There are some horse racing events that are well known throughout the world. The UK’s Grand National, Japan’s Nakamaya Grand Jump, the French Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and of course the USA’s iconic races like the Pegasus Cup and Kentucky Derby. All of these are emblazoned in the minds of equestrian enthusiasts. They represent the ultimate test of endurance, co-ordination and the harmonious relationship between man and beast. But horse racing fanatics are about to add another key date to their calendar.
This February will see the first inaugural Saudi Cup – the premier event for horse racing in Saudi Arabia. As one might expect, the event promises all the grace, glamour and opulence that one may expect from a prestigious Saudi event, while also showcasing the long-standing relationship between man and horse.
This has long been an important part of Arabian culture and Saudi history, and it will be honoured here as only the Saudi Arabians can.
“The World’s Richest Horse Race”
The event, which will take place in the Saudi Capital of Riyadh this February 29th has been touted as the “World’s Richest Horse Race”. Taking place on the one-turn dirt oval at King Abdulaziz Racetrack, this grand equestrian event promises spectacle and splendour aplenty, with horses and their jockeys from around the world competing. For all its opulence, the race promises to be free to enter and free to run, open to thoroughbred horses ages four years and over, to be run at weight-for-age terms over 1800m (9f).
Horses that have been trained in Saudi Arabia will be able to secure a place in the starting line-up by winning a race which will be run earlier in the month on Friday 7th of February. The horses which come first second and third in the Pegasus Cup in Florida will also be invited to run, even if they have not been previously entered.
The event will take place from the afternoon into the evening and will also feature an undercard of international contests which will also take place on the dirt as well as the new indoor turf course.
Record-Breaking Prize Fund
Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Saudi Arabia knows that they’re not prone to doing things by halves. Everything from their cuisine to their architecture demonstrates ambition, passion and an obsession with excellence. And this is evidenced not just in the glamour of the event itself but in the record-breaking prize fund.
The race has a total value of $20 million USD. An astonishing $10 million of this will be awarded to the winner. But it’s not just the jockey that comes in first who’ll take home an incredible prize. The prize for second place is an incredibly generous $3,500,000. Third place wins $2,000,000, fourth place $1,500,000, fifth place $1,000,000, sixth place $600,000, seventh place $500,000, eighth place $400,000, ninth place $300,000, and tenth place $200,000.
The undercard will also offer some pretty incredible prizes, too with $1.9 million USD awarded to the winner of the Obaiya Arabian Classic for purebred Arabians and a plethora of seven-figure prizes distributed across the event’s seven races.
A “Personal” Event for The Saudi Arabian Prince
The sheer grandeur and spectacle of the event are sure to draw interest from horse racing enthusiasts within the UAE and around the world. However, beneath the veneer of glamour and elegance, the event has a very personal nature for the crown prince HRH Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal. His Royal Highness is the Chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, and horses have always played a part in his life as well as holding a special place in his ancestry.
“My great-grandfather – King Abdulaziz, the founder of Saudi Arabia – was the last military leader in the world to win his battles from the saddle,” the prince recalls “and my grandfather, who was in his twenties, rode alongside him. Then my father was a jockey, can you believe, from the age of nine until his late-teens!
We’re putting on the SAUDI CUP in the hope that people who love horses and racing around the world might come and take a closer look at our culture and our country: explore a place they’d never thought of visiting and perhaps see it anew.”
The prince hopes that the event will draw the attention of equestrian enthusiasts the world over, introducing people not only to the beauty and grandeur of the game, but to the majesty of Arabian culture.
Find out more
To find out more about this once in a lifetime event, Click Here to visit the Saudi Cup’s official website.