Dubai: The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia is doing whatever it takes to ensure that the inaugural $20 million (Dh73.5 million) 2020 Saudi Cup on February 29, the world’s richest horse race, will make a major impact on the racing world.
Work is already under way to lay a turf track at the King Abdul Aziz Racetrack in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, where three of the newly announced five support races will be staged.
Traditionally, flat racing has only taken place on dirt in the country but the introduction of a turf track will open the market to British and European interests, who predominantly race on grass. The three turf races feature a 3,000-metre staying handicap worth $2.5 million, a $1 million 1,350-metre turf sprint and a middle-distance 2,100-metre contest that offers a purse of $1 million.
In addition, there will be a dirt sprint over 1,200 metres, which is worth $1.5 million and a dirt mile for three-year-olds worth $800,000.
“We believe the new races will help make Saudi Cup Day a wonderful sporting occasion,” said Prince Bandar Bin Khalid Al Faisal, Chairman of the Jockey Club Of Saudi Arabia, said in a press release. “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.”
It was also revealed that horses who finish first, second or third in the Pegasus World Cup invitational, which is run at Gulfstream Park in Florida in January, will be invited for the Saudi Cup even if not previously entered.
Horses trained in Saudi Arabia will have the opportunity to secure a place in the starting line-up by winning a qualification race to be run on February 7, 2020. All races are free to enter and free to run.
Shipment of invited horses will be arranged and paid for by the Jockey Club Of Saudi Arabia, which will also pay for stables, fodder, veterinary fees and farrier, and arrange and pay for flights and accommodation of connections.
What is Saudi Cup?
The inaugural $20 million Saudi Cup is the world’s richest horse race, to be run in Riyadh on February 29, 2020. It will feature an undercard of five international races on both dirt and the new turf course. The total prize money for the support races is $6.8 million.