Horse-racing has a brand-new richest race, with the announcement of the $20m Saudi Cup.
The race will be run in Riyadh on February 29th next year, with the victor over nine furlongs taking home a cool prize of ten million dollars. The race is free to enter with a maximum field of fourteen runners.
The race will be running at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack, as the sport continues to grow in the Middle East. Despite widespread scepticisms and criticisms of dirt track racing, jockey Frankie Dettori has been among those to praise the Riyadh venue:
“I’ve been going to King Abdulaziz Racetrack ever since it opened. It’s based on Belmont, in that it’s a one-turn mile and a quarter. Of all the dirt tracks I’ve ridden, it’s the one I like best, as you can win from the front, and you can win from behind – it’s a fair track.
“The other thing I like is that the kickback is so much less than on other dirt tracks. I don’t know why, but the sand seems finer and doesn’t stick. You only need a couple of pairs of goggles, where on other tracks you need four or five.”
“It’s a kinder track that I can see turf horses handling.”
The race replaces the Dubai World Cup as the richest prize pot in the sport, with the power of the dollar sure to lure the top trainers in the world to the dirt track in order to scoop the top prize of $10m.
It is not yet known which grade classification the race will go under, but Irish and UK trainers will certainly have an eye on the competition. While the race will not quite garner the attention of the Cheltenham Festival and Aintree Grand National, it is a major coup for the overseas development for the sport, as Saudi Arabia continues to grow its presence and strengthen their hand in world racing.