Horse Racing

Worlds richest ever horse race to be held in Saudi Arabia next year

The King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh will host the worlds richest ever horse race – the newly created ‘Saudi Cup’ – where 14 horses will participate on February 29, 2020.

The winner will enjoy a $10 million prize, with a further $10 million being split between the horse who finish all the way down to 10th place.

Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal, chairman of the Jockey Club Of Saudi Arabia, made the announcement at a special launch event in Saratoga, USA – stating : “The introduction of the Saudi Cup as an international race is without doubt the most significant event in the history of horseracing in Saudi Arabia, and demonstrates our resolve to develop this great sport in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and also our ambition to become a leading player on horseracing’s world stage. We look forward to welcoming international horsemen and women, the media, racing enthusiasts and the public to Riyadh in 2020

The race will be run on the dirt track at the King Abdulaziz racetrack over 9 furlongs – on the shorter side of a middle distance race, but a few furlongs longer than distances considered to be a sprint. The racetrack is considered to be about the best dirt racetrack in the world – no distinct advantage whatever the draw from the stalls, and the long straight gives horses chances to win from behind, as well as dictate the race from the front. Many of the worlds most recognized jockeys also state the lack of ‘kickback’ from the dirt – spray from the dirt as the horses travel.

Entrants, limited to 14 runners, will need to qualify for the race. The Saudi Cup will be open to northern hemisphere four-year-olds and upwards, as well as three-year-olds and older from the southern hemisphere. Horses who finish first, second or third in the Pegasus World Cup will be invited for the Saudi Cup, while locally-trained horses are expected to be able to win their way into the race via at least one ballot-exempt lead-up race. The Saudi Cup is four weeks out from the Dubai World Cup at Meydan, meaning the top horses in training have the opportunity to compete in all three of the most valuable dirt races in the world.

Amongst the horses in the United Kingdom that this will appeal to, Enable is the most obvious candidate. Although usually running over slightly longer distances, Enable’s recently won over 10 furlongs in the Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. She is being primed for an attempt to win a third successive Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October – the announcement of this race may just tempt owner Prince Khalid Abdullah to keep her in training, despite the fact she will be six by the time the race is run – especially if she lands the Arc. Enable has the speed for a nine furlong race – it would possibly be a fitting end to a glorious career.

The prize money eclipses the previous global record of $16m, set by the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park, Florida in 2018. It also surpasses the $12m mark set by the title race at the Dubai World Cup, although that event remains the richest meet, with total prize money available of $35m. By comparison, the U.K’s richest horse race, the Epsom Derby, carries a prize fund of around $1.5m.