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.
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 20th February 2021
- Winner: Mishriff
- SP: 8/1
- Trainer: John Gosden
- Jockey: David Egan
It’s a big one at the impressive Riyadh venue over in Saudi Arabia this weekend, with runners travelling from far and wide for a shot at this 1m1f conditions event on the dirt. With an incredible $20 million in total prize money on offer, this is the richest race in the world, bar none.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Dirt||1m1f||Conditions||$20 million||14 Runners||1/5 1-3|
Saudi Cup Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2021. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
Not only is this the richest race in the world, but it is also one of the newest major international contests having only made its debut in 2020. As such, there really isn’t much food for thought for trends fans. Being held on dirt, we would expect the US runners to go well here – much as they have done in the Dubai World Cup – and the first edition was indeed claimed by a US-based runner in the shape of the Jason Servis-trained runner, Maximum Security.
The US are the most represented nation in the race this year with five runners. Not far behind them though comes the UK with four entries: John Gosden’s Mishriff and Global Giant, Andrew Balding’s Bangkok and Extra Elusive from the yard of Roger Charlton.
It is admittedly a small sample size to go off, but the opening edition of this race did suggest that it may pay to focus on the overseas runners, with foreign raiders filling each of the first seven spots last year.
|Charlatan||6/4||4||Bob Baffert||Mike Smith|
|Knicks Go||2/1||5||Brad Cox||Joel Rosario|
|Mishriff||6/1||4||John Gosden||David Egan|
Charlatan – 6/4
Given their record in international multimillion-dollar dirt races overall, coupled with the fact they sent out the first two home in this 12 months ago, it is no surprise that we have a couple of US-based runners out and clear at the head of the market this year. Currently just about shading favouritism in most lists is the Bob Baffert-trained Charlatan.
Hugely successful in his homeland, and a three-time winner of the Dubai World Cup, Baffert is an expert at readying runners for the big occasion and a man to be feared wherever he shows up. It, therefore, looks interesting that from the vast arsenal at his disposal the California-based trainer is choosing to rely solely upon this four year old son of Speightstown.
Last sighted bolting up in the Grade 1 Malibou Stakes at Santa Anita in December, the fact that he steps up two furlongs in trip from that seven furlong event would initially look to be a significant question mark. However, whilst he is not officially a winner at the distance, he was in fact first past the post in the Arkansas Derby over this trip back in May, only to be disqualified having returned a positive sample. He did get his own way in front that day but was if anything pulling further clear at the line, and looks a major threat to all in the hands of the man for the big occasion, Mike Smith.
Knicks Go – 2/1
Charlatan is however by no means certain to get to the lead here, particularly as another of the major pace angles in the race – and fellow US raider – Knicks Go, is drawn on his inside. And if this Brad Cox runner does get across to the rail from stall five, he may prove to be very tough to pass indeed.
Vastly more experienced than Charlatan, Knicks Go will be making his nineteenth career start here and may just be primed for his biggest payday yet. Promising but unspectacular when with former trainer Ben Colebrook, this handsome grey colt has proved unstoppable since joining the Cox yard in February of last year. Four starts have yielded four successes, including a power-packed win from the front in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, and an equally impressive victory over this trip in the Pegasus World Cup last time out. The hallmark of each of those wins was getting to the front early and simply applying and maintaining a pace the others were unable to live with and that will no doubt be the strategy once again here. Expect this one to make a bold bid under regular pilot Joel Rosario.
Mishriff – 6/1
If there is to be a minor upset in this race, then perhaps the runner most likely to provide it is John Gosden’s French Derby hero, Mishriff, with the market judging the mount of David Egan as being the most likely of the European raiders to prevail. Famous for his Group 1 domestic success, Gosden does have a bit of form on the international stage having sent out Raven’s Pass to land the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and could just go close with this son of Make Believe, who also happens to be out of a mare by none other than Raven’s Pass.
Undoubtedly the classiest of the European runners on show, Mishriff’s finest hour came when showing a trademark turn of foot to win going away in that French Derby contest at Chantilly, before showing that effort to be no fluke when producing an equally impressive performance to scoot clear in a Grade 2 run at Deauville. Of course, each of those efforts was on turf, but having finished a staying-on second in the Saudi Derby over a mile on this card 12 months ago, we do know that he handles dirt. As a hold up performer, his draw in 12 is not the hindrance it would be for some others in the field and he looks one of those most likely to take advantage should they go too quick up front.
Saudi Cup 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.