Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: The Chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia has described the peer-to-peer exchange of ideas that he shared with one of the most powerful men in horse racing as being essential to the creation of the $20 million Saudi Cup, the world’s richest race which will be held on Saturday in Riyadh.
Speaking to Gulf News at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack’s Clubhouse, Prince Bandar Bin Khalid Al Faisal Prince Salman applauded the support and guidance he received from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
“Sheikh Mohammed was one of the first people that I went to and explained the idea of the Saudi Cup after I got the direction from His Royal Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Salman (Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud), the Crown Prince,” said Prince Bandar.
“Sheikh Mohammed was very supportive and I remember what he told me ‘he said look, anything you need you can come to me; and he has been supporting us in so many ways, not least with the quality of horses that with participate in this first very version of the Saudi Cup. We are really looking forward to welcoming him here in Riyadh.”
The passion and commitment that Prince Bandar has dedicated in a bid to make the Saudi Cup one of the most prestigious races, not just in the Middle East but the world, was evident in everything that he said as he revealed plans for the growth and future development of the event.
“Everybody is very excited we hope this is the first of many things to come,” said Prince Bandar.
“This is an important addition to the big races being held here in this part of the world. Bahrain had an international race a couple of months ago while Dubai has a whole Carnival season that has been going on for the past 24 years which has really moved the sport here to a different level. Now as we see the Saudi Cup coming along.”
Part of the future plans for the event was to align it with Dubai.
“We are also starting to coordinate our season with the season in Dubai which will open up more opportunities for trainers and owners in this part of the world and we hope will attract international runners as well,” added Prince Bandar.
“So this is very special, we are on the cusp of something very exciting for us in this part of the world.
“We will be working together with Dubai and starting to align our seasons so that we can all benefit.”
We are on the cusp of something very exciting for us in this part of the world
Over the past year Saudi Arabia has done a lot to establishing itself as a sporting hub of the Middle East by building a Formula E circuit, with ambitious plans to join the lucrative Formula 1 circuit.
It has also hosted high-profile boxing event like the heavyweight rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr, with WWE to follow.
The country was the venue for a high profile friendly football match between Argentina and Brazil in December, while it successfully negotiated a deal with the Spanish Football Federation to host the country’s Super Cup competition in the kingdom for the next three years.
Earlier this month it hosted the Saudi Cup golf tournament, a week after the Omega Dubai Desert Classic was played at the Emirates Golf Cup.
And now, it’s time to host the Saudi Cup, an event that has the potential to change the face of horse racing forever.