Saudi Arabia will host the world’s richest horse race next February, with the Saudi Cup set to offer an eye-watering prize purse of $27 million.
The inaugural Saudi Cup, organised by the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, takes place at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh on February 29, 2020.
The main nine-furlong race, which will held be on the venue’s traditional dirt track, has a prize pot three times the size of Europe’s richest contest, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France.
Jockey Frankie Dettori and leading trainers including Sir Michael Stoute and John Gosden attended the Saudi Cup’s launch event in London.
Saudi Arabia’s Prince Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud, chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, said that female jockeys would be “most welcome” at the event.
“Men and women will be treated equally,” Prince Bandar told BBC Sport. “We are going through a transformation in the kingdom. We are learning, but we are opening up and there is a political will to go there.”
Richard Stuttard, head of consultancy at @STRIturf, the British company building the turf track:— The Saudi Cup (@thesaudicup) September 27, 2019
'The goal is to create the best grass track that the jockeys will have seen.'
Watch full video here: https://t.co/VHSHau3sJY#thesaudicup #comewithusonajourney pic.twitter.com/tsoJvVkBkF
As well as two other dirt races, new turf will be laid in order to host the first ever horse racing on grass in the Kingdom. A 3,000-metre staying handicap worth $2.5 million, a $1 million 1,350m turf sprint and a $1 million middle-distance 2,100m race have been pencilled in.
“We believe the new races will help make Saudi Cup Day a wonderful sporting occasion,” Prince Bandar added.
“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.”
Horses trained in Saudi Arabia will have the opportunity to secure a place at the event by winning a qualification race to be run on February 7, 2020.
It is the latest in a series of major sporting events to come to the Kingdom, with the world heavyweight boxing contest between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz set to be hosted in Riyadh on December 7.