STRI Announce Saudi Arabia’s Ambitious Turf Racetrack as Complete

Riyadh King Abdulaziz Racetrack

Realising Saudi Arabia’s racecourse vision World-leading sports surface solution provider STRI Group recently completed one of the most ambitious projects in its 90-year history—a turf racetrack in Saudi Arabia’s challenging terrain.

STRI was chosen by his Excellency Prince Bandar Bin Khalid Al Faisal (chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia) to support his vision of making Saudi Arabia a destination for world-class horse racing on turf. Critical to achieving this was the delivery of an elite turf track in time for the inaugural running of the world’s richest horse racing event, the Saudi Cup.

As the Principal Contractor for the engineering and construction of the new turf track at The King Abdulaziz Racecourse, STRI provided an end-to-end design, build and operating solution to Riyadh Equestrian Club. Here’s a sneak peek into how STRI delivered this mammoth project.

© Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia//Becky Donald
© Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia//Becky Donald

Making racing history

Prince Bandar’s vision was to create the first-ever elite turf racetrack in Saudi Arabia. The course had to perform to the highest possible standards and be constructed using the finest materials available. The entire design required the construction and establishment of the track to be undertaken in a record-breaking period of just six months, requiring a large-scale resource input to achieve such a fast turnaround.


Key challenges

The major hurdles to overcome were timescales and climate. Following engagement in July 2019, STRI’s teams of researchers and consultants quickly established the most effective way of producing a surface that would meet the needs of the client. The on-the-ground mobilisation was immediate to ensure the time available was optimised to deliver the track and deal with the challenging and variable climate of Saudi Arabia.

Design and build

Engineering a track of this standard is a highly complex process requiring input from world-leading experts in drainage, irrigation, construction, materials analysis and biomechanics.

The turf track

To meet the needs of a winter race in Saudi Arabia, the track was established with a “cool season” grass species – i.e a species usually found in more temperate climates. This grass thrives in the winter climate of Saudi Arabia and, when combined with a special blend of stabilising fibres incorporated into the mix, it provides a surface which not only performs exceptionally well but also looks visually stunning.

Riyadh King Abdulaziz Racetrack
Riyadh King Abdulaziz Racetrack. © Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia//Becky Donald

A note on sustainability and future-proof design

Sustainability underpins STRI’s approach to all design projects. The R&D teams are continually innovating technologies to make developments more sustainable, through the construction and operational phases of their lifecycles.

This not only relates to sustainability from a climate perspective, with the key pressures being water and resource use, but STRI also work with clients to design facilities which will fit the business model needs in the short, medium and long-term.

Final thoughts

HRH Prince Bandar’s project in Riyadh is a great example of STRIs’ ability to problem-solve. STRI has made its name developing elite sports surfaces across the world and in-house R&D combined with global network means that STRI is able to adapt to even the most challenging of situations. However, it is exactly these kinds of projects that STRI relish the opportunity to get involved in.

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