The world’s richest horse race – the $20m Saudi Cup – will have a glittering support card with two more exciting races just announced, bringing the total prize fund to $29.2 million.
At a special event in Riyadh, Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal, Chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, told 300 racing professionals and media how each race would be contended by horses trained in the Kingdom as well as by the world’s best.
Added to the card at the state-of-the-art King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh on February 29 are:
An international race for Arabian horses over 2000m (10f) on dirt, worth $1,900,000, for 4-year-olds and up.
A handicap for Thoroughbreds trained in Saudi Arabia over 1800m (9f) on dirt, worth $500,000, for 4-year-olds and up.
Prince Bandar revealed that at least two places in each of the seven international races – including the $20m Saudi Cup itself and the three races on the new turf course at the track – would be reserved for Saudi-trained horses.
“Our Saudi Cup day is providing all of us here in the racing community of Saudi Arabia with wonderful new opportunities,” he said.
“For the first time, Saudi jockeys, trainers and owners will be able to pit their talents and their horses against some of the best in the sport. The chance to compete against the world’s finest is the chance to learn from the best.
“The Saudi Cup is about creating an iconic moment in the global racing calendar, but also – at its heart – it is about growing our sport in the Kingdom for the Kingdom.”
The Saudi Jockey Club also disclosed details of the autumn race schedule and new rules regarding race-day medication, bringing the Kingdom into line with other racing nations, including Britain, France, Ireland and Dubai.
Prince Bandar is looking forward to the racing community reaching out to potential new fans. “Our people have raced their horses across the dunes for many centuries,” he said.
“Today, that passion is a mature sport with 50 years of organisation behind us. The Saudi Cup will help us demonstrate our sport to our fellow Saudis, and it is our hope that this marvellous day of sport will excite new generations with the thrill of racing.”