Saudi Cup: Panthalassa wins it for Japan

Yoshito Yahagi’s world-traveller showed determination from the front

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Panthalassa (far side) holds off the late challenge of Country Grammer to win the Saudi Cup on Saturday. — Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia
Panthalassa (far side) holds off the late challenge of Country Grammer to win the Saudi Cup on Saturday. — Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia

Published: Sun 26 Feb 2023, 12:32 AM

The fourth running of the US$20,000,000 Saudi Cup went the way of Japan for the first time courtesy of the Yoshito Yahagi-trained Panthalassa (JPN) as he saw off all challengers for a historic wire-to-wire victory.

It was an evening for the powerful racing nation to rejoice, with Panthalassa’s all the way success under veteran jockey Yutaka Yoshida meaning that Bob Baffert’s American raider Country Grammer (USA) had to once again settle for the runner-up place in Riyadh.


In four renewals, victory in The Saudi Cup has gone to four different nations with the Japanese winner becoming the latest to win the world’s most valuable race, now proving his capability on both dirt and turf.

Yahagi was among the winning trainers last year when Japanese-trained runners claimed four races on the card and the strength of horse racing in the country was confirmed once again on Saturday with three more in front of an appreciative crowd at King Abdulaziz Racecourse.


For the globally popular trainer Yahagi, it was a second winner of the evening, following up from Bathrat Leon’s win in the 1351 Turf Sprint presented by stc. It was also an unforgettable night for owners Hiroo Race Co Ltd, who owned both Yahagi’s winners.

Momentarily in the latter stages it appeared that Japanese runners would fill the first three places, but Country Grammer finished with a flourish down the outside to claim second, half a length adrift, from Cafe Pharoah (JPN) in third with Geoglyph (JPN) and Crown Pride (JPN), both also trained in Japan, finishing fourth and fifth respectively.

Last year's winner Emblem Road (USA) was sixth and the best of the four locally-trained runners. The winning time was 1:50.80.

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