­sions in Saudi Ara­bia, where al­co­hol, pub­lic cin­e­mas and the­atres are banned. Pro­fes­sional sport is oth­er­wise lim­ited to foot­ball, with women not al­lowed in­side sta­di­ums in a coun­try where tra­di­tion pre­vents un­re­lated men and women from mix­ing. But such prac­tices are not rigidly in force ev­ery­where. At the track, men and women sit to­gether in the open grand­stand, where a sparse Fri­day

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.