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Females breaking barriers in Saudi (slowly) starting with client Lillian Klesaris 30 years ago.

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

We want to congratulate exercise rider Laura Gardner and the Bill Mott/Tacitus team for helping to break down barriers, with Laura the exercise rider for leading Saudi Cup contender Tacitus at Riyadh’s King Abdulaziz Racetrack.

To our knowledge, Lillian Altieri (now Klesaris) almost exactly 30 years ago was the first female to appear on a Saudi track when she was Passing Ships’ training rider for the 1990 King’s Cup, which the gelding won under Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero. Passing Ships was renamed in Arabic prior to the race after being purchased by Mahmoud Fustok’s Buckram Oak Farm as a gift to the Saudi Royal Family. The new owners wanted Passing Ships’ American team to continue to work with the horse through the race, at the time the biggest in Saudi Arabia, and that included his female exercise rider.

Thirty years is a long time to go between historic moments, but hopefully a sea change is coming. We’re heartened to hear that Sophie Doyle and Emma-Jayne Wilson are among the 14 jockeys, male and female, in Friday’s International Jockeys Challenge.

Today Lillian serves as business partner/assistant trainer with prominent trainer Steve Klesaris, who operates a Gulfstream Park division in addition to his Parx Racing base. Want to know more about her land-breaking 1990 experience in Saudi Arabia? Reach her through

Or message us to set up an interview.

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