STRI was delighted and honoured to be selected by his Excellency Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal as the Principal Contractors for engineering and construction of the new turf track at King Abdulaziz Racecourse. Our team provided an end-to-end design and build solution to Riyadh Equestrian Club working to a brief of developing a turf racetrack of world leading standard.
Prince Bandar’s vision was to create the inaugural 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 build 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.
The key challenges associated with this project were timescales and climate. Following engagement, our teams of researchers and consultants quickly established the most effective way of producing a surface that would meet the needs of our client and our on-the-ground mobilisation was almost immediate, to ensure we made the most of the time available to us to deliver.
Engineering a track of this standard is a highly complex process requiring input from world-leading experts in drainage, irrigation, construction materials and biomechanics. The primary constituents that make up the track are relatively few in number, but the type and amounts of those constituents are critical to making the track a success.
Design and build
- STRI conducted a detailed study of the site, including review of the climatic conditions
- We undertook extensive materials selection, testing a range of sands and gravels from around the Kingdom for their compatibility to create a firm surface ideal for racing. This rootzone, once mixed with stabilising fibres, provides the perfect medium within which to install the grass surface
- A rapid construction process then followed and extensive resources were drafted from across the GCC to excavate the existing material and install the new track
- Timing was critical, and the earth movement work had to be completed at breakneck speed to be ready to sow with the selected grass species as soon as temperatures reached the optimal level
The turf track
To meet the needs of a winter race in Saudi Arabia, the track was established with a “cool season” grass species, which is 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.
Once sown, a daily bespoke maintenance regime was developed to ensure the correct levels of water and fertiliser were applied to maximise strong sward establishment. Deep rooting was critical to develop a grass surface that not only looked fantastic, but also held together under the stresses created by a galloping horse.
After several months of careful maintenance, we are delighted to have presented and demonstrated, a track that is befitting of this prestigious race event.
Successful delivery of the inaugural turf racetrack in Saudi Arabia
Rapid construction of an elite racing surface for the world's most valuable horse race
Striving to achieve the wider National Vision 2030, this facility will form part of a network of world leading venues in the region and create a global powerhouse of natural turf racing
Adrie de Vries, jockey Port Lions, said: "The track is beautiful. I can’t believe in such a short time they were able to make it; it was a dream to ride on. It feels amazing to win"
Frankie Dettori, jockey, Dark Power, said: "What they've done in the space of two months (with this turf course) is remarkable"