By George Deedes, TPD Content Director
Total Performance Data’s association with Saudi Arabia began last summer when representatives from the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia (JCSA) attended fixtures at Lingfield and Windsor in order to see the TPD system in action. Clearly impressed by what they saw, they placed order for TPD to operate at their King Abdulaziz racetrack in Riyadh and the King Khalid racetrack at Taif.
The JCSA website declares it’s mission statement to be “to provide patronage for horse racing in a creative way that is also supported by a high level of modern technology and the setting up of effective international partnerships”. A mission statement that could very well have been written with TPD in mind. Our technology will not only supply post-race sectional times and stride data to the expanding horse racing fan base in Saudi but will also supply the in-running on screen graphics to the racecourse screens enhancing the raceday experience for those at the track.
Getting started, though, proved tricky. We had all of our equipment ready to go in early December. The plan was to ship, install and have a few ‘practice’ meetings before the Saudi Cup on 26th February. Unfortunately we didn’t anticipate that it would take nearly two months for paperwork and shipping before our kit arrived safely at the track. In fact it arrived only 10 days before the big race and with no racedays left for us to test. It is a testament to our system that despite only a few days’ notice, armed with Whatsapp and a very competent team of local support, we managed to be ready in time for racing on the big day.
For the big day itself, we sent our special envoy/CEO Will Duff Gordon to keep an eye on things. He arrived in Saudi with visions of rubbing shoulders with VIPs and watching the high quality racing – in reality, he was confined to the weighing room where he was put in charge of supervising the superb operational team of Bender, Soliman and Abdullah.
After an American winner in 2020 and a UK winner in 2021, it was fitting that 2022 saw a Saudi winner, Emblem Road. He benefitted from a frantic early pace and came from last to first for a very popular local victory at big odds.