The world’s richest race, the US$20m Saudi Cup, will have a glittering support card for its inaugural running on February 29th, 2020.
HRH Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal, Chairman of the Jockey Club Of Saudi Arabia, announced five new international races at a Saudi Cup launch event on Monday at Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly, London.
Three of the five new races on the undercard will be run on a new turf course, with the other two to be run on the highly acclaimed dirt track on which the 1800m Saudi Cup itself will be contested.
Prize money for the five races totals US$6 800 000.
A staying handicap on turf over 3000m, with a total race value of US$2 500 000, a first prize of US$1 500 000, and weights ranging from 62kg to 54kg.
A middle-distance turf race over 2100m for four-year-olds and upwards, with a total race value of US$1 000 000 and a first prize of US$600 000.
A turf sprint over 1350m for four-year-olds and upwards, with a total race value of US$1 000 000 and a first prize of US$600 000.
A dirt sprint over 1200m for three-year-olds and upwards, with a total race value of US$1 500 000 and a first prize of US$900 000.
A dirt mile race for three-year olds over 1600m, with a total race value of US$800 000 and a first prize of US$480 000.
‘We believe the new races will help make Saudi Cup Day a wonderful sporting occasion,’ said HRH Prince Bandar. ‘And we will be thrilled to welcome international competitors to these new races. I am especially pleased that we will be having turf racing in Riyadh for the first time. Things are really beginning to take shape.’
The launch, compered by Nick Luck and Britney Eurton, was attended by trainers and jockeys keen to hear about the lucrative new race day.
Leading trainer John Gosden said, ‘These races will offer terrific targets for a range of horses – from sprinters to stayers, plus a mile race for three-year-olds which is worth a good deal more than the early classics. I’m already thinking about which horses I could take.’
The Saudi Cup will be staged at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh which has been hosting racing and international jockeys for many years.
One familiar, face to have frequently raced in Saudi Arabia is Frankie Dettori, who also appeared on stage at the event. He said, ‘The quality of the dirt track in Riyadh is second to none. I’ve ridden European horses on it, and they take to it really well, and the new turf track will give the day even more appeal. The welcome awaiting any jockey competing in the Kingdom is exceptional. The hospitality of the Saudi racing fraternity is amazing and there is a real passion for the sport. I hope I’ll be there on the starting line come February 29.’
The feature race of the event – the Saudi Cup itself, will have a maximum field of 14 runners and be run over 1800m (9f) on dirt. The prize for the winning horse will be $10m with horses down to 10th place sharing another $10m between them.
Horseracing in the Kingdom stretches back more than five decades since the Jockey Club Of Saudi Arabia was formed in 1965. ‘The introduction of the Saudi Cup as an international race is without doubt the most significant event in the history of horse racing in Saudi Arabia,’ said HRH Prince Bandar. ‘It demonstrates our resolve to develop this great sport in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and also our ambition to become a leading player on horse racing’s world stage.’