The title of World’s richest race has changed hands on numerous occasions over the years, but the current honour goes to the Saudi Cup. This contest will be run for the first time in 2020 at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia.
With a prize fund of $20 million, the race is sure to attract a stellar field of runners. They will compete on the dirt track over 1 mile and 1 furlong for racing’s richest prize.
Saudi Cup Past Winners
|2021||Mishriff||8/1||John Gosden||David Egan|
|2020||Maximum Security||2/1||Jason Servis||Luis Saez|
About the Saudi Cup: Money Talks in Middle East
Saudi Arabia has, as a country, put a huge amount of money and effort to try and establish itself as a major sporting powerhouse. In recent years Saudi Arabia has played host to world title boxing matches, a European Tour golf event and the Spanish Super Cup. Despite facing accusations of “sportswashing”, the Saudi sporting authorities have decided to step up their game in the world of horse racing as well with the introduction of the Saudi Cup.
As with many of the global sporting events that take place in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Cup features a combination of glitz, world class competitors and a shed load of money. Hopes are high that this new venture will take off and that it will be spoken of in the same breath as other major flat races such as the Epsom Derby, the Melbourne Cup and the Kentucky Derby.
Part of Something Bigger
As you might imagine, the introduction of the Saudi Cup was accompanied by a major media drive. The chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, HRH Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal, claimed, “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, and demonstrates … our ambition to become a leading player on horse racing’s world stage.”
Prince Bandar has been open that the race is part of a wider initiative to transform the way the country operates and how it is perceived around the world. To that end, female jockeys were told they would receive equal treatment to their male counterparts. This news was clearly welcomed as is any commitment to growing the sport of horse racing but there is no doubt that one thing dominated the build-up to the first Saudi Cup: the prize money.
Prize Money the Obvious Draw
The prize fund for the first Saudi Cup on 29 February 2020 was a staggering $20 million. To put that in context, that’s more than three times the prize money available for Europe’s richest race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
The introduction of the Saudi Cup came at a time when a number of races had been vying for the coveted status of the world’s richest horse race. The Pegasus World Cup, the Dubai World Cup, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Melbourne Cup and the Everest have all held claims to be the richest horse race in the sport but the $20 million Saudi Cup blew them all out of the water.
Only the Best Need Apply
The Saudi Cup is the main feature race on a glittering card which takes place at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh. The nine furlong, Group 1 contest proved to be an instant hit, with 143 horses entered. Whilst many of the biggest horses in European racing have been entered on the turf races on the card, the main dirt race has attracted an international field.
An ability to run well on dirt is obviously a prerequisite for punters looking to have a bet on the Saudi Cup. Those who have experience of racing in the Middle East and ideally in Saudi Arabia should have an advantage over international raiders but a combination of speed and stamina is most important as this one mile, one furlong contest is all about who can finish the strongest after a tough initial gallop.